My wife and I only dated for about a month before we got engaged. After we had been engaged for two months or so, I had to leave town for a week to go on tour with the university's Concert Choir. That week was the first time we had gone even an entire day apart since we started dating. Even though we talked on the phone for a while each night, we were dying to see each other by the week's end. The tour bus pulled back onto campus early Sunday evening and, even though we both had classes early the next morning, we ended up spending nearly the whole night walking, talking and holding hands. Neither of us cared that we had classes the next day or that we would be extremely tired before the afternoon rolled around. We were in love, we hadn't seen each other, and we weren't going to let practical concerns get in the way.
Yesterday we saw how God overlooked technicalities of purification rules because the people were seeking God with their whole hearts. If you keep reading that passage, you discover how the people responded to God's grace in their lives. The people of Judah and the former territories of Israel had travelled to Jerusalem to observe the Passover feast with King Hezekiah, leaving behind their farms and businesses. The Passover feast was seven days long. People had prepared for a seven day celebration and the travel time involved and, you would think, they were ready to be heading home at the end of the seven day religious festival. But their joy at celebrating in the Lord's presence and their exuberance at God's mercy changed things. "The whole congregation decided to observe seven more days, so they observed seven days with joy" (2 Chronicles 30:23, NIV). The people so thoroughly enjoyed being in God's presence with his people that the practical concerns of travelling at the right time, getting back to their businesses, lands and families, simply did not seem all that important. These people, having already worshiped for a week, chose to stay and worship for another week!
And yet we watch our clocks to make sure the preacher doesn't go longer than his appointed time on Sunday mornings. We hesitate at the idea of going to a Bible Study in the middle of the week. We cringe at the thought of serving a neighbor in need because we have other things we need to get done. We excuse ourselves from helping someone whose car has broken down because we have a schedule to keep. These are just some of the ways that we can tell that our love for God has waned. When you're in love, you want to be with the person you love, you want to serve them, you want to spend every waking moment in their presence, regardless of practical concerns. But when was the last time we felt that way about pleasing God and being in God's presence?
When people's love for each other wanes, both people are typically at fault to some degree. But in our relationships with God, God's attention and his desire for us have not changed. So instead of dreading or minimizing the time we spend with God, maybe we should do those things we used to do and re-cultivate our love for God.
When was the last time you were so caught up in God that you didn't care about where else you had to be or what else you had to do? If it's been a while, maybe it's time to re-cultivate your love for God. God's love for you hasn't changed.