I remember a phrase uttered by a brother at a church meeting in Toledo Ohio in 1993. He was praying and he prayed for "an increased capacity to love." It was the first time I ever heard that phrase. It impressed me enough that I have never forgotten it and I have since said it many times in prayer.
1 John 4
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
If our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ are the very embodiment of love, should not we invite more love into our lives?
I've reflected on love a lot this month. Isn't it after all the month of cupids and cherubs? We had a fairly uneventful Valentines Day. A sweet sister provided sugar cookies for our family and all of the missionaries. Sister Jaggi and I took a few hours on the missionaries preparation day that week and skied together, enjoying the mountain air and a brief solace from a hectic pace. I love my bride. She is an amazing woman...resilient, strong, faithful, musical, spiritual and yes, loving. She left behind her beautiful new home, wonderful neighbors and friends, her music children and their families to serve an unexpected 3 year mission. There is no doubt that we are learning to love more fully and deeply here. We love the missionaries, the people, the work of the Lord, the changes taking place in our family. Because of our experience, I'm left pondering the following....Is learning to love like God loves commensurate with increased sacrifice?
It's been a few days since I began this blog post. The intermediate hymn of the Ogden Stake Conference was also from the Book of John. Read these wonderful words.
"As I have loved you, love one another. By this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." It is not a coincidence that as I've been pondering the importance of love, that the song epitomizing love is sung. God is in the details of our lives. There is no such thing as happenstance...we are in our circles of friends, in our neighborhoods and churches for a purpose. God has placed us together at this time to learn from one another and to love one another.
So how can we love more fully? When we align our will with the Lords and become "one" we understand what he wants for us and our love deepens for our fellow men and women. I find it interesting that the first words Jesus declares after he introduces himself to the people in the ancient Americas after they had waited for Him for thousands of years are the following in 3 Nephi 11 in the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ...
"11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning."
Jesus immediately aligns himself with His father. He drunk of the cup which the Father had given him, he glorified the Father, he suffered the will of the Father. Later in verse 27, he declares that He and the Father and the Holy Ghost are one. If Jesus, who is the embodiment of perfect love declares He is doing His Fathers will, oh how much more need have we to do what our Savior and redeemer ask of us...commands us. When he was asked in Matthew 22
"36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
We can, we must love one another better. I love my wife. I love my wonderful children. The blessings of missionary service are certainly being made manifest in our lives. Some of those blessings are simple. Mackenzie was accepted to BYU, Emma passed her drivers license test on the first try. They both were asked to Prom last week. Josh scored 17 points in a basketball game and Eliza got straight A's on her report card. They recognize the blessings and I love them for that.
I love the missionaries of the Church. We say goodbye to another group of missionaries this week. With each group that leaves, a piece of our hearts go with them. I am amazed at how much love I have for these young men and women. It is a fierce love, a deep love and an abiding love.
May we all pray for and apply an increased capacity to love.