This is the last blog post in the series on suffering and what you’re about to read are the most important words written in the series. You can do everything written so far concerning suffering, but if you don’t have this right, it all falls apart. (To read the whole series, just click on Suffering under the CATEGORIES heading in the right hand column of the God Running home page.)
Barry White’s Take On Love
Barry White used to perform a song called You’re The First, The Last, My Everything. And in that song, he’s singing about a woman, and here are a few things he says about her:
You are “my everything, …the answer to all my dreams.”
You are “…my sun, my moon, my guiding star, …that’s what you are.”
“You’re all I’m living for, you’re love I’ll keep forever more”
“…see so many ways that I, can love you ’til the day I die.”
“You’re the first, you’re the last, my everything.”
When a young man loves a woman like that, nothing else seems to matter. The head gasket blows out in his car, so now he has to borrow his parents’ champaign colored 1998 Lincoln Continental with a torn headliner, but he doesn’t care so much. Because he has her. And like the song says, she’s all he’s living for.
Then the new video game he bought arrives from Amazon. He’s excited about it until he finds it doesn’t work with one of the components on his home built computer. But that’s not so bad. Because he has her. And she’s his sun, his moon, his guiding star.
Then his best friend tells him he lost his trilogy of the Rings DVD set (Blu-ray). But it’s not such a big deal. Because he has her. And she’s his first, his last, and his everything.
But, what happens when it’s over?
It’s worth noting, Barry White’s first wife wasn’t his last. And his second wife wasn’t his first, or his last. Barry said in his song, “You’re all I’m living for, your love I’ll keep forever more.” But apparently his women had other ideas.
So what happens to the man who gives a woman the ultimate place in his heart, and in his soul, and in his mind? What happens–when she dumps him?
We all know what happens. We’ve all seen it happen to a friend, or we’ve experienced it ourselves.
She dumps him.
And he crashes.
Why It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
But the thing is, the young man who loves the woman crashes much harder than he needs to.
There’s nothing wrong with loving a woman of course. The ice gets thin, the branch gets weak, the problem occurs when a woman becomes the ultimate, ahead of God Himself. When our heart’s desire, or the desire of our heart, is on something other than God, we’ll crash hard when we lose it.
Putting a woman or anything else ahead of God will never end well for you.
Jesus said that the foremost commandment was this:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
We all love something in this way. We all have hearts, and souls, and minds that desire something. The question is, what is the object of your desire? If you love money, or your career, or sports, or your kids, or video games, or your health, or your blog, or anything else more than you love God, you’ll crash when you lose whatever it is that sits in God’s place. And anything but God Himself is fragile. Anything but God Himself is precariously lose-able.
The One Who Is Un-Lose-able
But if you love God, the way Jesus prescribes to love God, you become like the young man who loved the woman. You start to think and feel the way he did. Your thinking goes something like this: “Yes, I took a huge financial hit, but we’ll get through it, after all, I have God. Sure I got laid off, but we’ll make it through, because I have God.” Even the young man who loses the beautiful woman, if he has God as his ultimate in his life, will find his disappointment greatly tempered by God’s presence. If he has God as his ultimate, in his heart. And God as his ultimate in his soul. And God as his ultimate in his mind. If he has God’s presence as his ultimate, ahead of everything else in life, he keeps his comfort because his confidence is in someone who is unlose-able.
God, is the one thing you can’t lose. He is the only thing you can’t lose. Anything and everything else is imminently lose-able.
If God is ultimate in your life, whatever may come your way, you might crash, your spirit might be crushed, but you’ll get back up.
This blog post is the foremost blog post written in the series on suffering. There’s tremendous power in putting God first. Your life will change when you do this. You’re stress will reduce when you do this. Your anxiety will dissipate when you do this. You’ll find strength in the face of difficulties beyond your own capacity to endure. Read Job and you’ll see that this is the very thing that sustained him through his horrible trials.
Putting God ahead of everything else, that’s the foremost commandment, Jesus said.
He said to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Do that, and see what God does with your suffering.
Make Him your ultimate.
References and Resources:
Tim Keller has an excellent teaching on what the Bible says about the causes of a crushed spirit. You can listen to it here: The Wounded Spirit
Skip Heitzig, Christians in the Crucible of Pain, Connection Communications, 2012
Jim Davis, Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question), Leafwood, 2014
Steve Mays, Overwhelmed by God, Regal Books, 2014
Image via Will Foster – Creative Commons
The person who provided the image at the top of this post, Will Foster, has a different song, displayed on the same page as his photo. It’s a song performed by the David Crowder Band called Only You from their Illuminate Album:
Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned
And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord
Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
You’re my delights, be my everything
And It’s just you and me here now
Only you and me here now
You should see the view
When it’s only You
This is my favorite sentence from your blog post Kurt, “If you love money, or your career, or sports, or your kids, or video games, or your health, or your blog, or anything else more than you love God, you’ll crash when you lose whatever it is that sits in God’s place.” Wow, what a powerful truth!
I think this blog post is very timely as we just started a new year. It’s a good reminder that this is a prime time for us to take inventory of our lives and to see what/who is #1 in our lives. If it isn’t God, then we need to make a change ASAP.
Good point Peter, I hadn’t thought of it as a call to take inventory for the new year. That’s a great idea. Letting something slip into God’s place can be so subtle. For me, even ministry can slip into God’s place if I’m not careful.