Have you ever had one of those moments... when you're just SO in awe... dumbfounded even... at the realization of how much someone has done to show you they love you? It leaves you speechless. Almost in tears. You realize that this is it. He's the ONE. The search is over. This is who you're going to spend the rest of your life with.
I had one of those moments this morning... and suddenly... magically... so many things fell into place and I realized... and I was speechless. I've been the recipient of... lavish love.
The term "lavish love" came into my mind a few weeks ago actually. I was poking around on Anderson's laptop and I found something he wrote to me... a while ago... maybe in 2007 or so. This particular document was one of those WordPad documents... he liked using WordPad because it loads faster and it's simple... it's all he felt he needed most of the time to jot stuff down without all the complication of having to open a Word document. Anyway... I stumbled upon this particular document. It was a flood of text. I think it must have been at least a page, single-spaced about all the things Anderson loved about me. All my weird quirks... all our inside jokes... who I am, inside and out... the way I dress, the way I say things, the way I show him I love him... right down to how I dispose of my boogers... he loved it all. Sorry if that was TMI (that means Too Much Information, for those of you who didn't already know). Pages of "I love the way you..." and so on. It was almost embarrassing to read, but that's when the term came to mind. I was loved with a lavish love. Love isn't just words... he showed me lavish love through his actions too... through his sacrifice for me... through constantly putting my needs above his... choosing to comfort me in my sorrow while he suffered in his failing body. Lavish love.
In my devotionals, this week's name of God is Ish, which means husband in Hebrew. It's the name of God that was used in Isaiah & Jeremiah to describe Him as the husband of His chosen people of Israel. I'm no Hebrew scholar... it's just what I read.
I've been learning/realizing how much our lives here on earth are but a foggy shadow... a dimly represented form of the true reality of what's waiting for us in the kingdom of heaven. Very concretely, the marriage relationship is a dim reflection of how God loves His church... His people. Recently, my small group went through Ephesians and we had a very good discussion about how husbands were to love their wives like Christ loves the church.
Here's the passage from Ephesians 5 (The Message)
25-28Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.
29-33No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
I would venture to say that Anderson loved me with this kind of love. He brought out the best in me. Through loving me, he was used by God to purify me... mold me... change me... transform me into a better person. Through his love, I was made presentable... in other versions it says "without wrinkle" and "spotless". I'm still a work in progress, but I really believe that this is what Anderson's love did in me. It's a truly beautiful mystery. I'm SO, SO blessed.
Now... if this is the kind of wonderful husband God provided for me... and all of life here is a foggy shadow... how much MORE powerful is Christ's love to bring out the best in me... in you... in His church? And all I have to do is honor Him? Sounds good to me!
Now to honor God... to honor Ish... husband... what does that look like? Well, I can tell you what it doesn't look like through the example of Hosea and his wife, Gomer. This is from memory so please feel free to correct me if I got some things wrong. Basically, God told Hosea, one of His prophets, to go marry an adulteress/prostitute. Why would He do that?!? I used to think that it was pretty darn messed up of God to tell Hosea to do that. Why not some nice, Jewish girl from an upstanding family and a big dowry? I don't think it's messed up of God anymore... Now I see... it was so that Hosea could understand in real life how God acts and how God feels for His people. The messed up one was Gomer.
Gomer had it good. She was basically trash. Hosea found her, married her, brought her out of her destructive lifestyle and elevated her to the highest place in Hosea's house... she was his wife. His jewel. His precious. He provided for her, put a roof over her head, a pillow to sleep on, one bed to lie on. Her search was over. She had a home and a husband. They had children. She had security. You would think that she would have been, at the very least, grateful... if not completely head-over-heels speechless and in awe at the lavish love that Hosea poured on her.
But that's not what she did. She was unfaithful. She left him and went to pursue other lovers. Isn't that just SO messed up?
And what did Hosea do? God told Hosea to go find her... love her... and buy her back. He paid for her! For his own wife! Did he have to do it? Dunno. Should you have to pay to get your own wife back? No... but that's what he did. He paid the price for her... because he loved her and wanted her back.
K. So. Messed up, right?
It's totally symbolic. God is Hosea... and Israel is Gomer. Totally NOT how we should be honoring a husband.
So on to honoring... how do you honor a husband? Through submission and obedience. Not making it up. It's in the verses right before telling the husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
As much as it angers me that Gomer basically spat in Hosea's face by leaving him... that's how we should view our rebellion and our sin against God. God redeemed us... He saved us from a life of destruction, of wandering, of running from place to place, person to person... looking for something, but never being satisfied... He saved us from all of that... elevated us to a place of honor... adopted us as His own... and turning our backs on Him to chase after money, power, status... even love... to allow our sins to remain in our lives... is a grave injustice... vile profanity. Spitting in the face of One who has only ever shown us lavish love.
God is holy. He is perfect. He is blameless... without spot, without blemish... perfect goodness and purity. Because He's holy... He hates sin. It's dirty, it's filthy, it's vile. He can't stand it. We can't be in His presence when sin's present and if God is good and God is life... anywhere without God is horrible, painful death. So out of love for us... He gives us the opportunity to be clean, restored... pure and holy... the opportunity to be with Him in all His goodness. He paid the price to wipe away the dirtiness... and that price was His Son. All we have to do is believe and confess with our mouths.
Romans 10:9 that L)">if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and M)">believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
You know what I think is SO awesome about God? So many things but one of the biggest is that going to Him... receiving Him... costs us nothing... and everything at the same time. God wants us to love Him. He wants us to be purified... through obedience... with the motivation of LOVE. That is totally NOT in line with what a human would think... as evidenced by so many other religions whose motivation to purification (or to do what they feel is right) is through force or threat... or through the promise of power, or sex with virgins, or upward mobility. Those things... are so... human. So typical... that the BEST a human could come up with... the "heaven" that they think is worth aspiring to consists of ruling over your own world (power and control) or sex. But motivation through love? And motivation for what? Not to gain power or control or status... but to die to ourselves so that God will increase in us. Who'da thought of THAT?!? Who'da thought that saying no to yourself... sacrificing yourself... NOT looking out for yourself... and submitting to God would bring you any happiness whatsoever? No human would have thought that, but that's exactly what happens when you give your life up to God. You're washed clean, you're made complete... you don't have to look anywhere else for anything because you've got it all. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control...
This entry isn't very "PC". In fact, it's probably offensive. Some of it anyway.
This one took me a long time to write and I still don't think I'm done... but I'm tired.
Horrible way to end a post.
How did I want to end this? I wanted to write about how Anderson's love opened my eyes to God's love... about how I would respect my husband is also how I should be respecting God. And about how every sin, every rebellion... every time I look elsewhere for fulfillment... is like a betrayal to God... trading something priceless, pure, and valuable, for something broken, ugly, and will not satisfy. Leave behind and submit your sins, your idols... with urgency... run back into the arms of the One who loves you with lavish love. Keep running back to Him, every minute of every day for the rest of your lives. Yeah. That's what I wanted to say. Night!