Friday, August 1, 2008

enjoying God (2) how God feels about you

It was an unlikely moment for a spiritual revelation.

I was in my mid-twenties, sitting at an oak desk, pencil in hand, heater at my feet, ploughing through John Owen's Communion with God for my PhD.

John Owen was one of the most famous Puritan writers and teachers - he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell and preacher to his armies - but he's not exactly known for his scintillating writing style. Words like "difficult", "dry", and "dense" spring to mind.

I had 13 thick volumes of his collected works to get through, plus another 6 volumes of his commentary on Hebrews (I never did read that!), and it was slow, painstaking work.

But today I was becoming increasingly excited about what I was reading - the wonders of communion with God - when a Bible verse upped and hit me in the face:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Rejoice? With singing? I'd never read about a God like that before. Here's what John Owen had to say:

His heart is glad in us, without sorrow. And every day while we live is his wedding-day…The thoughts of communion with the saints were the joy of his heart from eternity. (p.25 of vol.2 of the Works of John Owen)
Huh? You mean God doesn't love me a little reluctantly? After all, he has to love me, now that Jesus has died for me. And I know my life's a bit of a mess. I keep trying to do what he wants, but failing. I know he's patient, and forgiving, but surely he has to work at it? Surely there are days he gets fed-up with me, and wants out?

Maybe that verse is a one-off? But no, here it is again:

The LORD will take delight in you ... as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:4-5)
And again, and again, and again (Deut. 7:6-8; Psalm 35:27, 149:4; Proverbs 11:20, 12:22; Isaiah 5:7,62:4-5; 65:17-9; Jeremiah 31:20, 32:41).

God rejoices in his people. A joy so profound, it can only be compared to the delight of a bridegroom in his beautiful bride on their wedding night. A joy so exuberant, it can only be expressed through singing, shouting, and dancing. A joy so boundless, that we will swim in the ocean of his delight for all eternity, and never come to the end of it.

1 comment:

mattnbec said...

Thanks, Jean. I've been having some refining moments lately, where the Lord has been revealing my inadequacies. I know it's for my good, and that God disciplines those he loves. I am glad that it it gives me opportunities to grow and be more pleasing to God. But I also find myself feeling kind of a "why does he bother with me?" sort of feeling. So what an encouragement to read this. Thanks.