A man, if he is a good man, does not say the words “I love you” flippantly, or hastily. A good man is well thought, and engaged in his communication of this phrase. “I love you” is meant to take everything in a man that he can offer. It is not said without some level of pain being issued. You can love something so much it hurts… You can long for something so much that it aches… Call it a good pain, but it may not feel so at the time. When I tell my wife or my kids that I love them, at least in my best moments, there is some level of pain in saying it. It is a pain that I welcome. The pain is in there because there is this intangible, unreachable level at which we wish to express this love more than just saying “I love you”… We’ll never reach it. Not this side of heaven. But we dare not hold back from the endeavor. We step forward, we understand what we are saying with our minds, we realize who we are saying it to, we engage every ounce of our energies and emotions in communicating the phrase… It is not a business for the self-interested, self-involved, or self-focused… It is the business of the self-sacrificing…
As we gather together to sing, pray, and worship at our local gatherings on a Sunday by Sunday basis… is this not the goal? That “I love you” would be said in such a way?
I lead worship quite often and I’m privy to the expressionless faces of a multitude on many occasions. Granted it’s Sunday morning and everyone just woke up, crawled out of bed, got our crazy kids all together, fed, cleaned up, etc… or maybe we’re recovering from our Saturday night party binge… whatever the reason is… We show up and say “I love you” with mouths closed and arms crossed. We are far too easily pleased with our desires here to want to experience the ache of a love relationship with our Savior… As C.S. Lewis says in his book The Weight Of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We are all guilty. But what will we do about it? Will we continue to say “I love you” to the great Lover of our souls without actually meaning it? What if we don’t love him? Maybe we should start asking this question. If we don’t love Him… if we do not desire to be near Him… if we do not ache to be with Him… what can we do?
Start loving Him… Pray that He would give you the gift of loving Him more. One way I look at it is by asking myself, “What father, if asked by his children to make them love him more, would not grant that request if it was in his power to do so?”… Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
I believe the Father will grant your desire to love Him more. It may take a while, but as you move intentionally in that direction you will begin to see it happen. Then you will begin to experience the pain of saying “I love you”. The ache of the shear inadequacy of the words we utter in an attempt to capture all encompassing love, of which the word “love” is completely inadequate.
A man, if he is a good man, says “I love you” when he understands exactly what he is saying with his mind, when he realizes who it is that he is saying it to, and when he engages his emotions and energies in communicating the phrase.