We continue with our meditation on the lessons to be learned from the life and times of the patriarch, Enoch. (Gen 5:18-24).
All the things most likely to distract you and me away from God were a danger to Enoch’s relationship with God. There were family responsibilities, work obligations and entertainment. Yet he managed 300 years of daily devotion. We find it hard to manage 15 minutes of spiritual reading and prayer a few days each week!
We try harder and harder and take on more and more to be and to do. Those who seek to be “wisdom” for us tell us to “dream big” while urging us to pay more attention to detail. How is all of this working out for us?
Some people…a lot of people…go right on pursuing their obsessions in their own strength until it runs out and then demand more! Why didn’t Enoch do this?
There is only one thing that can pull us away from ourselves and the persons and things we idolize–a greater love. Enoch fell in love with God and wanted to spend the rest of eternity at his side.
How does anyone really fall in love? There is some moment, some thought, some glimpse or sound that you hear that let’s you know that its source calls you to be more of your true self together than you are apart and on your own. You truly burn with desire to make that so. Your life changes from black and white to full color when that happens like it did for Dorothy when she realized she was in Oz and said, “Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”
It happens that way between God and us, even more so. Your lover may send you a Hallmark Valentine’s card and a dozen roses. But God sends you a rainbow after the storm and sunlight through the forest leaves on summer mornings. He surprises you with daffodils in March and sugar maples in October. He delights you with sea foam and sounding whales. He takes your breath with geese flying south across the harvest moon and the first grip of a tiny hand. He creates a smile out of a child’s laugh and a friend’s kindness.
Jesus Christ, the “Lover of Your Soul,” does not invite you to assuage your guilt by obligation. He proposes no relationship of convenience, no accommodation for the sake of image, and no mutual arrangement for gain or survival. I am talking about love here–true, honest and full-blooded, “I can’t live without you” passion. The kind of desire that blinds us to everything else and says, “I am going with you wherever you go because I trust that you are the right and best one for me.” A love like that makes you want to walk together for 300 years and on into eternity regardless of what business opportunities, entertainment, family obligations and community services tug on your heart and call for your attention.
Who else looks you in the eye and says, “I lay down my life for you; I came that you might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, 15)? Who else takes you to meet his Father and says, “I ask…that they all may be one…I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-21, 23).
When we are in love, we seek out the thoughts and want to please the object of our adoration. When we fall in love with Jesus Christ and know, really know, that he is in love with us, minute by minute, hour by hour, we yield ourselves to do his pleasure.
Your fear may be that if you give in to a love of Christ that intense and demanding of your soul and spirit that you will not be able to meet your obligations of love and support of your family and colleagues. God’s grace is sufficient to overwhelm your doubts in this regard with reliability. Loving Jesus does not mean infidelity to your spouse, your children or your true friends. Faced with a lawyer’s demand to identify the greatest commandment, Jesus told him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the greatest and first commandment and a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:36-37).
In Jesus’ teaching, “your neighbor” always means whoever needs your kindness. Obviously, Jesus taught if you put your love and devotion into God you are going to find that you are loving God’s children as well because “The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 4:21-5:2). If Enoch did not care for his family there would have been no testimony that he walked with God for 300 years. If I don’t love those whom God has put in my life, my existence is nothing more than irritating background noise (1 Cor. 13:1).
Enoch walked with God because it was the most wonderful thing he could do and there was no excuse for not doing so. Ultimately, we run out of excuses as well for not living and loving as we were created to do. In the seizure of your soul by the Greatest Love, may you know the intimate companionship of the same God who loves you and waits for you to enjoy the long walk of eternity with him. Heed the call of your Beloved to you:
Arise, my love, my fair one and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:10-13).
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who find refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Next time we will continue looking at the lessons to be learned from the life and times of the patriarch, Enoch.
Under the mercy of Christ,
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The Lord is the strength of his people;