Do you remember your first “love?” If you’re like me, you probably had some sort of crush on a person while you were pretty young, long before you had any real idea of what it meant to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, what it meant to date or even what it really meant to love someone.
I was in 5th grade when I reached out to my first real crush. Her name was Kimberly, and we used to hang out together on the playground at recess. We had attended the same school together, since 1st grade, and had often been with the same teacher during those years. We used to talk, hang out on the playground together and even attended the same summer camp one year.
One day I realized that I liked her for more than just a friend, and so over the weekend, my buddies convinced me that it was time to take the next step in our relationship. I learned the method for boldly asking a girl out involved me writing a note that said, “Will you go out with me?” complete with two check-boxes, one with the word “no” next to it, and one with the word “yes” next to it. The proper way to distribute this kind of formal invitation is to hand it to your best friend, who hands it to her best friend, who then hands it to the person you hope will read it.
I followed this process to a “T” and anxiously awaited Kimberly’s response. At the end of the school day, the note was passed from said girl, to her friend, to my friend, to me, and I casually placed the response in my back pocket. On the way home from school, as soon as no one was with me, I grabbed the note, took a deep breath and read her response: she had checked the “yes” box! Here I was in 5th grade, and I. Had. A. Girlfriend.
Turns out, having a girlfriend is quite a complicated issue. The next day, word was out and people were talking about the school’s newest couple. Yet, when I saw Kimberly, I didn’t know what to do. So being the Suave Latino Lover that I am, I chose to avoid making eye contact, and certainly did not speak a word to her. In fact, I remember making sure our paths didn’t cross for the whole day so that I didn’t have to figure out what to do or say with this girlfriend of mine.
Apparently that’s not what impresses a girl. Who knew? The next day, I kept up the same tactic and by day’s end I received a note from her friend to my friend to me, that explained that our relationship just wasn’t working out. I guess girl’s think you should talk to them and engage them if you like them and I was like, “Hey, you can find me on the wall ball court if you want to chat!” And just like that, my first relationship ended as quickly as it started.
Recently I was preaching through the “Let Us” phrases of the book of Hebrews, and I came across Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart…” That phrase “sincere heart” has a cool meaning when the Greek is translated literally: “A heart answering to the ideal.” In other words, if a heart answers to the ideal (in this case, drawing near to God) it is undivided in its attention and focus. To draw near to God requires us to approach with an undivided heart!
As a 5th grader, I had no idea what it means to pursue someone with an undivided heart. Talking with my buddies, I really liked the idea of having a girlfriend, but in reality, I didn’t have the maturity to understand what a relationship entailed. In the same way, I think a lot of people, a lot of Christians, like the idea of “..draw[ing] near to God…” but don’t have the maturity to understand what it means to pursue Him with an undivided heart.
After all, we are a culture of divided interests. We love our sports. We love our food. We love our families. We love our houses and jobs. We love our income. We love our free time. We love our hobbies. We love our technology. We love our kids’ sports. We love our [_____ insert your love here _____] None of these, by themselves, is necessarily bad, but any one of these can become a barrier to having an undivided heart toward the Lord. Should I love my wife? ABSOLUTELY! But my love for her must come secondary to my love for God. When I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, He enables me to love others more effectively than I could on my own.
Drawing near to God, a life-long ongoing process, should be the greatest aim of all believers. It is the root of bringing glory to Him with our lives, and the primary means by which we can gain perspective on everything else. When I am drawn in close to the Father, through Jesus, I have all that I need to manage the life He has given me. Easy? No! Simple? Yes!
Tomorrow when you wake up, check the “yes” box next to the question, “Will you draw near to me?” and ask God to help you follow through. Maybe you need to take a break from another relationship or hobby or technology or job in order to find that undivided heart. Whatever it is, know that drawing near to God will help you live life, out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!