DayBreaks for 11/13/15: The Progression of His Love
From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:
The way that we love, and learn to love, is fascinating. As little children, we love the person who can meet our needs – whether its for food or for a diaper change. We’re rather self-centered at that stage. (Sadly, some folks never learn how to leave that self-centered stage behind to grow into more mature love.) It really isn’t until we perhaps fall in love for the umpteenth time that we learn that love isn’t about us, but about someone else. It’s about being there for them, being there with them, in spite of who they are or what they can offer to us. Even then, during the early years of that kind of love, we may be too focused on things like appearances. As time passes, the beauty that needs to draw us the most is the beauty that grows inside of our loved one – for it is by far more beautiful than any physical beauty. And then our love enters into another stage – perhaps the closest that we’ll get to the agape love of God. We may be tempted to wish that we could just jump to that mature stage of love immediately and bask in its warmth, but we can’t because we have to learn how to love and how to be loved by someone else. It takes time and a growing understanding of what love is.
Perhaps that’s why the Bible lays out the story of God’s love for us in a very intriguing way. It starts with rather impersonal terms of relationship or likeness, and as the story of God’s interaction with mankind develops, the terms become more and more intimate and compelling. This was pointed out in the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, pg. 114: “…Scripture uses a number of metaphors to describe our relationship with God. We are portrayed as clay, and He is the Potter. We are sheep, and He the Shepherd. Every metaphor is beautiful and speaks to the various seasons of our spiritual lives and to the various aspects of God’s heart toward us. But have you noticed they ascend in a stunning way? From the Potter and his clay to a shepherd and his sheep, there is a marked difference in intimacy, in the way they relate. It gets even better. From master and servant to father and child, there is a wonderful progression into greater intimacy. It grows more beautiful and rich when he calls us his friends. But what is most breathtaking is when God says he is our Lover (our Bridegroom, our Fiance), and we his bride. That is the pinnacle, the goal of our redemption (used in the last chapter of the Bible, when Christ returns for his bride) and the most intimate and romantic of all.”
Here’s the bottom line on this, I think: we shouldn’t assume that God has been learning how to love us throughout human history, and that only by the time we reach the end of time itself will He love us maturely. God doesn’t need to grow in anything. It is we who must do the growing. It is our love and understanding of it that is imperfect and immature and childish. We learn from God’s dealings with His people more about Him, just as we learn more about our best friends as we go through life with them. We couldn’t possibly understand God’s metaphors of love and relationship for us if not for the inspired record of His dealing with us. And we couldn’t understand His dealings with us except for His Son and His sacrifice. The final proof of His love for us that will usher us into that final relationship will be revealed when the Groom comes to collect His bride – just as the groom would come to collect his bride in the ancient Middle East. He will keep His word and His promise that He’s given us. He will prove His love yet once again when He comes back to get us and take us home.
Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we have so much to learn about love. As your bride, may we prepare ourselves – not with outward adornment, but through learning how to love so that we may give you the glory that you deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.