The Meaning of Outrageous

Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

John Myer blogs at Bare Knuckle Bible

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, ESV)
All — consider how outrageous that command is. If you're not struck with the radical nature of it, you haven't read it carefully enough. "All" repeats multiple times in the verse, but what does it really mean? What does it look like? I 'm not crazy about the default image that pops into my mind — a bald version of myself sitting cross legged on a mountain, alone, communing with some kind of cosmic force. If we love God with our all, where does that leave spouses and children, friends, and relatives? Are we supposed to jettison them? No. All doesn't mean only. We know this because in the very next verse, Mark 12:31, we're told to love our neighbors, too. In fact, loving God with our all makes us better at loving others. It actually expands our ability to love and have community.

Still, what does this sold-out relationship look like as it exists between you and God? The good news is that we're not dealing with something so esoteric as to be without example.

Here's my story:

They call my home state of Louisiana "the Sportsman's Paradise." You can blindfold somebody, send them off in any direction for about a hundred yards, take the blindfold off, and that spot would make a good place to fish or hunt. I was ill-equipped for that world. The part of my brain that governs nerd-like activities had been overly-developed. As a result, I got euphoric sensations from reading and writing, not in steam baths of humidity out in the brush.

Meanwhile, my dad ignored my handicapped interest and took me and my brother fishing anyway. It was a ritual. We started out early on Saturday mornings at 5:30 a.m., loading our gear into an old Ford Falcon. The passenger door wouldn't shut without repeated efforts. We weren't allowed to even try closing it until we had cleared most of the neighborhood. It always made a horrendous racket like an air disaster in progress, complete with wrenching metal and rattling parts. Around the corner, we would stop at the Howdie Doodie, a convenience store that was really just a shack with a cash register in it. There we'd get a breakfast of tasty junk — cakes, colas, Now n' Laters, and pork rinds — stuff that made me the man in the dentist chair I am today. Then we steamed off out of the gravel parking lot with the bang-bang-bang of the car door yet again echoing up and down the empty highway. My dad and brother were excited. The best I could say was I endured it.

On one of these trips, we were packing up the gear for the day (quitting time was my favorite part), and for some reason I noticed my dad's tackle lying in the bottom of the boat — a fiberglass casting rod and a Shakespeare reel with star drag. Tied to the end of the line was a bright yellow plug armed with treble hooks and propellers. We boys had always used cane poles and monofilament line — not much imagination to it. I asked to try out the gear and picked it up, with my dad coaching me through the process. "Punch that button...swing the rod...release the button...aim over there."

And in that exact moment something happened. As I started to reel the lure in, for the first time in my life, I liked fishing. I stopped tolerating it or putting up with it. By the time we paddled back to the dock, I was sold on fishing, the thing I had hated. It was a secret I kept to myself at first, but I wouldn't be able to keep it for long. My thirteenth birthday was coming and the gift money I would have spent on model airplanes or books or pastels, I threw into fishing equipment.

I began to notice fishing everywhere, even when walking by the magazine rack in the grocery store. Previously only Mad magazine had caught my eye. Now I began noticing Field and Stream, and Outdoor Life. Once I requested a catalogue from a mail order outfit in Nebraska called Cabela's, thinking how cool it would be if they would one day open a bunch of really large stores. I started mowing grass to earn money for better equipment, and swapped lures with buddies like other kids swapped sports cards. In fact, I chose all my friends based on fishing. Those who weren't interested, I led into it.

I was in the zone. I had entered the fishing world with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. I woke up at crazy hours of the morning. I had run-ins with wild hogs and alligators and poisonous snakes. I learned the hard way not to drink pond water even if you were dying of thirst and had forgotten your canteen at home (I spent a weekend bent over a toilet for making that mistake). I fell out of the boat a time or two. I got stung, bitten, burned, and cut. It only made me hungry for more.

The Lord can tell me, "Now you know what all looks like. This is how I want you to be about Me."

Image Credit: Another John who loves fishing; with permission

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  |  God-Father  |  Personal-Life

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Published on 7-18-14