Day 2: Love Stories
Posted on 11/07/2016
I am a sucker for love stories. Have always been. There is something about witnessing the union of two different people coming together because of their love for each other. I especially enjoy listening to the couple share their side of the love story, and watch the dreamy smile on the woman’s face or the quizzical yet pleased grin on the man’s face as they share how they met. I’m often in awe at the end, amazed that of all the love story writers, God writes the best ones.
As a single woman, it’s hard not to wonder when He’ll write mine. It’s often on my mind whenever I witness a love story unfold before my eyes. As a writer, I often weave romantic tales of two completely different people meeting and falling in love. It comforts and unsettles me at the same time, wondering when God will write my story. But I’m patient (though I lapse into a state of doubt occasionally) as I wait for Him to unfold mine.
So in my curiosity to discover God’s beloved, I flip through the pages of His love letter, reminded that if he can write the greatest love stories for others, His own must be amazing.
I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.
Today, this verse repeats itself in my mind. I flip to my trusty concordance and pause at Songs of Solomon. My fingers falter as a blush creeps up my neck. Songs of Solomon, the forbidden book of the Bible.
In my youth, that taboo book was never visited. And whenever the church had to reference it, which was as often as a red moon, it was referenced at weddings. An audacious pastor is reduced to stuttering and shifty eyes whenever he reads Songs of Solomon, and rightly so. It is explicit, bold and passionate.
Yet, as I hesitantly flip through the short book of love, I notice something I haven’t before. Songs of Solomon is about a lover rejoicing in His Beloved.
Songs of Solomon 6:3, ESV
“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.”
This refrain and many more in Songs of Solomon, speak of a passionate lover who seeks his Beloved and bride. Some who are brave enough to read this book without blushing argue that the lover is Solomon and the Beloved one of his many courtesans. I prefer to believe that the Lover is God and the Beloved is to be known.
Yet I wonder why God allowed such a passionate book to be enveloped between the vulnerable expository of Solomon and the directive of Isaiah. It seems out of place, at first sighting.
In Isaiah 62:1-7, the prophet Isaiah speaks of Zion’s restoration. He prophesies of her transformation from desolation to glory, of being called by a new name and becoming royalty. But the verses that stick out to me are verses 4-5.
Isaiah 62:4-5, NIV
“No longer will they call you Deserted or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
I sit back with a quizzical smile. Of course Songs of Solomon is placed right before Isaiah, because God has written this passionate, explicit love letter to His Beloved, Zion.
I flip back to Songs of Solomon with less hesitance now, curious about God’s passion toward Zion, a nation also known as Israel. All throughout history, he has spoken of his unconditional love toward his Beloved, even when she was unfaithful. Time and time again, Zion/Israel has turned away from God’s passionate love to seek unsatisfying affairs with gods of other nations, imbibing in rituals and religions of gods that can’t speak or save. Yet, God still beckons his Beloved back to him.
Okay, so God’s Beloved is Israel. That much is clear. I’ve known that for a while now, each book of the Bible recanting God’s unfailing love and patience toward a people he has called his own. My discovery of God’s Beloved has come to an end, or so I think.
I scroll through my concordance, to check if I’ve forgotten something. Then a verse sticks out and I flip to it quickly, a smile lighting my face as I come to it.
Hosea 2:23, NIV
“I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
It is no surprise that God has always favored one nation over another, it is written from Genesis to Hosea. God punished the “unloved ones” while showing grace and love to His Beloved for centuries. Yet in Hosea, this blessed love is shown to the unloved ones… a people outside of Zion.
My heart skips a beat and another as a truth settles in my conscience. This love letter isn’t just written for a wayward bride Zion. God’s love letter is for me. I am God’s beloved and He is my God.
I let out a laugh and allow myself to smile in the early moments of the day. Now that I am made aware of who this letter is written for (me!), I begin to look at the verses of love a bit differently, more clearly.
God is writing my love story with Him as my lover. Psalms reads a little differently, I find myself blushing through Isaiah and Jeremiah. Even Songs of Solomon makes me giggle, my heart light as I realize something. He has been calling since Day 1, perhaps even before my journey began. I had casually studied the Bible, his love letter, not knowing all long He had addressed it to me.
I am His Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.
What a pleasant surprise indeed.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for revealing to me that I am your Beloved. Your blessed and passionate words of love to those you have now called yours has become dearer to me. Thank you for accepting me as your own, for calling me yours. I pray that on this journey, I will discover who I am in your eyes. Help me to accept your love and to allow myself to be known as fully yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.