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Split Souls

 I love to write. I like to daydream about what I'll write next. When I hear beautiful music, I envision new scenes. Sometimes the only bright spot in my day is the fifteen or so minutes I get to write. I like to outline scenes and plot my characters' development. I like to research new words and animal behavior and landscape formations. I like to re-read chapters until I've corrected all the typos. I even like to write when I don't feel like writing. Sometimes the mere discipline of sitting down and letting my fingers type whatever comes to mind gets the creative juices flowing and before I know it, something worthwhile has developed.

I love to write with all my heart and mind and strength. And this is the way I think we are commanded to love God. 

Loving God is not merely a choice we make everyday. Loving God is not merely a passion that burns within us. Loving God is not merely the research and study to increase our knowledge about him. Loving God involves all parts of us.

But we are people with split souls, fragmented and divided. We tend to love God relying on what comes natural to us.

The people who rely on their own strength love God with all their own choosing. They follow the "right" way whether they feel like it or not. They are disciplined in their bible reading or daily prayer or in their ability to separate themselves from sticky emotional drama, but while they act on their own steam, they're only dressing up as a son of God instead of actually being a son of God. And it shows. They bleed anger for they have split their souls in half and bottled up their emotions.

They are like the prodigal son's brother who resented the grace given to his wayward brother. They are like the pharisees who Jesus described as white-washed sepulchers. They have a hard time understanding why other people don't just make the right choices. And yet, they have two lives, one on the outside and another on the inside. And though they do great things, the Lord will say, "Depart from me. I never knew you." 

The people who rely on their hearts love God with all their passion. They feel God's presence in beautiful songs and upon sandy beaches. They are ruled by their heart's hurt for the rejected and wounded. In fact, they care more for what others will think or say or feel than they do what God thinks or says or feels. And while their anxious emotions set the tempo for their thoughts and actions, they are merely a plaything of their passions. And it shows.

They are like King David when he followed his heart and then sought to justify it. They are like the Israelites wandering in the desert wishing for Egypt's good food and a physical manifestation of their God. They follow their heart's yearnings which wants to be the center of everything, which desires hell itself.

The people who rely on their knowledge love God with all their minds. They separate themselves from action or difficult emotions until they can know that they are secure. But while they study God and his Word without ever living it, they can never say that they have put their faith in him. They have turned religion into information that fails to calm their fears.

They are like the rich young ruler who knew scripture well, but could not give up his riches to follow Christ. They are like the seed planted among the thorns whose growth was choked by the worries of the world. They are like the fig tree that Jesus cursed for it produced no good fruit. Can such a faith save anyone?

You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them. (Matthew 14b-15 ESV)
If we are to love God with our whole selves, we must stop relying on the way we think we love God best because this strength of ours will betray us. It can't continue loving people who don't make sense to us. It has no mercy for those who make the same mistakes again and again. It can't stand criticism or betrayal or dark feelings. It is anxious and fearful and angry. It cannot support our house's foundation, and when the ocean waves roll in, it will fall. 

But blessed is the one who sees that his strengths are the very things preventing him from having faith in the Lord. Blessed is he who turns away from himself and into the arms of the savior. He finds everything he was looking for and more. He finds strength, passion, and wisdom to work out his salvation with a whole heart.

"As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Matthew 13:23 ESV)

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