Monday, April 2, 2018

God's Romance is Better Than Any Romantic Fantasy

I had to completely erase my first draft of this post because I neglected to include my own struggles in it. I tried to use modern day love stories, books and movies alike, to contrast with God's pursuit of us. But then I realized I wasn't really doing justice to the truth God has been illuminating to me recently. To accurately convey how He's been working on my heart, I had to be real and raw. And so, I'm sharing some embarrassing struggles of mine so you can see how I believe God's romance is so much better than any fantasy that the world, or our own minds, try to feed us.

Embarrassing Truth

Ever since I was a preteen, I have struggled with entertaining sexual fantasies. I believe it started with watching kissing and make out scenes in movies and TV shows, and then my mind wandered from there. I was drawn in by the thrill and excitement. To be touched, held and caressed by a strong, handsome man seemed like the dream. Of course, as a female, my fantasies
revolved around the emotions of falling in love, being pursued and desired. To be a man's whole world, to be the only thing he could think about. To be his obsession. That whole scene was just so alluring.

SIDE NOTE: Now that I'm five years into my own marriage, I understand that if any of those fantasies were reality in my life, I would be in a VERY unhealthy relationship. Though I've made some poor decisions and sinful mistakes, God has protected me from any kind of manipulative or abusive relationship I might have been susceptible to because of the fantasies that often consumed my mind. I'm so very grateful for a husband who loves and respects me as an equal partner in this crazy life.

Proverbs 4:23
Watch over your heart with all diligence, 
For from it flow the springs of life. 

Worldly fantasies pervert what God created to be good. I think they appeal to my selfish desire to be the center of the story. I like the idea of someone giving up their whole world in order to pursue me, and to devote their entire focus to being with me. In fantasy land, I'm very worthy of someone's sole devotion. They're life gets better when they're with me. If ever I felt particularly self-indulgent, I'd imagine a scene where my suitor begged forgiveness for some kind of offense against me and did every kind of selfless act imaginable to prove his love for me.

Transforming the Fantasy

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

As I share these super embarrassing thoughts for anyone on the internet to read, I'm kind of counting on maybe just one person reading this can relate on some level. For anyone who can relate to being tempted by similar fantasies, humor me for a minute:

For the sake of ease and consistency, I'm referring to the suitor as "he."
Imagine your ideal suitor (I've been partial to a dark and mysterious type) longing for you. You start to spend time together (maybe through some unplanned, adventurous set of circumstances?). You start falling for each other and forming a deep connection. He soon becomes the love of your life and it almost hurts to be apart from him.

Then another comes along and seduces you, playing on your deepest desires. You feel a little guilty being with him, but he also offers you the world. You just can't seem to help yourself but to be with him.

Your suitor quickly discovers you with your seducer. Immediately, the pain hits you. You can't believe you just betrayed the love of your life. You don't know why you did it.  "It meant nothing," you tell him. But you know it's a lie. You promise never to do it again, but the damage is already done. You have severed trust and broken the relationship.

Suddenly, your seducer attacks you with full force. He starts landing blow after blow, and you can barely move from the shock and agony. You can't believe it. This person that you just gave so much of yourself to is now using your vulnerabilities against you. You start to feel utter remorse for betraying your suitor, the one who would never harm you. The one who always kept you safe. But before you know it, he jumps in, willing to sacrifice himself to save your life. He suffers a heavy beating, and though he survives, he will forever have scars to remember that day.

Your suitor holds you, offering full forgiveness if you will just return to him, never to go astray again. You promise. You are beyond thankful to be back in his safe arms.

But as time goes on, your seducer makes contact again. You start to flirt, but it doesn't end there. You find yourself back in his clutches. Promises of riches and safety turn into torment.

You think to yourself, "Why do I keep doing this?" You confess to your suitor what you've done. Your heart breaks as you watch him cry, but also floods with relief when he holds you and tells you how much he loves and forgives you.

You question, "Eventually my love is going to stop forgiving me and will leave. How does he not hate me?" Sometimes you feel too ashamed to even be around him. But to not be around him means to be tempted by your seducer.

And yet every time you falter, though there's pain and trust lost, he forgives you. He continues to pursue you with all that he is. He continues to sacrifice himself daily for you. And though he asks the same of you, you know that you can never measure up to him. No matter how much you sacrifice or how hard you try, your efforts are nothing compared to his. Your heart still skips when he comes near you, because you know He will always love you, despite all the heartache you've caused him.

Hosea 2:5-8
For she said, 'I will go after my lovers,
Who give me my bread and my water,
My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, 
And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, 'I will go back to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!'
For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, 
And lavished her with silver and gold.

Although my illustration is an admittedly poor depiction of God's active, loving pursuit of us, using this helps me transform my thinking. When I put things in perspective - that I am the adulterer, fantasies my seducer, and God is my ever loyal suitor, I am humbled. No, I am humiliated. I finally see how utterly hopeless I am without Him. And I am ashamed. But still, He, the True Center of the story, comes after me with all that He has, I become exhilarated, caught up in His pure, consuming romance. 

The Reality of God's Romance

I think the book of Song of Solomon is evidence that God is in full support of a good romance. The desire. The pursuit. The loving embrace. The ups and downs of the relationship to create a dramatic love story.

God's pursuit of me makes every other love story on earth look petty and shallow. He truly DID give up everything in order to be with me. When, for a moment, I come to grasp that God's romance is so pure, so unconditional, even a bit mysterious, and so beyond anything I deserve, it's like no other thing. It's a love story with me being pursued by the most desirable and attractive Being in existence, but me being the most selfish person alive. Yet God desires me. Just as I know He desires you, dear reader (1 Tim. 2:4).



2 Corinthians 5:18-21
Now...God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He mad Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 


In what ways has God transformed your thoughts? Let me know in the comments. 

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