RENAMED: THE DIVINE ROMANCE
We, who are in union with Christ, are living our lives in the midst of a beautiful, eternal, love story. Our remarkable story is not just any tale, but rather, it is our own personal story with our very own Beloved Prince! By divine intent, we have been born into the romance of the ages - created and fashioned to participate in the Divine romance. This is our purpose and destiny, not only for this life, but for all eternity. This romantic relationship with our Beloved is the grandest and highest pleasure of the human heart! It is the ultimate joy that God offers humanity. Participation in the Divine romance causes all else to pale in comparison with the breathtaking adventure of being wooed and won by the greatest Romancer of all time.
As the Great Romancer, our God is in furious pursuit of a love relationship with His Bride. As incredible as it is, Our Beloved is so in love with us and so desirous of having a personal, intimate, relationship with us that His pursuit of us is relentless. His consuming passion to capture our heart and make it wholly His propels Him toward continuously pursuing a close relationship with us. Day by day, and moment by moment, our Beloved is fully and fervently engaged in drawing us deeper and deeper into the Divine romance.
Currently God is wooing His Bride, calling her - inviting her to come into greater depths of intimacy with Him. Keep in mind that His call to us comes not as an audible voice, but as an inward ache; as a deep heart longing - a longing that refuses to be stilled or quieted by anyone or anything except the Lover of our soul. This is by divine design. It is God, and not ourselves, Who creates spiritual longings within the core of our being. It is He Who initiates within us the yearning for intimacy and the desire for participation in the Divine romance. Our part, our role, in the Divine romance is to awaken to His pursuit and respond by running after Him with reckless abandon.
Throughout the Word of God, we view glimpses of a zealous God vigilantly and persistently pursuing the people whom He created. One such passage is found in Ezekiel Chapter 16 where we observe God in pursuit of a covenant Bride. Keep in mind that although this passage is referring to God's relationship with Israel, there is a parallel truth found in this passage that is applicable to Christ and His Bride. Observe the heart of God as you read the following scripture:
" And as for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor swaddled with bands at all. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you, but you were cast out in the open field, for your person was abhorrent and loathsome on the day you were born. And when I passed by you, and saw you rolling about in your blood, I said to you in your blood, Live! Yes, I said to you still in your natal blood, Live! I caused you [Israel] to multiply as the bud which grows in the field, and you increased and became tall and you came to full maidenhood and beauty; .....Now I passed by you again, and looked upon you, behold, you were maturing and at the time for love; and I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I blighted My troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord, and you became Mine. Then I washed you with water; yes, I thoroughly washed away your [clinging] blood from you, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth, and shod you with [fine seal] leather, and I girded you about with fine linen, and I covered you with silk. I decked you also with ornaments, and I put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nostril and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head! Thus you were decked with gold and silver, and your raiment was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth; and you ate fine flour and honey and oil. And you were exceedingly beautiful, and you prospered into royal estate. And your renown went forth among the nations for your beauty; for it was perfect through My majesty and splendor which I had put upon you, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 16: 4-14).
This narrative paints a graphic picture that vividly portrays God's pursuit of a Bride. As we read this riveting passage, it is as if God lifts a veil and unveils His heart. We see His tender compassion flowing to an abandoned, naked baby (Israel - who was forlorn and unwanted). In mercy, God took notice of her and commanded her to live. Subsequently, He washed her, anointed her, and then adorned her (Israel) with gorgeous apparel and costly jewels. Amazingly, once God rescued this baby and called her His Own, her lineage changed forever and her condition was drastically altered. She was no longer a forsaken, abhorrent, loathsome "nobody", but rather she became a beautiful Bride who prospered into royal estate. Talk about a rags to riches story - this is the ultimate!
I have come to see this portion of scripture in Ezekiel as one of the most outstanding passages in the Old Testament, for within it is found a beautiful portrait of the gospel of salvation. Verses 4-7 reveal God's overwhelming desire for humanity and His fervent desire for His creation to live (become spiritually alive with the life of God). As we come to verse 8, we find God is desirous of something far greater than humanity merely experiencing the initial reception of His life. We find God's pursuit of Israel (and of us as His New covenant Bride) has a glorious purpose: God wants a Bride who will enter a covenant relationship with Him and become His Own. He wants a marriage partner! This clearly reveals that salvation is about so much more than possessing something. It's about having a vital heart to heart relationship with the God of all creation. I want you to note verse 8 from The Living Bible: "Now I passed by you again, and looked upon you, behold, you were maturing and at the time for love; and I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I plighted My troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord, and you became Mine. I wrapped My cloak around you to legally declare My marriage vow. I signed a covenant with you, and you became Mine."
As we pay closer attention to this verse, we discover God passes by a second time, and as He does, He notices His chosen one has matured, and she has come to "the time for love." Bride of Christ, do you realize this is the passionate longing of God's heart; His very heartbeat. It is for this moment He is waiting - the time that His covenant Bride becomes mature in love. God wants a Lover! He is searching for a Bride who has such a deep cry for Him that nothing or no one can satisfy her - only Him. He is calling His Bride into a relationship that defies logic and lifts her into the supernatural realm of His eternal love.
I invite you to consider the following questions: "Am I at the time for love? Is my heart ready to follow hard after my Beloved with utter abandon?" Song of Solomon speaks to the issue of being ready for love with a very unusual phrase: "Stir not up, nor awaken love until it pleases" (KJV). "Don't excite love, don't stir it up, until the time is ripe and you are ready" (MSG.2:7, 3:5, 8:4). One only has to recall their own story of "puppy love" to realize the feelings we experienced passed quickly because we were young and not at the age for love. We were not ready to give our hearts away to another. In other words, "the time was not ripe". In order to arrive at the time for love, our lives went through a maturation process that took time. Out of this process, we grew up and when the time was right we were ready for love.
Concerning our spiritual lives, we need to recognize that after experiencing the new birth, we feel genuine, true love for God; in fact, our heart may well be very zealous concerning our relationship with Him. However, this is not mature love. Mature love for the Lord takes time. It can't be rushed or artificially stimulated. Full-grown love for the Lord is not about how long we have been born again; it is about growing up in Him, and gaining comprehension into the great depth of His love for us. When this happens, our hearts are awakened, and we are at the time for love. We are then ready for our journey into the Divine romance.
It's time for the Bride of Christ to wake up and embrace a personal, passionate, intimate relationship with her God. It's time for her to respond to the love of God and the deep longings He is stirring within her heart. It is time for her to truly know her God and enter into the joy and pleasure of being romanced by the Lover of her soul. King David, whom God called a man after His Own heart, repeatedly spoke of His intense desire for his God and the satisfaction he derived from coming close to God. Consider his words found in Psalms 63:1-5, 8: "O God, You are my God; earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is; so I have looked upon You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips ...My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me."
This passage echoes the desperate cry of one who longs to be drawn into the Divine romance and experience intimacy with God. Whether we are aware of it or not, the divine romance is what our hearts are aching for; what they are crying for. They long for this sacred romantic connection. God crafted us for intimate union and fellowship with Himself. Therefore, by divine intention, it is impossible to satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts with anything less than developing a love relationship with God. Only Jesus satisfies the soul; not money, not pleasure, not fame, not success, not ministry. Only when our hearts have been captivated by the Altogether Lovely One do we experience true and enduring fulfillment - a fulfillment that no other experience could ever begin match!