People love to love love. At least the idea of it. Caught up in dreams of bliss and ease, we desire love that is desirable. A shadowy longing for a great love story that has been imprinted deep in our memories. A tale of love that lasts forever.
People love to love an idea of love when it is happy and victorious. But there may be more to the real love story.
Even though people love to love love, we don’t always love everything that love is. Thrilling and ecstatic, humiliating and sacrificial, dangerous and messy, enduring and painful. The story of true love reaches beyond what we naturally love to love. The story of real love shines through a greater narrative of which we are only a tiny part.
The essence of a love story is ultimately told from the lips of the Creator of all things.
It may be strange to think about the Word of God as a love story. There are so many parts to the Bible--narrative, poetry, letters, prophecy. Though the story is one simple thing, it’s oftentimes lost in the intricate details of the examination of the Word of God. His love tumbles on its head at the very beginning of the Bible and keeps tossing and turning every step down the path. Every retelling of this beautiful love story reveals a little more, coloring in the lines with a deeper shade of compassion. This is a story of God’s incredible love for his creation. And He is completely head over heels from start to finish.
It’s the same love story over and over again.
In the beginning, God created. He spoke into the darkness and formed that which he loved. Children in his image, man and woman filled with his precious gift of breath. Soaring hopes and expectations, God loved his creations, lavishing them with every good thing.
Yet, they broke his heart. To make it worse, they knew exactly what they were doing. Woman exchanged the love of God for a bite of truth. Man exchanged the love of God for the voice of another. God is devastated and angry, but he still loves. He promised them everything would be alright, even when it looked the darkest.
Adam and Eve, named Beloved, left the garden, clothed in animal skins, covered by a sacrifice.
In the land of Egypt, God heard their cry. He cared, watched, and provided for his people whom he loved. Children of Israel, families of faithful servants, following the commandments of God. “I will show my steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love me,” God promises (Exod. 20:6).
Yet, they broke his heart with idols, impatience, complaints. God’s children chased after silent and lame shadows with their ravenous desire. These people, set aside by the most Holy God, pushed him aside only to fill their own bellies with perishable treasure. God is devastated and angry, but he still loves. He promised them a wonderful counselor, stricken, smitten, and afflicted for the healing of the nations.
The children of Israel, named Beloved, wandered in the barren desert, drenched in lamb’s blood, covered by a sacrifice.
In an overlooked small town, God knew what he had to do. He sent his only Son into the hostile, dark world which he loved, full of wayward children, with no understanding of who had been born right down the street.
As a great gift for their salvation set on the path to sacrifice, God began to reveal his story. Yet they all continued to break his heart. Followers looking for a magic healer, Pharisees looking for a scapegoat, thieves looking for an escape, they had no idea what this Savior was doing. God is devastated and angry, but he still loves. He handed the cup of wrath to his perfectly obedient Son, so the unrighteous would live.
The wretched world received the name Beloved, dripping from a lonely cross, covered by a sacrifice.
In my silent thoughts today, God speaks into my darkness and calls me the one he loves. A child of the light, reconciled to the Almighty. God overwhelms me with his gifts. And yet, I break his heart. Secrets, anger, desires, failures, I don’t even know what I’m doing. I exchange the truth of God for a lie. I love the darkness more than the light. I love idols, impatience, justified escape.
But God is no longer devastated nor angry. Because he has loved. “God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God said that Jesus took the last of his fury. God said that Jesus was the end of his law. So he declares right now that I am forgiven, buried with Christ, alive forever.
I have been named Beloved, clothed with a righteousness not my own, covered by a sacrifice.
It’s the same love story over and over again.
This love story goes on and on, from the beginning of time. Every retelling of this incredible story reveals a little more, exposing our inadequacy, producing more devotion, capturing unspoken emotion, inspiring us to a greater love. Each time we hear the tale of sacrifice and patience of our God, our understanding of the truth of love deepens. We have received the everlasting story of God’s tremendous love for his creation by his word.
He remains completely head over heels for us from start to finish. This is love.