The moment the courageous prophet Elijah appeared on the scene, standing before wicked king Ahab, announcing drought on the land, God affirmed what Elijah testified: this one stood before the face of the Lord. From that place of holy intimacy, everything else in Elijah’s life flowed.
Time and again, whatever Elijah touched literally burned with holy love: God’s love for a person who stood before him with an undivided heart. Elijah’s love for his incredible God. The love God had, and imparted to Elijah, for people who could not receive it, because they wouldn’t let go of everything else they were trying to embrace.
You, too, be blessed to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). It’s the key to everything else.
Did you ever try to use a key that should work, but didn’t? That often happens with a copy of the original. To the eye, it seems a match. But the copy key is off just enough that it doesn’t open what it should fling wide.
Did you ever try to love the Lord with all your heart – but it didn’t seem to work? Try as you might, you couldn’t make it click.
That often happens when we unwittingly use a copy key. We make an honest effort, but come up empty, because we’ve put our own spin on the words love and heart.
To our thinking, we feel with our heart, and think with our mind – and, together, heart and mind comprise the sum total of the “inner person,” the soul. Scripture paints a different picture, one much more complex. Together, the Word and the Spirit reveal us as three-part beings, not just body and soul.
For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says that holiness involves our entire “spirit, soul and body.” Deuteronomy 6:5 commands us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength. The two lists seem to correlate. The third item in each list – body, strength – speaks of our physical nature. Soul, in both lists, does seem to encompass the mind and emotions. But what about the first item on each list – spirit and heart?
I’d suggest: They’re parallel too. When God calls us to love him with all our heart, he’s talking about a singleness in yearning toward him that springs from the depths of our innermost being, the part that is one with him. We read those words and think they’re commanding a feeling.
And so, we try to love the Lord from our souls. Mentally, we try to figure out how to do it. Emotionally, we try to summon up an “all our heart” feeling, an over-the-top fireworks kind of love.
But we cannot do it. We cannot conjure up such a feeling. We certainly can’t sustain it. The key will not turn in the lock.
So let’s throw away the copy key.
Instead of trying to conjure up an emotion, ask God to teach you to respond to him from the deepest essence of who you are. Day after day, stand before his face, and open yourself to him, as fully as you know how. Pray to know him and to honor him – and ask for grace to walk whatever path he takes you in order to accomplish both.
As your spirit learns to respond freely to Christ’s Spirit, you’ll find yourself impelled by something stronger than emotion and more certain than intellect. The asking will become yearning – a hunger deep in your spirit to know him, a thirst for his name to be hallowed and his kingdom to come.
Then, to your amazement, your soul will join in. It will echo your spirit-yearnings. Your mind and emotions will participate joyfully in what they could not start. And even when God takes you places that make no sense and where your emotions scream not to go, your spirit will recognize God’s voice, your soul will surrender – and all of you will go with God.
Adapted from The Elijah Blessing: An Undivided Heart. © 2012 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
In the place where Ahab and Jezebel ruled, Elijah loved fiercely and lived fully. As you peek into lives lived long ago, learn how spiritual schizophrenia opens the way for Ahab and Jezebel to rule today. Receive the Elijah Blessing – the blessing of an undivided heart.