The Weekly Dream: The Greatest Love of All

The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men”
-Isaiah 29:13
As the final week of Love Month, I struggled with how to close out this series. I began to reminisce on the times I have felt love and been loved, when I have experienced tough love and had to sacrifice. I really wanted to understand the character of love and its effect on me as a person. Eventually, as I followed this line of thought, I came to how I have developed as a person and how my understanding of God developed over time. Now walk with me for a moment. I am not doing an altar call or nothing like that, and I do not expect to win any popularity contests, but this is too important to sweep under the rug.

I grew up in a Christian household, reading the Bible, praying before meals and going to Church on Sundays. Do not get me wrong, I broke my fair share of commandments, but I did what I thought a good Christian should do for the most part.

Make it real for you…

But as I entered manhood, and no one was there to “make” me go to Church, I began to question my upbringing. Not that I wanted to switch religions or anything, but I had become frustrated with the imposition of rules and judgment by other people. I was tired of people bringing God into things He had no part of. I did not like what I had seen and the world I was entering. My interactions with others just caused more confusion. So I went through this real selfish phase, where I was just out for me. I was going to “figure it out for myself”. I was not going to bother God with the small everyday things, I would just tap him for the “big stuff.” I was full of pride. I wanted things to go my way and God to ride shotgun.

The reality was that I needed to get to know God for myself.

Up to this point, God had not yet become real to me, like really real. He was still in the sky.

You Got It Bad

One day, it sunk in that God wanted a relationship with me. I thought about how I acted when I first fell in love. Let me tell you, I love hard; it is all or nothing with me. So, when I fell in love with that special person, there was no more “me”, it was “us” from that day forward. When I looked around, everything reminded me of her. There is nothing I would not do or give if she needed or asked. And I didn’t expect anything in return. I was just glad to be able to come through for her. If she hurt me, I just couldn’t stop loving her, though I wanted to. I would not eat or sleep until things were right with us.

If I was having a bad day, just hearing her voice was enough to make everything all right. All I wanted to talk about was her. All roads lead back to her. I would move heaven and earth to make them happy. There were times when I did not have a dime to my name, but I would hustle up some change to make sure she did not have to go without. I was literally in my own world and she was queen.

This behavior was so irrational that people who have never experienced it think you are crazy. My family and friends thought I had developed a drug habit or something, because I was sooo not me anymore. I had lost all control and I did not care. I was consumed with love.

Once I experienced this, I understood it when in the Bible it said that God wants us to love Him with everything we have. It became real for me.

So from that day forward, I began to treat God as if He were a real person.

Love Makes Things Easy

A lot of people treat God as an option and not a necessity. Would you go days without saying anything to your significant other or children? How would you feel if your girlfriend or boyfriend never said “thank you” or “I love you”, ever? Or if you gave them everything they needed and wanted and they did not recognize how much effort you put forth and took you for granted?

If we treated people the way we treat God sometimes, no one would want anything to do with us. We would find ourselves alone very quickly. Yet, I believe that until you get that first relationship right, you cannot truly love others to your fullest potential.

The real question is why we treat God this way. Why do people treat God as a chore? For me, it was because I had not fully embraced God’s love. Love makes those things that are hard, easy. For example, if you love what you do, you can do it for hours. But if you hate it, time drags on. It is the same with spiritual matters. If you find that you possess this same attitude, and that you do not have the same joy doing what God wants or spending time seeking Him, then you might take a step back. It is a privilege to have God in our lives, because loving us is not easy. You and I are not good people all the time.

So how can we make a change? Make God real. Like human relationships, every one’s relationship with God will be different. Just like your marriage is going to be different than your best friends’ marriage. However, there are common traits that every normal and functional relationship has: good communication, concern, understanding, fidelity, etc. That is how you can measure the development of the relationship, by the fruit or characteristics of it.

In my generation, I run into a lot of my peers who use their distrust of the Church as a reason to not fully pursue their spiritual development. They think the pastors are crooked, the church folks were hypocrites, they would rather pay their tithes to a charity than to the Church and it was just phony. Others would say, “Well I just try to be a good person.”

I heard this with such frequency, I never stopped to think of it. When I did, I realized these statements arose out of ignorance and a misconception. If you think a pastor is crooked, you should not be a part of that ministry. You should go to a ministry that is not crooked. It is not about the church people being hypocrites, there are hypocrites inside and outside the church. If you have it all together, go and help those individuals out. Rare is the person whose words line up completely with their actions.

As far as tithes, you are not paying them to man, or an establishment, but because God wants you to. What the pastor or the church government does with those is between them and God, you did your part. And being a good person is just the beginning, God still wants to know you. And more importantly, that does not mean you know Him.

So the real issue is that people do not want to change. And when love comes, along with that comes the challenge to change and grow.

You Got It Bad

As with any relationship, it takes time and experience to develop. Maturity and perfection is a constant striving in order to manifest potential. Some days are going to be better than others, but the important point is to keep pressing forward. God is not going to send you to hell for a curse word or because you have a drink. But eventually He wants us to get to a place where we do not even have the desire to do the things we use to. God wants your heart. He knows it is a process, you should know it too.

It was not my intent to sermonize anyone. Everyone must walk their own path and come to their own spiritual awakening. Some people are further along than others. Nor am I saying that you should blindly adhere to any man’s doctrine or religion. Religion is no substitute for relationship. The truth is more than capable of withstanding scrutiny.

However, I felt I would be doing a great injustice to not at least touch on this. You may or may not agree with me. Even today, when an overwhelming majority of Americans profess to believe in God, the topic of religion is still an extremely sensitive subject. I am not saying I have it down. If I have learned anything this last year, it is that walking in love is not easy. I still struggle, I still want to do things my way, but I have to remember that there is no more “me”, it is “us”.

