Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Divine Discontent

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God... These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me." Song of Songs 7:10

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
Lyrics from U2's song, "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
Lately I have been meditating on the Song of Songs. It is clear that this is both a picture of idyllic married love but it is also a picture of the relationship of the Bride to Christ. I have heard that the Jewish custom was not to allow young men to read it til they were of a certain age because they considered it pretty hot stuff. And the language is very voluptuous and evocative of the intimacy of married lovers, but in a way that is truly beautiful and lacking of the smuttiness the world typically imposes.
I had a revelation about this the other day. After hunger and thirst, one of the strongest drives that mankind knows is the sex drive. In reading over the Song, I suddenly realized what that drive is to picture: our longing for intimacy, face to face with our Husband. But even more shockingly, it describes His love and desire for His Bride.
"I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me."
We may be accustomed to think of God's love in its sacrificial life-giving terms and ponder the love that would die in the place of the worst condemned prisoner. Do we think of it also in terms of being the intense desire of a lover? This aspect blows me away when I contemplate its depths.
The paradox of the Christian life is that we are to practice contentment with our lot in life and yet at the same time manifest an intense divine discontent that makes us long for union with our Husband. We are like Abraham, dwelling by faith in the Promised Land of salvation and yet knowing that we have not yet found what we are looking for.

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