The power of “with”

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The other day I was scrolling through my Tumblr dash looking for new pretty pictures and words to add to my blog when I happened upon a link to a song I had never heard before, “The Bridegroom” by Rivers & Robots.  I hit the play button and was instantly bowled over by the beauty of lyrics.  If you’re familiar with the Song of Songs, you’ve already got the gist of the song, as lines from that book of the bible seem to be copied and pasted right into it:  just as the Song of Songs likens the love of God for His people to that of a marriage, this song is sung from the perspective of Jesus to the listener using much the same imagery.

This way of describing Jesus’ love for us is nothing new to me, but I’m floored every single time I remember that it’s the way Jesus sees all of us.

Because it’s so easy to forget how truly loved we are.  Not in a cute sunshine-and-rainbows way.  Not in a feel-good way that paints Jesus as some skateboarding barefoot flower-child who just wants to love everybody, man.

Because the world gives us so many examples and definitions of “love” but many of them are so cheap and empty compared to the love we were created to receive and to imitate.

Because I’m terrible about believing the lies about God that my anxious mind often feeds me, and I therefore need to be reminded constantly of how earth-shattering it is that someone as big and perfect as God thinks that someone as little and flawed as myself is worth something.  I need to be reminded that He isn’t impatient with my failings and my struggles, that He doesn’t see those things and grit his teeth at the thought of loving me despite them.

As this song reveals, God adores us, and God wants to be close to us. 

Think about that.

The same God who brought forth life just by speaking it into being, who is complete in and of Himself, who is all-good and can do no wrong and whose perfection is as far above us as the heavens are from the earth, isn’t content with just poofing us into existence and then leaving us alone, and He’s not interested in alienating us by lording His greatness over us.  He is a bridegroom longing for his beloved, a father who joyously welcomes back his wayward son, a shepherd who will follow his lost sheep to the ends of the earth to bring it back to the flock.  He doesn’t just love us; He seeks us.  He sees our faults and still He invites us to walk with Him and to partake in His life.

I think that finding this song is just one of many instances from the last few weeks of God laying a beautiful truth on my heart:  He is a relational God.  It’s such an easy truth to forget, but also a very easy one to remember.  Consider scripture, which is simply the story of God’s quest to restore humanity to relationship with Him.  Even His very nature as a trinity, as three persons in one God, reveals how He wishes to be a part of our lives.  Not just as a trinket that sits on a shelf and that we only dust off when we need it to fix something or to make us feel better, but as someone who stays at our side at all times.

It’s no coincidence to me that this truth has been playing over and over again in my mind at the same time as Advent approaches.  It is during Advent that Christians ponder the mystery and the splendor of Jesus as Emmanuel—“God with us.”  We await God’s second coming by celebrating His first entrance into human history, not as a mighty conqueror as many may have hoped, but as one of us—a helpless baby who was born of a woman, raised in a family, formed friendships, attended feasts and gatherings.  He dedicated His life to showing everybody He encountered what His Father’s love looked like.  He spun stories of prodigal sons and lost sheep and missing coins to show how relentlessly God desires to be with His people, not for His own sake but for ours.  And He died a criminal’s death that He didn’t deserve and that He could have prevented to open the way for us to be with Him forever.

This is the God who desires our hearts.  Not a bitter, vengeful God who holds our mistakes over our heads and inflicts cruel penance, but one who looks upon our brokenness with heartache and compassion and goes so far as to become one of us to show us just how much He love us and wants us back.  His power isn’t in brute strength but in love, service, and relationship without counting the cost.  He is not God over us.  He is God with us.

With.

That little preposition changes everything.

“With” means intimacy.  “With” means solidarity.  “With” means He is for us.  “With” means that He feels what our hearts feel.

These are the things I’ll be pondering this Advent.

May you also know, as Christmas approaches, that you are His beloved and that He seeks you.  And may knowing that help you to seek Him and wait for Him with all the greater joy.

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