Monday, May 13, 2013

The Greatest Romance

In the beginning he knew the cost. She would turn away from him, she would hurt him. But he loved her from the moment she was born. He knew everything about her, and he wanted her, more than anything, to be free. To experience the ability to make her own choices, to even reject him if she desired.

She is the bride, and was made perfectly for him, as he was perfect for her. He gave her a world, sunrise and sunset, beauty and even beautiful sorrow, for there was comfort for every tear.
From the beginning of time, he knew she would betray him. He loved her anyway. He knew she would run from him, and he still loved her. She was beautiful and wonderful and he would not simply turn away for another. She was his one true love, his only love and there never, ever could be another.

He pursued her when she first left. He already had a plan to make everything right, to repair the damage that had been done. He was willing to die for her. And that is exactly what he would do.
The greatest romance ever, the story I am telling, is the story of God and us. He is the author of romance and love. He knows the purest, sweetest love, for he is that love. Whenever we feel a pure, true love for another, we are in touch with the divine.

God gave us a free will, because he wanted us to be free, not robots. He wanted a bride, not a slave. He wanted love. He poured it out for us in his blood as he died for us.

He made us male and female, as a living representation of his love for us as a whole. If you have desired to love someone, hold them, care for them, even die for them - then you have felt a small touch of God's love for you, and you understand the true love of God. God wants to hold you in the arms of his Spirit, to care for your needs, and he has died for you.

His love is so amazing that he even died for those who hated him, who spit on him and beat him. Even more amazing is his grace and forgiveness toward those same people afterwards. If you want love, think of the love of God. That is the love he has for us, and he is so good he has enabled us to even love others as he has loved us.

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them. - John 17:26

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35 

There are so many verses that speak of love, I cannot recount them all. Yet we see that not only does God love us with a perfect love, he has given us the ability to love as he has loved us! Is this not a beautiful thing? Jesus prayed that we would be one, that he would be in us. Have you ever felt a desire to be so close to someone that you wanted to just be inside their heart and nestle comfortably there? That too, is a desire from God. He wants us to do that same thing, to make a home in his loving heart. It bursts with love for us.

The Song of Solomon speaks of the lover and the beloved, and it is a beautiful and perfect representation of love between God and us, as well as a man and woman.

"How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!"

"Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame. 

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away."

Where else should we look for God but within love itself? Is he not the author of all good things? He wants to be one with us in the spirit, as we can be one in the flesh between a man and woman. This is the mystery Paul speaks of in Ephesians. Being one in spirit with God, one in flesh with our mate. They are both the greatest romance ever, and a portrayal of unconditional love and union.

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."" --- Revelation 21:9
We, the beloved of God, are the bride of Christ. God's love is true love. When we pursue someone we love, remember how God pursued us. When we give our love flowers, remember all the beautiful flowers God made for us. When we forgive our beloved, we show how God forgave us. When we cradle our beloved in our arms, we show how God will hold us close to him for eternity and never let us go. When we sacrifice for our beloved, remember his ultimate sacrifice for us.
He wants to be so close to us that we would be called "one." A saint of the Catholic church wrote about this oneness with God. St. John of the Cross penned "The Dark Night of the Soul" (originally in Spanish.) It reads like a romance poem, and it is - one about God.

Upon a darkened night
The flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest 

Shrouded by the night
And by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
While all within lay quiet as the dead
Oh night thou was my guide
Oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved one
Transforming each of them into the other 

Upon that misty night
In secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
Than that which burned so deeply in my heart
That fire 'twas led me on
And shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
It was a place where no one else could come 

Oh night thou was my guide
Oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved one
Transforming each of them into the other 

Within my pounding heart
Which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
Beneath the cedars all my love I gave
From o'er the fortress walls
The wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
Caressed my every sense it would allow 

Oh night thou was my guide
Oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved one
Transforming each of them into the other 

I lost myself to him
And laid my face upon my lover's breast
And care and grief grew dim
As in the morning's mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair… 

We can find rest and peace in the love of God. The Bible tells us, "perfect love casts out fear." God knows love, God is love, and God tells us what real love is.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - I Cor 13:4-8
Love never fails… this is the greatest romance ever. The love that never fails, and never ends. The love that always forgives. The love that longs and burns and never dies. The love that seeks to know every part of us and treasure it, to become one. The love that died for us.

[1] Ephesians 5:31-32 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.
[2] Loreena McKennit English translation

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