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Fri, Feb. 28

Faith Column: Start each day with love for the Lord

And Jesus answered...the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is... Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these. - St. Mark 12:29-31

All I did was to reach out when the Lord extended His loving and capable arms to lift me from the dirty mess in which He found me. For the first time in my then 28 years, I awoke with praise on my lips and said, "Thank you, God, for this day," even though the night before I had been severely beaten. After he beat me, my alcoholic spouse (since deceased) ripped the license plates from my car, confiscated my keys and left.

I had a six-month-old baby and a job as a schoolteacher, now with no way to get to work. "Thank you, God, for this day," planted the seeds of a love affair with my precious Lord that transcends all the concerns of this world. Since then He has held my hand through many diverse circumstances: good, bad and ugly as sin.

As I come to know who God is, I taste of the unconditional love that knows no bounds, that compels one with unceasing desire to love Him back. God's Word teaches me how to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and I relish the process.

Once we allow Him to fill us up, God's love cannot be contained. I know a lady who is so radiant with the love of God that I fell in love with her the moment we met. His love pours through her, spilling over into all her relationships and fueling her daily acts of kindness and mercy. She gives and gives of herself, and the Lord keeps filling her. She cries a lot, tears of joy, awe, or sadness when others are hurting. I think she weeps as Jesus wept, for the lost; she embraces the world and just loves.

Another friend expressed: "There comes a time when we want Him more than anything else in the world." This love for God can be physically painful as it moves us into His presence. Remember, it cannot be contained, but imagine beholding His countenance once we are free of our earthly bodies.

How do we love God? I began by saying, "Lord, I love you." It felt awkward at first, but I kept saying the words anyway. Eventually they took meaning, and later I added other words like praise, worship, glorify, honor and adore. Today, the first words that fall from my lips upon awakening are, "Lord, I love you."

How do we obey the second greatest commandment? By obeying the first.

Lord, today I choose to tell you I love you, no matter what.

From "Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World" by Dianne Finnegan Wilson.

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