The routine answer will not do | Avalon Church

There are three very comfortable chairs arranged around a low table in the front room of my house. Behind one of them is a big window through which the eastern sunrise shines. That chair is my favorite place for Bible reading and prayer. Mornings in that chair, with the scripture in my lap, a cup of coffee in my hand and the sun beaming over my shoulder, are always special.

However, last week I had some unexpected interactions with the Lord. Monday, after reading some in the book of Nehemiah (meditating on sermon preparations), I closed my eyes to pray, as is my routine. But I strongly sensed the Lord Jesus asking me to open my eyes, look at the chair directly across the center table and envision Him sitting there. So I focused on that chair and found it surprisingly easy to picture a man named Jesus sitting there. Immediately within my spirit I heard, “Do you love me?”

Now this might seem to be a simple question with a simple answer: “Of course I love you, Lord.” But my mind quickly went to John 21, where Jesus asked Peter a very similar question, and I knew the inquiry went deeper than something that could be satisfied with a routine, “I love you, too” (like had occurred thirty minutes earlier when I walked Debbie to her car, kissed her, after which she said, “I love you” and I responded, “I love you, too.”).

No, this was more than a passing conversation. So I gave it some attention and replied with “evidences” that I love Him; regular Bible study and prayer, faithful church attendance and giving, teaching and preaching, pastoral counseling. In the moment I sensed Lord saying, “That’s good, Jim. Thank you.”

All good. Until Tuesday morning when the same sequence occurred. Jesus in the chair and the question, “Do you love me?” My thoughts turned quickly to Peter and his concern and frustration at being asked this a second (and third) time. Obviously, it was time to get beyond the superficial and really probe what it means, what it looks like and feels like to “love the Lord my God.” Many thoughts, no conclusions.

One more time on Wednesday. By this time it was clear to me that I did not fully understand what it means to “love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength” and that the answer was not to be found in more thorough Bible study but in intensely personal reflection and intentional conversation with Jesus.

Thursdays I gather early in the morning with the Elders to pray so there was no time in my favorite chair that morning. But the first three days of the week had revealed a lot about me and given me much to pursue in my journey with Jesus.

Perhaps this might be a good week to let the Lord also ask you, “Do you love me?”

Pastor Jim

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