During a recent conversation with friends, I began to realize how we had fallen into the habit of referring to God in vague and impersonal terms. The observation bothered me greatly.
I’ve always found that returning to Song of Solomon sets me back on the right path in maintaining a more intimate view of our Father, so I set out to do exactly that. I opened a Bible and read, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.”
I wonder, do we think of God’s love in these terms? Not as the all-encompassing, unconditional, agape love of God, but as a love as strong as death that burns like a mighty flame? A love that is jealous? A love that rivers can’t quench?
All too often, we fall into the trap of seeing God as an old, bearded grandfatherly- type figure sitting on a golden throne in heaven and looking down on us as we might look dotingly down on a puppy. Jesus however, described God as a lovesick Father waiting at the window in anticipation of his child returning home. Then seeing the returning son, God runs out to receive him with open arms and a heart bursting with joy.
The Bible gives us many images of God, but none of them are austere. Rather, God is shown as a passionate lover, a loving heartbroken Father, an artist, a creator and a poet. But is this how we see Him? Do we view God as passionate? Does God really get excited and rejoice in the salvation of His children? Can we think of God as our Father, our lover? Do we mentally accept the Genesis account of God as Creator but fail to see Him as being creative? Does the prospect that God really feels—truly loves, actually hurts—give us the jitters?
If we look at the wonder of creation all around us, how can we refuse to see the passionate artistry in that creation? Go out tonight and look up. Take in the beauty of the moon, the majesty of the stars and the romantic feel of the night air that inspired old Will Shakespeare to write such wonderful plays as A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, and ask yourself if you can deny that you’re beholding the lovingly painted masterpiece of a passionate artist.
Only when we see God as a real, feeling person can we begin to work toward a personal, intimate relationship with our loving Father. And it is that love, that passionate, burning, white-hot love of God that brings us to Him and gives us life. Because God is jealous and unyielding in His love for us, we can’t just bask in the glow of God’s light and not feel the searing heat from the mighty flame of His love.
This is the God I want to serve. This is the God I want to share with friends, family and strangers in line at Starbuck’s. My God is madly in love with me and desperately wants to be loved by me. He is passionately pursuing my friends, family and the Starbuck’s guy in order to show them His love and have them love Him in return. His love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench His love; rivers cannot wash it away. Given all of this, I can only be thankful and rejoice.
[Robert Fortner is a full time sales guy, part time writer and all the time husband and dad (praise the Lord for caffeine).]
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