I love God’s timing. When I wrote a post comparing God’s love to a mother’s love, it was near Mother’s Day–I only had to switch one post for it to fall near that day. By the time I had finished posting three posts about God’s father love, it was pretty close to Father’s Day (as it still is). I didn’t write the posts in response to the special days but instead in response to what I felt God was calling me to write. I do hope God used the timing and writing to drive home His points. Now, I’m to my last post in this series about God’s love (beginning with His artist’s love), and I’m finishing with the one I find to be the most intimate, which is the metaphor that God loves us like a husband loves his wife. And, of course, it has fallen less than a week after my anniversary with my own husband. As I write, I’m wearing for the first time the beautiful Noonday Collection water buffalo horn necklace and earrings Greg gave me as an anniversary present (this year’s traditional gift was ivory, and neither of us wanted to support the killing of elephants for their tusks, so I thought ethically harvested ivory-colored horn jewelry was close enough).
Greg and I have been married fourteen years, and even though my face has taken on lines it didn’t have when he first fell in love with me, the first (gasp!) white hairs are starting to appear around my temples, and my body’s a bit worse for wear after three babies, the man still undeniably loves me. Even physical descriptions aside, I have not been the perfect wife. I can list off a litany of my own faults and ways I’ve let him down over the years. Yet, he really does still love me! I could say the same about my feelings for him, but it doesn’t mean as much since he’s been closer to perfect than I have been–he really is a good man. He continues to value my opinions, put my needs before his own, sacrifice for me, and lavish me with grace. His grace surprises me over and over because I don’t have that kind of grace for myself.
I’m getting ready to head out on a girls’ trip to Savannah with my mom and Little E. I’m very much looking forward to it, but whenever I go on a trip, I always have so much more to do and the pressure of getting it all done turns into stress in me. I respond to this stress by snapping at the people I love, my family. Greg, the one allowing me to go on this trip by taking care of our boys by himself for four and a half days, asked me a simple question last night, and like a wounded animal, I lashed out at him. Wisely, he backed away. Later that evening, I lamely apologized, and his response was, as usual, grace: “Going on big trips stresses you out.”
If a mortal man like Greg can love me through my ugliness, how much more can our God love us? Isaiah writes in Isaiah 62:5b: “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.” Even when you do wrong, He still loves you wholeheartedly. In Ezekiel 6:9 we read, “then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.” God’s heart is broken when we are unfaithful to Him, but it doesn’t make Him bitter against us or put a stop to His love for us.
In the remarkable book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute, knowing she will be unfaithful to him and go back to her line of work, just to demonstrate His great love for us (Hosea 1:2). Hosea marries the prostitute Gomer, and they have three children together, but then she betrays him by going after other men. God shows his anger and apparent hurt at how the Israelites acted like Gomer. He promises punishment and justice for their blatant sin, but just one chapter later tells Hosea to remarry Gomer, saying, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1). Despite the fact that He must punish them for their wrongdoing and despite the fact that they were false to Him, despite even the fact that He’s angry with them with a righteous anger, He still loves them. He says in Hosea 11:8-9, ““How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you.”
God loved us so much despite our sin that He gave His only Son to die for us (John 3:16). We deserve His anger, His punishment, His utter abandonment of us, but He died in our place, seeking intimacy with us instead. Song of Songs 6:3 speaks prophetically about the relationship Christ longs to have with us, with us saying, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” May we long for closeness with Him the way He longs for it with us!