“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Jesus (Mk. 12:30-31)
Earlier in my spiritual journey, during my teenage years, I can remember setting a goal for myself – thirty minutes of prayer every day. Thirty minutes seemed like a nice, round number. It was the length of an episode of Saved by the Bell. It seemed quite attainable.
For the first few days, I figured things were going pretty well. I was enjoying my time of prayer each day, and I was especially satisfied by the realization that I had made a goal and was sticking to it.
However, after a few days, I recognized a strange dynamic at play. I came to grips with the awareness that my motivation wasn’t so much about making meaningful connection with God, as much as it was about feeling the gratification of achieving my measurable goal.
A little over a week ago, Carrie and I were out of town for a few days. We were looking for a few things to do. A friend of mine had given me a strong recommendation for the movie, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” starring James Faulkner and Jim Caviezel.
I have to confess, I am usually not an enthusiastic fan of “Christian movies” for a variety of reasons. Not to sound cynical, but it’s difficult for me to bear with the usually poor artistic elements. Generally, the acting and the writing are substandard, and the delivery of the message is pretty formulaic and uncreative.
Nevertheless, because this was a biopic of Paul, and because we trusted my friend’s recommendation, we decided to give it a shot.
Somehow I managed to live the first 35 years of my life having never heard of the sweet nectar of heaven that is the muscadine grape. Several months ago, a couple in our church invited my wife (Carrie) and me over to their house for dinner. Soon after we arrived, the husband invited me to taste some grapes from the vine in their backyard.
I had eaten grapes plenty of times throughout my life. The ordinary kind in the produce section of a typical grocery store. But I had never tasted a muscadine before. I’m not sure I had ever even heard the word.
That August evening in that backyard when I squeezed the juice of that first grape into my mouth, my life was changed forever. I’m pretty sure I actually said it out loud: “Where have you been all my life?”