Have you ever been in love? When you look into the eyes of the one you love, you realize your priorities have changed. Time, cost, distance and sacrifice have a way of paling when you look at your beloved. Love has a way of taking you further than you want to go, making you offer more than you would naturally give, and prompting you to sacrifice the most precious things you have for the sake of another. It’s both powerful and beautiful. And it was intended to be that way before the beginning of time.
The Christian life is designed to be a love affair of the heart. It’s a passionate, life-giving relationship that makes the things of the world appear dull in comparison. Song of Solomon 8:7 tells us, “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.”
When Solomon describes love as “unquenchable,” he’s not only speaking of God’s love for you; he’s also referring to the love you can have for Him. It’s more than an invitation. It’s something that He has instilled in the heart of every human being. Call it what you may—a vacuum, hole, pocket, or void—but there exists in everyone a place that longs for fulfillment and pleasure. It’s a universal human experience. And it’s placed in each of you by God, for God.
Consider the Garden of Eden. Can you imagine the intoxicating fragrance of God that Adam and Eve experienced as they walked with Him and enjoyed the beauty of a newly made world? Can you sense the invigorating fulfillment and pleasure in God that they experienced before there was sin? Can you picture the love and passion among the three of them? This was what Adam and Eve were created for: perfect relationship with the Father. They not only felt His presence; they walked in His presence. They experienced Him.
God has placed in everyone a deep hunger, desire, and longing for divine fulfillment. We haven’t always understood what this was, so we have tried to satisfy the inner craving in a thousand different ways, many of them good. Yet the fact remains that there is only One who can ultimately satisfy the deep longings of our hearts.
The great philosopher and Christian Blaise Pascal made this observation: “There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say only by God Himself.”1
Eden is behind you. The New Jerusalem is before you. But until it arrives, you are left longing for it. The ache deep inside your being is a blessing. It invites you to something greater than you could ever fathom: the lifelong pursuit of knowing and enjoying God.
[The Drawing of God’s Heart]
Not only do we long to experience uninhibited communion with God, but He also desires our fellowship and wants us to embrace the revelation of His love and passion for us.
You may not realize it, but the Father is ravished by you. You make Him smile. You make Him laugh. You make Him leap for joy. You make His heart beat faster. In Zephaniah 3:17, the Bible even says you make Him sing for joy. Whether you understand that or not doesn’t stop God from responding to you in that way. He looks at you and grins. He sees your hair, your skin, your smile, and He rejoices.
The blemishes, scars, and extra pounds may weigh on your heart, but they don’t weigh on His. God loves your freckles. He loves your funky-shaped toes. He loves you—just as you are. He loves your uniqueness. He loves the smile that only your face can radiate. He loves you when you’re awake, vibrant, and full of life. And He loves you when you’re down, struggling, and lethargic.
He even loves you when you’re sleeping. He gets excited when you wake up—even with morning breath and “sleep” tucked in the corners of your eyes. He can’t wait to hear your voice. He looks forward to your first thoughts. He loves accompanying you throughout the day. He enjoys being with you at work. He isn’t watching the clock or tapping His toe until five o’clock. Just being with you is enough. He loves talking with you, traveling with you, and being tender with you. He loves watching you enjoy His creation. He smiles when you look at the mountains, sea, or sky and think of Him.
The truth is, God really likes you. In fact, He enjoys you. You may not think you measure up to supermodel or Mr. GQ status, but He does. Thanks to the gracious act of His Son, He sees you perfectly redeemed. He isn’t tolerating you. He isn’t putting up with you. He isn’t waiting for you to get older or more mature in your Christian walk before He can love or enjoy you. He loves you right where you are. Through the blood of Jesus, you’re perfectly redeemed.
That means that if you’re a tennis player, then you’ve served an ace. If you’re a baseball player, you’ve hit a home run. If you’re a golfer, you’ve shot a hole in one. Do you get the point? This is what He sees. He’s not keeping a record of your mistakes or the times you blew it. His blood takes care of those things. All He sees is you—and He enjoys you. Forever you will make Him ecstatic.
[The Initiator of Love]
God is the original initiator of love. Before you ever began seeking Him, He was pursuing you. Even while you were still just a bundle of joy in your mother’s womb, God was shaping and crafting you to be His own. As you popped out into the world—when you could do nothing more than let out a cry—He began pursuing a relationship with you. The concept of God as the seeker of His people is made clear throughout Scripture.
For example, in Genesis 15:1, God came to a man by the name of Abram and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” In verse 5, He promises Abram, “‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them … So shall your offspring be.’”
The initiator of love was at it again. He was taking the initiative to woo a man, as well as an entire people, to Himself. Notice that it was God who came to Abram. He revealed Himself to Jacob and apprehended Saul. The names of these men were even changed as a result of God’s hot pursuit of them.