Take God out of Heaven and put Him in your heart.

Get to know God as a Father and Friend, in your own special way.

Walk in love. God is love.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas

Question of the Week: How did God become real to you?


Tags: ,

3 responses to “The Weekly Dream: The Greatest Love of All”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Wow Steve…you were so on point with this one. I know so many people needed to hear this. The process you described in coming to know God…I went through that last year. And today, I’m at a much happier place in my life. Thanks for sharing this email with me and so many others!

  2. Anonymous says :

    It seems like a lot of what you said has really resonated with me and reflected some of what I have experienced in my own life in terms of developing a relationship with God. Unlike you I did not grow up in a household where God was talked about, church attended or praying before meals, etc. As a matter of fact I think I rolled on an elaborate version of “Now I lay me down to sleep” until I was about 13. I have one childhood memory of ever going to church. Now of course my life took a dramatic turn with the passing of my mother, and it wasn’t until then that I started to seek God for myself and going to church on my own. Not even knowing that Jesus’s words were written in red, I started to go to church and soak up all I could. I could not imagine that so much Life was available for grasp and I had never had a taste. I did hit a stale period when I was taken away from my first church in Ann Arbor and felt unsatisfied by the options in my hometown. But God has a way to put you into a place where you will be fed and I am very thankful to have a new place to get understanding and grow.

    I have been through a lot of push and pull between my religious values and my fleshy wants since then, still wanting to have a foot in the party of the world and my hand holding to God’s. I now see riding the fence will get you no where. It was illuminated to me one day laying in my bed wondering about the troubles I was having with the ‘love of my life.’ I want to give him everything and was willing to forgive him of everything wrong he had ever done or will do. I showed him time and time again that I would always be there for him, never desert him no matter what our relationship looked like. I just could not wrap my mind around how I could do anything else to show him how much I loved him. I just wanted us to have a happy relationship, in which we both benefited, had security, trust, and an everlasting bond of love. Then out of nowhere it came to me that I was starting to sound a lot like God. He has done so much for me, loves me unconditionally, and wants nothing more than to show His love for me and help me grow. No matter what wrong I do, He is there with open arms. All I have to do is turn towards Him and embrace Him, He will take care of the rest. This is much of what I felt for my ‘love.’ In developing my relationship with God, it has become ever-so-clear to me that I have to perfect my walk in love towards others. Now you know I am that cheery person, always wanting to spread smiles and hugs, concerned about everybody’s happiness. I have learned that walking in love can be harder than I originally thought. Setting your will to forgive others no matter what, holding your tongue and your temper, and checking your every action to make sure it lines up with God’s will can be VERY tough.

    I have learned to lean on other believers in hard times and of course on the Word. God became real to me, when I became real to myself about wanting to be close to Him, accept all the great things He has in store for me, and to be an extension of Him as a blessing to others. People in the world may not truly understand what you mean when you say you love them. They may not understand that you mean that you God them. Whatever God is willing to do for them and the love He wants to show, you are tool for Him to use to bless them. People may not be able to return that type of love, but knowing that you can provide that type of love is a real blessing.

    I had an experience in my life where I saw how much trust, respect, and love can exist between two people. We wanted so much to be a help and not a hindrance to each other that we let go of our own personal wants for the better good. To me that was what real love is about and makes my heart swell to think of how much that moment meant. Love does exist on this cold, ruthless planet and when you see it your faith can be stirred up to drive out all fear. My relationship with God opens my eyes to see the God in others and myself. Now that I am constantly sowing and tending to that relationship, it makes the relationships I have with others a little easier to deal with because with God in my heart I can smile and say “I love you.”

  3. ms mimi the mocha soulchild says :

    I think this is a wonderful post.

    God is a relationship, not just a tradition. Growing up a “church hopper” my mother always instilled in my a storng sense of the importance of God, staying connected to him through prayer and the word, but I had a hard time finding a spiritual community. For awhile I was one of the folks that hated organized religon. Truth be told, I still have issues with it, but that is the challenge God has given me.

    I think I developed my relationship with God before I did the Church. In the past five years my relationship with God has become more than an afterthought– or a pick me up. It has become the center of my life.

    I really developed a relationship with him where I am learning to do all those things we do when we love: trust, hope, believe, understand, seek….

    I think I came to this conclusion when I realized that life was more than just the race. I was at a low point, trying to change the world, but not changing myself. And then God let me know that he was calling me to develop a stronger relationship with him.

    All my family are Sunday church goers, but my family church did not resonate much with me. It wasn’t until I realized that I was missing something by being out of communion with others, did I return to my home church.

    It has been a struggle, beacause I am not into the traditionalism, I am into the relationship. But I trust that sometimes God sends you places to provide a word from him that only you can give.

    As Christians we are taught we are saved by grace, which is the unmerited favor of God, and It is by our works that we demonstrate our faith, but it is our faith that saves us. Therefore we can’t work our way to being right with God. If we all thought about that we’d be a little less judgemental of others.

    It has been good, however, it has been hard. As you grow youe relationship with God, you have to outgrow bad habits, destructive relationships, desires. But God helped me through that.

    Sometimes the traditions (or the letter of the law) keep people from accessing the spirit of the law. It may keep a young person, a homeless person, or someone with AIDS from seeking Christ. When that happens, we have to remember the second commandment– to love others as ourselves.

    I have a hard time with the Church sometimes because I treat my relationship with God so personally. But I’ve learned humility. There are no perfect people, espcially in church. The point of a relationship is not perfection, it is growth. How can you grow without struggle?

    We have to open our minds, and remember that the most important thing is, as you said, carrying God in our hearts at all time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: