“You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”
I made a mistake. A big one.
(Incredibly vague story alert): Awhile ago, while reading some part of the Bible I don’t remember, and with the advice of some now-unidentifiable sage, I decided to start praying that God would ‘pursue’ me. I wanted a deeper relationship with Him, but knew I lacked the capacity to love Him with all my heart, let alone as much as He deserves.
I’m not sure what I was expecting said pursuit to look like; visions of chocolate and flowers and scampering through fields of rainbows while birds sang and butterflies danced about may or may not have under-girded said prayer. Whatever my expectations were, however, they were positive. How can pursuit by an intimate Lover ever be a bad thing?
I’ll tell you how.
When that Lover is as jealous as fire, pursuit His way can hurt like fury.
I didn’t realize that before He started wooing with a love that I could sense as such, He was going to slap my first loves from my grasping fingers. I wasn’t even aware that I had so many first loves, most of them named ‘Lauren’–I hadn’t recognized that sin is still so deeply ingrained into the fiber of my being that He was going to have to take a knife to my heart before I could love Him well.
I was expecting that He would make it easy for me to love Him by sending me a share, shares, and half a share of His Spirit so that I was just bursting with love for Him and others. I thought I would skip merrily through my days, sprinkling grace on those I met like the Little Woodland Fairy of God’s love; I think I’d imagined our love would serve as a sort of natural anesthesia against pain.
Pain is apparently one of His favorite conduits for the sort of growth that leads to love.
Right now, God’s demonstrations of love for me are totally other than what I was expecting or wanting; He’s loved me beautifully through people, which has been humbling more than anything–I was expecting that as someone loved by God, I would be the strong one demonstrating His love to others.
He’s loved me by putting up barriers to prevent me from acting out in harmful ways. . .which I certainly did not appreciate in those moments.
He’s loving me by ripping the rug out from under some of my plans and dreams, about which I’m still kind of angry, if I’m being honest; but He’s not about to let me get away with loving my plans for serving Him more than I love Him.
He’s loving me right now by withdrawing just enough that I realize how very desperately I need Him, want Him; by showing me that His Spirit has been at work, so that I love Him in spite of myself–which is what I wanted in the first place.
Most of these actions on His part look more taunting than loving when I’m in the midst of them, but I suppose faith requires that I assume my love radar is off and needs to be reset.
In the meantime, I can only choose to love Him back by sticking with the process; and I think I can safely blame Him for any perseverance and patience that I appear to be demonstrating right now, for this is not a girl who likes pain or the perseverance therein.
He must become greater; I must become less.