We play this game at our house: I love you more than... From me to my kids: "I love you more than chocolate and peanut butter." "I love you more than vacations and books and - email!" They tell me they love me more than SpongeBob (whew!), more than a day off from school, more than Xbox.
But then my littlest piped up with a question that stopped me in my tracks.
"Mommy, do you love us more than God?"
I froze. Couldn't these kids toss me a softball question? Something along the lines of, "How does God make babies?" or, "If God made everything, then who made Him?"
I took a deep breath; certain my quavering voice would betray me.
Yes, my beautiful babies... I love God more; at least I think I'm supposed to. Gulp. It was hard to say. It's hard to write.
Three pairs of eyes, slanted, angry. WHAT? How could you love God more than us (and a sarcastic, "wow, mom" from the oldest)? Ouch; but I couldn't blame them. I've been telling them since they were babies that I love them more than anything or anyone. I mean, chocolate and peanut butter! That's got to be one of the world's greatest pleasures.
I gathered my sullen brood to explain the answer they clearly had not expected. And though I won't say I'm any good at it, I believe I'm called to love God first. Even before my husband and children, my most important human relationships. Thing is, if I place Him first in my life, I love them more fully.
You see, loving God first means I practice humility, even when I'm certain I'm right and my hubby's wrong. Loving God first means I make choices with my time so I'm invested and present in my kids' lives. Loving God first means I steward my money wisely so I refrain from overindulging them at the expense of also helping the needy. Loving God first means I discipline their transgressions and shape their hearts to think of others first.
Matthew 22:37 tells us Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." I've said before love is an action. I don't claim to get all of this right. It's an effort for me to prioritize His place in my heart. But I believe we're asked to do this so the rest of our choices align with His plan. For me it means I have to praise and love the Creator - even before the creations.
So, yes, my precious, noisy brood, I am called to love God first. And I try. But it's only because I love you so very, very much. More than chocolate and peanut butter!
Diane Meehl lives with her husband and their three children in Ahwatukee Foothills. They worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. File complaints or make suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.