What if the main reason we fail to love God as we ought is because we are afraid to be fully loved by him? The scriptures make it clear that we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19), so our love for him can only be a reflection of and response to our own first-hand knowledge of his divine love for us. Thus, if we fail to encounter and experience God’s love fully, then we will fail to love him fully in return.
But why on earth would we be afraid to experience the passion, depths, and delight of God’s extravagant love? Who knows? Maybe it’s too intense. Maybe we are afraid it will be too much for us. As a dear friend of mine once said, “If God was any more intimate with me, I don’t think I could stand it.” Or maybe it’s too demanding. Maybe it requires something of us that we are not sure we will be able to give. That kind of love can only be experienced through total surrender and wild abandon. Unfortunately, surrender and abandon have never been our strong suit. Or maybe it’s all about control. Maybe our hesitation to be fully loved by God has more to do with the fact that his love just puts us so out of control. As a friend and mentor used to pray, “O Lord, I want to know the depths of your delight and affection, but please promise to be gentle with me.”
We want passionate intimacy with God, but it also kind of scares us. We are drawn to it and hesitant of it at the same time. Yet, our only hope of ever being able to love God as we ought, lies in us opening ourselves up to being fully loved by him. It will come only when we are able to truly pray, “Here I am, O Lord, have your way with me.”
O Lord, unless I let you fully love me, I will never be able to fully love you. Give me the courage and the grace and the strength to let you have your way with me. Amen.