Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14
Somewhere, there’s a love so fathomless, even oceans fall shallow of it. This love is so vast that galaxies can’t contain it. It’s a love so sublime, only the human soul could be made for it.
I write about this kind of love today because it has recently flooded the hollow parts of my heart. So the words must flow. It’s a safe bet to say that at any given moment, some part of me is looking for this mysterious love. But often, I’m looking in a million wrong places. Maybe you have been too.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve collected a handful of familiar haunts to visit when I want this love. The approval of someone I respect is a popular spot. When that’s too far away, I can always camp out in a compliment, fantasies of the future, or even my shameless library of 90’s rom-coms.
The only thing about these “familiar haunts” is that they’re just that: they’re haunting. None of the “love” I find in these places lingers. Sometimes it hollows me out even more than before. I have a suspicion that I’m not the only one who’s been here. I’m not the only one who craves a love so seemingly elusive that nothing seems big enough to satisfy it.
Here’s the story.
It was day 4 of my last backpacking trip. Normally, intentional time in the mountains floods me with peace, insight, and connection with God. But even though I was surrounded by the majesty of dozens of lakes, peaks, wildflowers, and trees, my heart felt stiffer than my boots. God where are you?
I rounded a bend in the trail, and immediately a breeze as soft as silk greeted me. I wasn’t cold, but my skin got goosebumps. Paper-thin columbines and mountain daisies lined the path. Then something spoke.
Beloved, let me love you.
The breeze continued and the tension in my shoulders smoothed out. Daughter, let me love you. In a moment, the harsh, fresh beauty of the Beartooth mountains gained a whole new wonder to me. It was like walking through a fairyland, weightless, breathless, eager. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women. The spirit that lives inside of me spoke again.
Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women. (Song of Solomon 2:2)
The voice continued. My bride, my banner over you is love.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)
The moment lingered shortly. My body soft, my mind mesmerized, there was no doubt that I had just spent a moment in the presence of the Almighty. He wanted to love me. Not in the way I had expected, but in a deeply and divinely romantic way. He used the breeze, the flowers, and a still, small whisper to tell me so.
It wasn’t until two days later that I actually started to understand the encounter. The same spirit who sang over me on trail brought me to Psalm 45. There, I found an image to help me understand:
All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her— those brought to be with her. Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king. (Psalm 45:13-15)
This ancient piece of scripture describes a beautiful wedding ceremony, and it ultimately foreshadows the union of Jesus with his beloved bride, the church. The language of this psalm is glittering with excitement, anticipation, and gladness. No words can fully describe the king’s delight for his bride. Anyone would give anything to be as eagerly awaited as this bride was!
As I read this psalm three times over, I felt a flood of understanding fill the hollow of my heart. Somehow over the past few months, I had wandered the valley of life wearing the wrong identity. I wore the rags of my past life, the shame and unworthiness that were mine before this great High King pursued me for his bride. All along, I should have put on the “gown interwoven with gold” and “embroidered garments” that this loving King had already given me.
Friend, this story isn’t meant to be a “how-to” or a “step-by-step.” Rather, I share it as a reminder of the identity you already have, or the identity Jesus wants to give you today, if you accept him as your king.
You and I were born in the valley. We had nothing but dust on our hands and sweat on our brow. But Jesus came down to the valley to put love in our hands and a crown on our brow. Of course we never deserved it. We never deserved his love. But what a silly thing to put on every morning, the shame of who we once were, when we could instead humbly accept his hand and joyfully delight in it!
I think there’s a reason we all enjoy a good fairytale. It’s because we know there’s a love out there so powerful that we can’t help but crave it. We hunger for it because the God who crafted our hearts intends to satisfy us with it.
Beloved, let me love you.
Maybe it sounds too simple. “Just let him love you.” But maybe simple is what we need.
It could be that you have never before surrendered to divine love. Let today be the day! Or maybe you have surrendered, but you have dressed yourself in the wrong identity. May today be the day that you shed the layers of pride and shame, and humbly put on the robe of Jesus’s love for you. This is how we let him love us. Be still, and worship him. There is freedom to be found in the intimacy of worship. Be his bride. Wear your new identity.
His love should make you giddy. His love should send you butterflies! His love should calm and quiet your soul, make you feel safer than you ever thought possible. It’s because his love is the love.
He delights in you.
Let Him love you.
Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. (Psalm 45: 10-11)