Learning to Be the Beloved
For many people it is difficult to see God as anything more than some ethereal, external force that floats around in a far away nothingness seeking at all times to burden our lives with rules and punish us for each and every misstep. This unfortunately false concept of God is what those who deny His existence often believe Him to be, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The one true God, Creator of the Universe is actually closer to us than we can ever imagine, who desires at all costs to enter into intimate relationship with us. In fact, God loves us so much that He wants to marry us.
If this is the first time you’ve heard this it might be difficult to comprehend at first. There are many images of God, ways in which we try in our broken humanity to relate to Him—Father, Creator, Savior, Friend, Slave master, Tyrant, Dictator, Master, Teacher, etc. Depending on where you find yourself on the spiritual journey of life, will influence a great deal which of these images you possess. However, when you pick up the Bible off the shelf and read it, you might find yourself surprised by the overwhelmingly nuptial language that God uses when He speaks to His people. He doesn’t see us as His multitude of minions, as His mindless drones, or worthless slaves. Nor does He seek to merely coexist with His Creation. God wants to be intimately involved with you in every aspect of your life.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall people call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.
God Delights in You
Honestly, it isn’t always easy to believe that God delights in me. In fact, sometimes it is nearly impossible. Knowing myself, the way I am, it doesn’t seem likely that God would find delight in me. However, when I became a father I came to understand. My children are not always well-behaved, nor are they perfect little angels. Yet, the overwhelmingly unconditional love that I have for them surpasses any feelings of disappointment or aggravation that I could ever have. And most times I can just gaze at them in awe, filled with love for them exactly as they are.
And it is in these moments I understand exactly the kind of delight God finds in me. It’s not that I do anything to earn or deserve it. It’s the mere fact that I am His beloved Son that He finds delight in me.
Many can understand and accept God as Father, ruling over the family, establishing order, leading and guiding, providing for our needs. It’s fairly easy to grasp for most. Yet even the fact that He has chosen you as His beloved child means not only that He will take care of all of these things, but even more importantly that He wants His relationship with you to be intimate and eternal.
You see, by being your friend or spiritual guide, there is always a possibility that the relationship could end. For whatever reason it can be decided that you will go your separate ways. But by entering into a familial relationship as Father and child, He is in essence saying that He wants His relationship with you to be permanent, intimate, and everlasting.
Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there you are. If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, Even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast.
No matter what happens throughout the course of the relationship your father is always your father. You can reject him, deny him, run a thousand miles away from him, but on the deepest level he will always be your father. The same is true with God. As rebellious, disrespectful, and ungrateful you might be, you will never stop being His child. And that is because family is forever.
Being Married to God
Having grasped this idea of a family relationship with God makes this next step a little easier to understand. Even more than being your Father, God wants to be your spouse. It might sound crazy, but remember the passage from Isaiah we read earlier.
As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.
It’s not just some flowery use of poetic language. God actually wants to marry you. His love for you is that of a husband for his wife. He loves her unconditionally and will do anything, make any sacrifice for her. This concept takes us even deeper into the love of God. As we mature in our faith our relationship with Him takes on a different character. It also helps to explain the rules and boundaries we discussed before, for every husband wants a wife that is pure, faithful, and happy.
If you read pretty much any book in the Old Testament you will clearly see how Israel (God’s people) were unfaithful to Him. Countless times they run off to other gods, they reject Him, deny Him, and try to live life without Him. Yet they always come running back seeking the forgiveness only a loving husband can give. And although at times the language He uses sounds angry or hostile, what husband wouldn’t be angry or at least disappointed with a wife who acted this way?
Accuse your mother, accuse! for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove her prostitution from her face, her adultery from between her breasts, or I will strip her naked, leaving her as on the day of her birth; I will make her like an arid land, and let her die of thirst.
These are the words of a husband with a broken heart, his beloved spouse having abandoned him. Yet if you continue reading you will see even in His disappointment, God takes her back and promises to love her. Why? Because He is committed. Because he is merciful. Because the marriage relationship is a covenant that cannot be broken, just like the Father and child relationship. It too is permanent, intimate, and everlasting.
An Intimate and Unbreakable Union
God lavishes His love freely into every aspect of your life that you will welcome Him into. When a man and woman are married they become one in everything and on every level. There are no longer secrets. Everything is shared, mutual. There is no longer “I”, but only “we”. And through this union together the spouses become co-creators, able through the power of their love to create new life.
This is the kind of intimacy God wants to have with you. You may feel unworthy. You may not be able to see God in this light, but the truth is He loves you more than you can ever truly understand or comprehend. These images are meant to give you a deeper look into who God is so that you can more faithfully enter into relationship with Him, not as merely a friend in Heaven or an impersonal spiritual reality, but your beloved spouse.