Pause

“Omg. LOVE.” When a thumbs-up “like” is not enough, “LOVE” is what we write under a friend’s Facebook picture of her puppy. Love means “extreme like,” right?

But what if it’s more? Jesus makes love the core of his message, the key that unlocks everything else.

What if the love he speaks of is more than your momentary preferences? What if the love he speaks of is a choice? What if it’s harder than the love the world speaks of, but also bigger?

What if that kind of love is the only thing that can ever change us?

Maybe that love begins with an earnest look toward heaven, the sincere words on our lips: “Oh. My God.”

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Listen

God, you have ordered that your decrees should be kept most carefully. How I wish my ways were strong when it comes to keeping your statutes! Then I wouldn’t be ashamed when I examine all your commandments. I will give thanks to you with a heart that does right as I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes. Please don’t leave me all alone!

Psalm 119:4-8

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Think

“How I wish my ways were strong!” the psalmist says, “when it comes to keeping your ways.”

Shame can haunt us when we consider the ways we’ve failed ourselves, others, and God. But the psalmist doesn’t stay stuck there. The song continues:

“I will give thanks to you with a heart that does right, with a heart that keeps learning.”

When you get down on yourself, can you remember you’re a work in progress? That you’re still discovering how to be? That when you know better, you do better?

Just like a team gets stronger by training, so we get steadier in spirit by practice — waking up for church, giving our time and money, cheering each other on in courage, showing up in prayer, memorizing a Bible verse, or befriending the lonely.

And whenever you need help, call out to your coach as the psalmist did: “Please don’t leave me all alone!”

Cari Pattison

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Pray

God of love, how I wish my ways were strong. Give me the habits to train my spirit in gratitude, to be coached by you in a love that’s strong. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Go

Go now into the world
carried in the arms of love,
emboldened by the voice of love,
and sheltered under the wings of love.

Go now into a world
enslaved to a false love,
desperate for a word of love,
and more open than you can imagine to the God of love.

Cari Pattison

Cari Pattison graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and has served for eight years as the Associate Minister for The Reformed Church of Bronxville, a congregation just north of New York City. Originally from Kansas City, Cari fiercely loves the Royals (baseball), along with her family of Mom, Dad, and brothers. She teaches fitness classes and yoga and is presently on study leave—a fellowship through Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.

Ken Medema

Callings: Be Thou My Vision

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