Monday, September 13, 2021

The Great Romance

 "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" Song of Solomon 7:6

In a romance novel the hero and heroine often have a love-hate relationship. We, the readers, sit on the edge of our seats anxiously waiting to see when the two will finally connect, profess their love for each other and live happily ever after.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

In the midst of some great tragedy, the heroine resists the aid of the hero. The man is hurt. He steps back, perhaps in anger, and the heroine falls into deeper trouble.

When she is about to give up hope, the hero swoops down and rescues her. Then the two of them battle the enemy together. Sometimes the heroine pushes the hero away again, but he keeps coming back until finally he wins her trust and her heart.

While we read, we cheer the hero on and chide the heroine for her foolishness when she rejects his help or attentions. The characters and their struggles keep us reading even though we may feel like smacking them for their stupidity. Yet, without those intense moments of conflict, the story would not bring us any pleasure and we would set down the book.

The other day, I contemplated God's good pleasure. We are created for God's pleasure.
"I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness...." I Chronicles 29:17a
"The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Psalm 147:11
"For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation." Psalm 149:4
"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities....he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:10-12

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Revelations 4:11

 The Bible has often been referred to as the greatest love story ever. God created man for His pleasure, much as a man seeks a woman for his. But sin entered the scene. The loved one rejects. Hurt ensues.

In a romance, the hero discovers he must not only win the attentions of the woman, but earn her love and trust. He cannot force her to love him, because that would not bring pleasure. Yet, he will attempt to woo her.

We, the readers, know that at the end of the story the man will get his fair lady, such is the pattern of a romance. God knew, when He created man, man would sin, and He would have to pay the greatest price to bring man back to the perfect relationship once known in the Garden of Eden. But He was willing to endure the pain, pay the price, in order to gain our love and trust.

We cannot know the mind of God. We will never fully understand all that He does, but we can trust that whatever happens to us, His ultimate goal is to restore that perfect relationship.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32
In a novel, the author places conflict that will believably turn the heart of the heroine to the hero. I think perhaps God does the same. He allows things into our lives to help us see Him, to work to turn our hearts back to Him. Despite the price we may pay when we do turn back to Him (and it is doesn't even touch the price He paid), we bring Him pleasure.

So often we see hardship as the workings of an angry and hateful God inciting unjust judgment upon us. In our society discipline has become a dirty word.

How the Lord longs for us to love Him with all our heart. How He desires for us to trust Him. Of such great importance is this to Him, He is willing to suffer watching us suffer in order to draw us to Him. Are we willing to suffer in order to know and love Him more?

Sometimes, in a romance, the heroine searches for her hero at great cost to herself. Sometimes the search is misguided or foiled by the enemy.

We, the readers, long to tell the heroine, "He's over here. Come look here." But we must watch her struggle until she finds him.

I imagine God feels the same way when He watches us struggle to gain knowledge of Him or to understand Him.

I have come to consider that the increase of trouble in my life is not the absence of God's presence, nor  necessarily the punishment of God. Rather perhaps the trouble is an opportunity to discover something new that will deepen my love and trust for God, bringing forward my relationship with Him to the point of perfection. To bring Him pleasure, not in the struggling, but in how I turn to Him through the struggle, making Him my pleasure. 

And, ultimately, I discover His presence never left me; that He was indeed before me, behind me, beside me, above me, and below me. I discover that my resting place is in Him, and I reach that resting place when I accept the molding of His Spirit in my life making me meek (a topic for another day).

"Take my yoke upon; you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:29

Fasting? Oh Lord, Help Me.

 "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the ...