One Pharisee, a legal expert, tested Jesus. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
It had been years since I’d seen my friend Karen. During college, we lived together, studied together and went on adventures together. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. How could have seven or eight years passed since we’d last seen each other?
It’s not like we live on opposite ends of the country. She lives between Madison and Milwaukee. But life has a way of taking over. She and her husband are raising five kids, running a business out of their home and homeschooling some of their children. This is where their energy goes, as it should. As for me, it just becomes too easy to find other things to do. We kept in contact with Christmas cards. When her parents make an annual pilgrimage to the church I’m serving, I get an update about Karen and her brood.
Today, I met Karen and her oldest daughter in Madison for lunch. They had errands to run. I made a hospital visit. Then, the world stopped for a couple hours so we could reconnect. Sarah probably got bored with what has been going on in my life. An extremely polite teenager, she patiently sat and listened. We talked about the upcoming solo ‘n ensemble competition, her piano and violin solos. I heard antics about her siblings and Dad.
Relationships are a core value for me. Sometimes Rick chides me for investing so much energy into relationships. The problem is there are more relationships to invest than I have time. Some relationships get more attention at various times. Others get put on the back burner. We cannot treat every relationship equal. It’s simply impossible.
I believe the Great Commandment is all about relationships: our relationship with God and our neighbors. During Lent, I plan to spend extra energy on relationships. Maybe it’s time with people I haven’t seen for a while. Maybe it’s people I fail to attend to. Maybe it will be a phone call. Think of all the relationships Jesus invested time into. I am amazed. Somehow, he had this ridiculous amount of energy to focus, be present and care for those around him. Every day.
Today, compiling our tax information could wait. The undone loads of laundry sit. Piles in my office remain neglected. Thanks Karen and Sarah for lunch. I pray you were uplifted this day also.
It should not amaze us how important relationships are to you, Lord God. We forget the mysterious relationship between the three persons of the Trinity that form you as God. Bring to mind specific people we can invest in this Lent. May the opportunity to love you and our neighbor be something we embrace daily. Amen.
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