If you study the Scriptures in this light, you’ll discover He used almost anything and everything—men, women, babes, prophets, even donkeys—to reveal Himself to people. God also seemed to use any place—a mobile tent, an upper room, a well, a pool, a pile of rocks—as a place to manifest His glory. He is not afraid to invade everyday life to reveal Himself in His pursuit of man.
Ezekiel 16:1-14 describes God’s passion for those whom He has chosen. His individual touch, care, and passion for their redemption is evident. This is a rather long passage, but please take the time to absorb its meaning:
“Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.”
“Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, ‘Live!’ I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.
“Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
“I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Look at all that the Lord does for those whom He chooses, even while they are still in their sin. Even while they are lost and helpless, He pours countless vials of love over them. He redeems, adopts, loves, protects, and raises those who are His.
The Lord even uses romantic language to describe His actions. Both the words and tender embrace have a way of touching the human heart like nothing else. He not only feeds you—both spiritually and physically—but the passage reveals that He also adorns you with choice jewels and clothes you with fine garments. As Jacob bestowed a coat of many colors on his favorite son, God clothes you with His very best and makes you beautiful.
He removes your unbecoming attributes and replaces them with the fruit of a life lived in Him—a life full of joy, peace, love, kindness, and all the fruit of His nature. Thus you begin to reflect your Creator. The amazing thing is that He does all of this free of charge. He doesn’t demand penance or religious duty. He simply invites you to be in relationship with Him. His awesome invitation echoes in the innermost parts of your being.
In Psalm 42:7 we read, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (KJV). While some other translations use the word “waterfall” instead of “waterspout,” I believe “waterspout” draws a more accurate picture. Have you ever seen one? Being raised in the Midwest, I had never seen one until a few years ago. Naively, I thought I had a pulse on what the psalmist was saying in this verse. But God surprised me.
A pastor friend from Louisiana invited me down to speak in several churches. While I was there, my friend planned a fishing trip. One night, my wife and I returned from a service after midnight, and at 2:30 a.m. my friend woke me to go fishing. I really didn’t want to go, but I wanted to spend time with him. We packed the gear and arrived at the shores of the Gulf of Mexico at about five in the morning. The weather was lousy, and the fishing was worse. I didn’t want to be there. I was tired. It was storming. All I wanted to do was climb back into a warm, dry bed. But God chose to surprise me.
As I looked out over the water, I noticed an enormous funnel cloud moving in our direction. Based on my background, I thought it was a tornado, but my friend corrected me and told me it was a waterspout. As the words left his mouth, my heart leaped. I thought, “This is awesome!” And I watched it in the distance.
In the midst of those stormy, early morning hours, I had an opportunity to actually see what the psalmist was talking about, and I learned a few lessons. Waterspouts are basically tornadoes over water, usually occurring over larger bodies of water. They defy gravity. At the ocean’s surface, winds gain speed—sometimes close to two hundred miles per hour—swirl into a vortex, and then move upward. In the Florida Keys, where waterspouts occur more frequently than anywhere else in the world, the clouds that spawn the spouts are between eighteen thousand and twenty-two thousand feet high.2
Look at the words of Psalm 42:7 again: “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” Now picture a hand reaching down twenty-two thousand feet to touch something inside of you. God is continually calling to that deep place within the human heart as He seeks to manifest Himself to those He loves. There is a place within you—a deep place—that only God can touch. It’s in that place that God’s echoing invitation emerges and penetrates your spirit. It’s the invitation not only to pursue Him but also to enjoy Him. This call comes out of an even deeper place, a deeper longing, in the heart of God. As much as you may want Him, He wants you more.
[The Pursuer of the Human Heart]
Some people define religion as man’s search for God. However, the Bible speaks of God’s search for man. The mystery of it all is that God pursues man. When Adam and Eve hid from His presence (Gen. 3:9), the Lord called: “Where are you?”
It’s a call that goes out again and again. You’ve heard it. It’s the echo of a still, small voice that is uniquely mysterious. It transcends words, yet continually draws the human spirit.
Recently, a number of books have been written about people chasing after God, and there certainly is an important place in the Christian experience for pursuing the Lord. But as you look at Scripture, you discover that God is always the first to initiate love. It’s your role to respond.
Any passion you have in your heart for Him right now, He put there. It takes God to love God. It takes God to pursue God. You didn’t just wake up one morning thinking, “Oh, this is a great day to get saved. I think I’ll accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and then head to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin.”
The Lover of your heart was pursuing you even when you didn’t realize it. He was working behind the scenes, proactive in the circumstances of your life, bringing you to a place where through His grace you could experience Him.[Excerpted from Enjoying God, copyright 2002 Relevant Media Group]