Longing for the Divine

The Lovers’ Trysting Place

Valentine’s Day came and went this week. As I counted down to this day with my valentine, I thought about God’s love. The Bible reveals a God with a heart of intimate love. God loves emotionally and passionately. I considered the stories in which God is described as falling in love much as a man falls in love with his bride (Hosea 2–3).

I often find myself thinking about God throughout the day and saying to myself, “I love you, God.” In some moments, I feel so drawn to His beauty and changeless love that I long for His presence and embrace. How important is it for me to have these realizations of God’s love? What’s the big deal? Do I need to know the depth of God’s love? I think the way we picture God affects how we think and relate to Him. God’s love is so passionate and real. He loves so greatly. In fact, His steadfast, undying, faithful, and emotional love might surprise you.

God’s love is the most preeminent love of all, but is romantic love a portrait of how He feels about us? When the writer of Proverbs was asked about romantic love, the answer given was that “it’s too wonderful for me” to explain (Proverbs 30:18–19). God wants our hearts and is out to win them. His passionate pursuit and sacred romantic overture are wonderful and mysteriously captivating. He woos us like a bride with His love song and charms us with His beauty. That God uses the ways a man woos a beautiful woman and the love of marriage to demonstrate His loyalty and love captivates my heart. The tryst of a bride and groom is perhaps the most intense and intimate way we can imagine love.

The inner part of the Old Testament Sanctuary or Tabernacle was called the “Trysting Tent” according to the Moffatt translation (2004, p. 99) of Exodus. It was where God anticipated meeting with His people (Exodus 33:7) and was a place of intimacy, longing, and desire. The tent was designed for the meeting of two lovers—God and humanity—in an intimate union of marriage (Peck, Path to the Throne of God, 2014, p.113).

To us, love is dating and romance. It’s short-term—a fling, a fluttery heart, pulsating emotion. The love in romance novels, however, is not the same as biblical love. God’s love isn’t infatuation; it’s a love that never ends, one that grows steadily throughout the years, becoming more and more intense. It’s not the fleeting thrill of romance or a steamy love affair but a love that can be counted on year after year. This act of always and ever falling in love continues to ravish our hearts, providing the security of a perfect lover’s embrace and an undying love of the purist form.

God loves us first, and His love draws us to fall in love with Him. He softens, subdues, and charms the heart with His loveliness and beauty. Below are just a few examples of Bible passages that describe the intimate love affair that God desires with us.

“It is because the Lord has loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:8).

“We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The story of Hosea and Gomer describes the tenderness of God’s heart and His alluring passion to be romantically connected:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her…
And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master.’”

Hosea 2: 14,16

In Ezekiel, God pledges Himself to enter into an intimate love relationship:

“When I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.”

Ezekiel 16:8

When I read the Song of Solomon, I feel the intoxicating passion and deep affection of the bride and groom. The intimate lovers’ desire and delight are explicit: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine … My lover is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 1:2; 2:16).

In these verses, I sense the throbbing heart of God’s passionate love, full of emotion and yearning for the eternal fulfillment and bliss of love returned. It not only wins our hearts but drives us to forever fall in love. This sacred romance is ever unfolding. It provides a guaranteed lover and friend and makes us more compatible with and capable of loving.

If you have ever felt like an ugly duckling—one who can’t get a date—know that the great Lover of the universe has chosen you. You may have faced challenges or been rejected when seeking a date, but you are completely loved by the Man of Calvary. This divine romance is not a cheap thrill but the security of love’s embrace through sickness and death. God loves us despite our faults but never forgets His desire that each of us be beautiful and righteous, for how else could God’s passionate desires for us be fulfilled? His is an ever-deepening love affair that charms our hearts and beautifies us for a love that will last all eternity. God is moving heaven and earth to restore us as His lovely bride who will live by His side in the trysting place of lovers. This is the greatest and purist love story of all— together forever, deeply and passionately in love.

Craig Ashton Jr.

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