I have to confess that I am in the middle of reading The Hunger Games books. It has been a while since I have read any fiction, and I am beginning to think that it isn’t good for me. The problem is that even a little bit of romance can stir up longings within me. How pathetic I feel, being caught up in a fictional teen-aged love triangle. Of course, I remind myself that adults read these books as works of dystopian literature, or as I heard it referred to recently, totalitarian literature. I, for one, have been talking to people about the story like I am writing a thesis paper. But deep inside my middle-aged heart is a teen-aged girl who wants to experience being loved. I found myself pondering the character Peeta’s statement that he “had a crush on [Katniss] ever since [he] can remember.” This sentiment of a fictional love makes me feel hollow and full of longing. But it also made me realize that I have been loved forever in a much more real way. Because even if the story were true, a human cannot love before he is born. But God is infinite, and His love for me is also infinite.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.Ephesians 1:3-6
So, why don’t I feel God’s love? Why do I long for a man when the love of God is so much more? Why does being human have to be full of longing for the wrong things? Intellectually, I know that no human can really fill me. Only God can satisfy the desires of my heart, and yet, I so rarely feel satisfied. Certainly, I am doing something wrong. There must be sin in my heart because God should be my foremost desire. How can I think that His perfect love for me is not good enough, and infer that the love of another sinner, like myself, would be better? I have a traitor’s heart. It is truly an adulterous heart because I am God’s, and yet, I keep looking around to see if someone else will have me. Perhaps it is His greatest mercy to me that no one wants me – except Him, the Greatest Him.
My joy should be complete. I should drink of His living water and never thirst for anything else. But I long for a person to put his arms around me and hold me. I long for physical touch, which is almost entirely absent in my life. Is it because I am human, or because I don’t believe that Jesus is really with me, loving me each day? I was driving to work, the other day, and Chris Tomlin’s voice came over the speakers singing, “You are still my first love. . .” and there was a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I wanted to cry because I don’t think I love God that way – the way King David did. But God has loved me forever, and not a childish crush, but a true love, in spite of so many sins and flaws. I started to sing along with the song, more as a prayer that God would make me feel the words were true: “You are still my first love / And all I’m longing for.”
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him, In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for out sins. . .We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:9-10, 19
I suppose this adulterous heart is why I understand the book of Hosea more each time I read it. God loved me and chose me. He faithfully provides me with every good thing, and chases me down when I wander away. And He forgives me, even though I long for someone else – the love of a human man. This means that I am counting God’s love as substandard because I can’t feel Him with me the same way. My desire for human intimacy is stronger than my desire to be closer to God. Maybe it is an example of the wanting more that which you can’t have and taking for granted what you always have. But that doesn’t make it right; I know that it isn’t. I am not sure how to correct it, except to try to discipline myself to draw nearer to God. If I continue to soak my mind in the truth of this eternal and perfect love, this love I do not deserve, how can my heart not respond?
God is not be fooled by pretend devotion, and He does not want lukewarm, halfhearted love. He is more worthy of my love than any other being. If I can continue to grow in my knowledge of His awesome greatness, surely I will grow in my love and devotion to Him. As I was out on a walk this week, I thought, “Why would God chose to love me?” The answer came quickly: for His glory. That is God’s root motivation. The natural follow up question to that is, “How can I possibly bring any glory to God?” I am not sure what all God has in mind for my life, but in light of all this, I know that I need to take a closer look at how I am living it.