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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away." – Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Lush and heavy connubial language runs throughout all Scripture though is arguably the most evident in Hosea, Isaiah, and Song of Solomon. Here, God is a contemplative as He rhapsodizes like a lovesick teenager that would put a Taylor Swift song to shame. Yet, while there is unbelievable tenderness (Hosea 2:14), there is also protective jealousy. How often do you meditate on the fact that God is unapologetically jealous for you, His beautiful one (Exodus 34:14)?

The story of adulterous Israel and her many affairs among the nations reveals our own infidelity and inclination to pursue many lovers, even to worship love itself as our religion rather than God Himself, the primary Object of our worship. Although we have entertained many lovers, only our Husband has given Himself utterly for us (Romans 5:6-10).

The glorious scandal in our era of tolerance is that God is the Great Lover: His unblushing nearness and ever-present availability is a conundrum and embarrassment to the wise. He fails utterly to play coy, to manipulate, or to keep His options open. No other but our Bridegroom has hung naked, exposed, and violently abused in our place, the criminal's cross, for the likes of me and you: His Beloved. As His wife and bride, we stand under His unmerited favor.

When we fail to fight to follow our Lover, when we fail to know Him intimately and to love Him, we experience brokenness not only with our Great Lover but also within our community (John 17:23-25). The Gospel makes it abundantly clear that the relationship between God and community (divine love and natural love) cannot be segregated (1 John 4:9-11). The natural affections of our human condition (i.e., love for family, friendship, and romance) are all at risk when we believe that love is God. C.S. Lewis's novel, Till We have Faces, shows through the myth of Psyche and Eros that "God is ever seeking...those who will turn to Him." In his story two sisters, Orual and Psyche, discover their need to be unveiled as the Beloved, to show themselves to the gods, and thereby to experience true, undemanding love for others, and finally to love God more than love itself.

If there is one moral of the story, it is that "Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god." While Orual, who has no love for the gods, would say, "I'm no beggar. I love you disinterestedly," Psyche is a portrait of the bride's love rightly related to Christ. As such, her ability to love those around her is due to her nearness and humility before God. As their teacher, the Fox, states, "To love and lose what we love, are equally things appointed for our nature. If we cannot bear the second well, that evil is ours. It did not befall Psyche."

As we, His Bride, draw near, we experience His love, compassion and yes, His ecstasy for us. Pleasure can never be separated from our worship and our loving. Psyche claims as much when she states that she has been made ready for her union with the god of the Grey Mountain since she was a little girl: "They chose me." Pleasure stirred up her longing for the sublime, and she sensed that "all my life,
the god of the Grey Mountain has been wooing me." Take hold of the Gospel for yourself and see your Maker, your Husband, desires to woo you with tender kisses and powerful promises. Believe His promises that your future is filled with love and fulfillment (Isaiah 54:5). The winter is past!

Today's praise music recommendation: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong

Alexandra Harper
Ministry Fellow at Princeton