There is a story from the Middle Ages about a woman who had a vision. In her vision she holds a pitcher of water in one hand and a torch in the other. With the water she extinguished all the fires of hell. With the torch she burned away all of the pleasures of heaven that await us. Because of this, the only remaining factor was God alone. Sometimes it is good to remind myself why I pursue God at all. Why do I desire God at all? Are they selfish reasons? Do I desire God because being closer to God will bring ME blessings? Because it brings ME eternal life? Because it will bring ME honor and healing? Loving God for the sake of the transaction?
Do I begin all of my prayer with my needs, wants, and wishlists? Is that why I come to God in prayer?
An older rabbi once said, "I don't want your paradise. I do not want your coming world. I want you, and you only."
If I only loved my wife as long as she did everything I wanted her to, people would question whether I loved Tonya at all. If I only loved her because she does all the right things I need and want, you would rightfully challenge me to be far less selfish in order to actually claim that I LOVE her.
I wonder why that would be ridiculous if I "loved" Tonya like that, but its not so outrageous that I "love" my Abba like that.