There are a few things in life you simply can’t force yourself to do. You can’t force yourself to fall asleep. In fact, the more you tell yourself to fall asleep, the less likely you are to actually fall asleep.
And you can’t force yourself to love. Every heartbroken person whose girlfriend or boyfriend just broke up with them knows this. By the time we’re adults, this is cemented in the common phrase, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” You just can’t force some things.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love…’Matthew 22:35-40
If we can’t force ourselves to love, why does Jesus say the “greatest commandment” is love?
It’s because we are wired to be wooed. It’s because God is in the business of wooing us.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.Ezekiel 36:26-27
What does it mean to have a heart of flesh? How does God intend to “move us to follow his decrees”?
TV, movies, books, fairytales —you know the story. The dorky guy stops at nothing for the pretty girl, undeterred by her initial stony indifference. Patiently, the dork waits for his chance to prove his love to her. He defends her. He gets beaten up for her. He’s there for her when no one else is. He accepts her for who she is.
Slowly, but surely he starts to look less and less like a dork. The music plays, there’s a build up to a dramatic kiss (usually in the rain), and then she suddenly realizes this dork is no dork at all. This is the love of her life.
She’s been wooed! Her stony heart has been softened. Her indifference has turned into tender love. Cliche? Of course! But any (honest) person will admit they have a soft spot for this kind of story.
Persistent love can melt the stoniest hearts. It is this kind of love that woos us. It is this kind of love which God has for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.John 3:16
The story of God and humanity is the “one fairytale that is actually true,” as C.S. Lewis once famously told J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s the love story beneath all love stories.
But the phrase “God loves you” has lost a bit of its force hasn’t it?
Try this: God wants you. He wants a relationship of love with you, for you to live your life to fullest, to carry your burdens, and to make you capable of good things you could never imagine yourself capable of.
God wanted these things so much that “he gave his one and only son…”
…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.Hebrews 12:2
Jesus died for you. Let that sink in. He endured the cross, the shame, the humiliation, not because he deserved it, but because it was the only way to get what he wanted. You are the only thing God didn’t have before the dying on the cross, and to Him, you were worth all of that. If there were more he could have done, he would have done it.
We are so easily wooed by schmaltzy love stories. Won’t you let yourself be wooed by the God of heaven, stopping at nothing to be with you, to win your love, to overcome your greatest enemy, death, for you?
Love has done the deed! May this love melt your stony heart. May you be wooed.
God, thank you for the lengths you went to love me. Soften my stony heart with your love.
Write this phrase down and meditate for 5 minutes on this phrase, “God wants me.”
Write down your impulse reactions, your revulsions, your excitements, your gratitude.
End with a sentence or two of gratitude.