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Dear Friend, What if I could tell you the dynamic that will make your life work – one that has been tested and proven – one that can be described in less than thirty words? Would you be interested? A lot of people wouldn’t be, you know. For a long time, without even knowing it, I wasn’t. For a number of years as a young man I went on a search to see if I could determine the most important thing for a human being to do on this earth. I went to school, studied read. I talked with the wisest and most respected people I could find. I travelled through more than sixty nations looking for it. I was looking for something I felt was missing in my own life and experience. My life was too much like patchwork – a lot of interesting thoughts, exciting activities, heavy responsibilities, meaningful relationships satisfying work. And yet, I was fragmented, pulled in too many directions. The end result was that I never had enough time. Or energy. Or motivation. No matter what I found, always proved to be

too little to capture me fully. I kept feeling I had more to give. That I had never been fully challenged. That with the right breakthrough I could become the person I felt I was meant to be. People told me I was being naive, that I’d have to end up settling for less. Somehow, though, I kept struggling for an answer that I sensed might be very near. You see, I was looking for something that would be so compelling that I could pursue it in spite of any circumstance that might come my way. In spite of any weakness already in me or anything that could happen to me. Something I could do every day for as long as I lived on the earth. Something I could pass along to the people I loved the most. Well, eventually I found what I was searching for. Now that I’m about to share it with you, I have one great fear. I fear you will write me of as being too simplistic. I believe that would be fatal. Another fear I have is that when you hear about it you will pass it off as something you’ve heard all your life. You may even think you are making use of it already. That, too, I believe, would be fatal. The nature of what I want us to look at demands that you be engaged by it…. deeply……as if you’re seeing it for the first time

in your whole life. Only then can its pervasive and compelling power begin to work its wonder in your life. Here then are the all –too-familiar words that can lead you to your greatest happiness in life: You shall love the Lord your God With all your heart, And with all your soul, And with all your mind, And with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Are you able to read these words as if for the first time? Remember, first of all, where these words came from. Jesus called these words the greatest commandment. It helps me to think of it as the Great Priority of human life. The Great Priority will keep your life on the truest track you can ever follow. You will have fewer distractions, fewer detours. This means you will have greater energy with which to live, with which to do what you are supposed to do. And when you die, no matter when it comes, you will not die without having done your work ‌.. without having finished your work.

Furthermore, in this Great Priority is found the “quick-ening” power of human life. “To quicken” means “to make alive.” This Great Priority can bring you to life like nothing else. The reason, you see, is that to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength is to focus your life on something greater than who you are, something that will continue to open you up to higher levels of greatness within yourself. It provides your life with the much needed point of concentration. You can stand on tiptoes and stretch toward this every day. And remember, most importantly, that love is at the center of life. Love is the creative power. Love makes you feel alive, keeps you feeling alive. You are tapping into the power that moves the sun and the stars. But, are you sure you know how to love God? Here is the secret: It’s found in the words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This makes it concrete. No idle staring into sunsets and sentimental drifting off into dreamy-eyed space. No, loving God means looking into the faces of those closest to you as well as into the faces of strangers and seeing there the human face of God. To love them is to love God. You can see how this brings your religion more directly into the midst of everyday life. Nothing calls for more courage with you than loving your neighbor as yourself.

In a central way this is what all my letters are about. It is what they will continue to be about. It must be that way because the Great Priority was what Jesus’ life was all about. His life is what a life looks like when a person takes the Great Priority seriously. So in a real sense the rest of the Bible is a commentary on this Great Priority. This gives you an important handle for making your reading of the Bible count for even more. Before I close, let me just touch lightly on one further critical element in all of this. And that’s you. How about it? Do you feel loved? More to the point, do you love yourself? Hmmm. Are you comfortable with this thought? Well, for now I’ll have to leave you with it. More later. Your friend, Landon Saunders

#1 Letter HOF  

letter, Jan. 17,

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