Looking For Romance (in all the wrong places)

One of the most difficult things for me as a blogger, is handling the disconnect between topics I am passionate about and what people want to read about. Often the blogs that mean the most to me, and that I spent the most time on, receive the fewest views. I was looking at the numbers, recently, and I found there is one blog post that has been read more than any other except the one I posted to launch my site. The blog was written the week after I had been asked out by a man I met at the coin-op car wash.

The cynical side of me has long believed that other people find me more interesting if I have some kind of romantic prospect. I stumbled into this hypothesis ten years ago, when I last dated someone. The women at work were suddenly more interested in my life. I went from being on the outside of the group to being the center of attention. They attempted to extract every detail from me, so that they could speculate among themselves. It was a brief phase. When it ended, I faded back into obscurity, having learned something about people.

Now I am wondering if the same theory can be applied to my blog. Are people more interested if there is even the slightest hint of potential romance? And what is it in our human constitution that makes us so interested in romance and the relationships of others? I am tempted to think that our obsession with romance is a luxury of our wealthy culture. We have so much time for books, movies, and magazines, all of which tell us there is something missing from our lives if we don’t have romance. But there is more to it than culture.

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.

Isaiah 54:5

There seems to be an innate longing within each of us. If there is any one indication that this desire is put there by God, it is that God in His Word uses romantic stories and analogies to demonstrate His love for His people. The redemptive story of Ruth and the passionate Song of Solomon are the first examples that come to my mind. I actually used to skip Song of Solomon in my One Year Bible because I didn’t like to put the romantic imagery into my head. Reading Spurgeon’s devotionals has changed my mind and helped me to realize that there is more to that book than appears at first read. It isn’t just about a male-female relationship.

Still, the kind of romance we read in God’s Word could never be confused with something from the paperback rack or the Hallmark channel. We are inculcated with the idea that romance is warm-fuzzy feelings, sexual attraction, and happily-ever-after. God’s idea is more like the book of Hosea. One side of the relationship is a woman totally unworthy of love, who can’t keep her vows. On the other side is the Righteous One, chasing after her, redeeming time and again, faithful even when she turns her back on Him. If it were a movie, we would probably walk out of the theater. We would be disgusted with a man who kept going after a woman so undeserving of him, and we would be angry with a woman who kept forsaking such a perfect love. Who would want to watch that? Yet that is our true story.

Last week, I wrote about the bad decision that seemed to have ruined my life. That occurred after I spent my teens and early twenties looking for my life to be a perfect romance. I analyzed my life the way one would study a work of literature. I second guessed God’s plan for my life and tried to write my own story. I was sure that God had a grand romance in my future, with a man that I would spend my life with. I thought that the main story line of my life was a love relationship with a man. But the primary theme in any of our lives is our relationship with God. It took me years of prayer and reading through Scripture for this to become clear to me. God’s place in our lives must be first, not second to a spouse or other love. This is the crucial lesson of my adult life because it isn’t just about how I interact with God. It defines how I view potential romance in my own life. I will not settle for less than a man who puts God first in his life, also.  That is the only way that a human romance will be what it ought to be.

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

Hosea 2:19-20

Everywhere we look, romantic stories are thrown at us on television, in social media, and at the grocery store check out. Sometimes it is fiction and other times celebrity gossip for those eager to keep up with the real life soap opera. It is all emptiness, which keeps people going back for more. We do ourselves a favor when we put down the novels and magazines and pick up our Bibles. It is the only way we can fill the longing. Someday, when we are taken from this life, we will see Jesus face to face, and the longing will be gone. A wedding day will come that will be more glorious that we could ever ‘ask or imagine.’ Let our hearts long for that day, only.

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