Today marks the beginning of a journey of prayer seeking to understand, perhaps only in some small way, the desire that God has for those he created in his image. Desire. It’s such a complicated word. It seems, all at once, a dark and provocative word, yet it seems that it is at the root of why God did pretty much everything he did.
Have you ever felt God’s desire for you? Have you ever felt pursued by him? If you were to look closely at the “why” of God’s actions, why was he so possessive? Why did he get so angry, so jealous? What made him so merciful? Why did he endure so much pain on our behalf? Desire. When I began to feel desired by God, I went through a period of feeling like his love for me was so intense that it could literally kill me if he were to pour it out on me without constraint. He desires me. I am his beloved. What if it’s true? It changes everything, doesn’t it? It makes it personal, and you can’t escape it.
Why are we so unaware of, or worse, resistant to, his consuming love for us?
It seems we want his love for us to be proper, sterile, distant, orderly and only at our beckoning. I don’t think that’s the way it works. He’s nuts. And his way of loving is passionate, intense, romantic, intimate and constant. It’s a raging furnace of red-hot furious love. The lovesick heart of God is best demonstrated in Song of Songs when we begin to put ourselves in the place of the Shulamite woman and God in the place of the Beloved. I can imagine his words to us…
You have captured my heart,
my treasure, my bride.
You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes,
with a single jewel of your necklace.
Your love delights me,
my treasure, my bride.
Your love is better than wine,
your perfume more fragrant than spices.
Do you realize that all throughout the Bible, God refers to his people as his bride? In the Old Testament, God the Father appeals to his bride, Israel, with intense emotion. Later in the New Testament, God the Son is portrayed as a bridegroom, and his bride is the church. That’s us! So why would it be a stretch at all for us, the bride of Jesus, to think that maybe, just maybe, he gets butterflies in his stomach when he hears our name? Why would it seem crazy that he can’t stop thinking about us without smiling?
And why would it seem strange to us that he would gladly die for us to purchase our freedom?
“Father, we need your help to understand your true desires for us. We have created an image of you in our minds and in our church which is safe, mild, and predictable. Your love is anything but that, and we long to allow you to pour out your love on us in any way you choose. Please teach us to receive your love for us. Change us by it. Don’t hold back your passion for us. Guide us to the very center of your heart in these 40 days ahead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”