At my grand-daughter’s violin recital, along with the many small children eeking out squeaky notes, there was a 14 year old young woman on the program. Her form and tone were impeccable, remarkable. However, what struck me was not her technique, but the passion with which she played. Closing her eyes, her body swayed, her bow flew, and she was at one with the captivating ebbs and flows of the composition. What drew me into her world? What caused me to forget everything else, and to join her – letting her take me with her, into heights and depths of emotion, as if she was an eagle and I was her rider?
It was passion. The intensity, concentration, and artistry of the young violinist forbade neutrality. It demanded a response. What images, what associations, does the word “passion” elicit in you? Fire? Sexual excitement? Complete dedication? Energy unleashed? A totality of heart? The youthful musician was playing the violin passionately, with all her heart.
“You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Yeshua called this the greatest of God’s commandments. I am intrigued by the concept of doing anything with “all my heart.” What does that entail? What does it demand of me? How am I to know that I am fully engaged, fully given over to what I am doing—or how I am being?
Clearly, “with all your heart” includes being focused. Also, it involves more than my feelings. My mind is operating in synchronisation, in unity with my emotions. My body is either poised or actively involved in the same direction.
The Book of Deuteronomy alone contains eight more uses of the phrase “with all your heart.” God tells Israel:
- to serve the Lord with all our heart,
- to obey Him with all of our heart,
- to seek Him with all our heart, and
- to turn to the Lord with all our heart.
This doesn’t leave much room for tepid religion, does it? In fact, the phrase “with all your heart” occurs 285 times in the Bible. Rebuking the congregation in Laodicea, Yeshua calls for hearts on fire. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-27). Strong words that leave no doubt about the Divine recipe for life. Live it to the full. Be totally involved. In the end there are no rewards for spectators.
Tragically, the 21st century has specialized in this: watching others, mesmerized by the images and sounds emanating from screens and earphones. The proliferation of digital devices and social media puts a premium on video production. Can you watch the latest YouTube comedy with all your heart? I’m certainly not opposed to the education, information, or inspiration that can be gathered via the web. I am however urging you, dear ones, to order your days according to that which grips your heart, in concert with the heart of God. Then you will be fully alive, and you may even inspire others to live fully, as well.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 4, 2020, and reposted with permission.