To Have and To Hold

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Lindsey’s post last week left me in awe of the power of God over the devastation that plagues our lives. That word Hallelujah resonated within me all week and conjured up a sense of hope and anticipation. Echoes of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus rang loudly in my heart with all its grand crescendos and left me on tiptoes hoping to catch a glimpse of the Source and Recipient of all praise! Images of the grandness of King Jesus flooded my mind and once again I felt overwhelmed that He would call me His Beloved.

Speaking of royalty…can I confess that I tuned in (with a billion of my closest friends) over the weekend for the much-anticipated wedding of Prince Harry and the beautiful Meghan Markle. What is it about royal weddings? Okay, really…what is it about weddings? We turn to mush and we sit captivated by every glance, fashion detail, and attendee. We relish all the back stories and the events leading up to this spectacular moment. We lean in, we focus all our attention and we wait for those endearing and personal promises made in front of friends, family, and God.

Yes, we are still talking about wholeness and the deep need to belong, to be known and loved fully and to be cherished. Why does a wedding trigger those longings in each of us? Because my dear friend, we were created for intimacy. We were created by an incredibly intimate God and He hard-wired us for close relationships. From the beginning of creation, it was this way…

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18

Sin may have fractured our ability to experience perfect intimacy with God and others but it did not destroy the desire for these deep and meaningful relationships. We have all been guilty of looking for this closeness, this unconditional love, and acceptance in other people, places and pursuits. However, every attempt either has or is or will leave us unsatisfied ultimately. The joy and peace that come with being known and loved fully reach their climax in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is why we sit spellbound at a wedding, marveling at the beautiful bride and the handsome groom. This is why we tear up when they look at each other and make long-lasting promises to one another. Something wells up within us and our heart longs for that promise to be made to us again today.Will you love me no matter what? Will you stay with me forever? Will you support me when I am sick or poor? Can we grow old together?

I have been really blessed to witness a lot of good and godly marriages. In fact, our oldest daughter will get married in the fall of this year. I have wept over marriages that have disintegrated before my eyes and I have begged God to heal hearts that have been crushed by betrayal. But, I have never in my life seen God abandon one of His Beloved. Even when the people have committed every type of sin, ignoring His love and pursuing the love of others, He remains faithful!

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Throughout the Old and New Testaments, you will find countless passages recounting people who scorned the Lord’s love, disobeyed His laws and suffered great heartache due to their rebellious nature. And yet Romans 5:20sums up God’s response…

“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”

 

If you are reading this and that craving for intimacy is welling up in your heart and the lump is in your throat, I want to encourage you, dear friend. Jesus Christ knows every thought you have ever had (good, bad, and scary), He knows everything you have ever done (good, bad, crazy, or illegal) and He still looks at you and says, “Oh precious one, in Me alone will you find the love you’ve always wanted!”

It’s His loving kindness that we crave because if the perfect, holy God and Creator of the universe can know us completely and love us because of Jesus, then every other love is icing on the cake! (Pun intended) In Jesus’ death and resurrection, God made a covenant with us, His Spirit is our wedding ring (the guarantee that we are His-Ephesians 1:13-14) and we can know that He will neverever be unfaithful, He will never ever betray us (even when we are baffled by His actions) and He will neverever leave us.

“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

and his righteousness to children’s children,

to those who keep his covenant

and remember to do his commandments.

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,

and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:17-18

All this, beckons the question, have you ever said, “Yes!” to God’s proposal? He provides the white gown, the crown of righteousness and the ring of promise. He has pledged His steadfast love to us, but are we willing to accept it?

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:6-10

If you have said, “Yes!” to Jesus, are you walking in covenant with Him? Do you cling to Him in the “better or worse” for “richer or poorer,” and “in sickness or in health”? Often times we want Him to be there for us but we abandon Him at the slightest trial. By His grace, let us hold onto Him who so powerfully holds onto us.

Lastly, there is something even more spectacular about our covenant with Jesus! Death doesn’t negate the promise of His relationship with us. There is no “til death do us part” of this covenantal relationship!! Actually, our earthly death is the very moment that the child of God beholds their Beloved face to face. The veil of our humanity is lifted and our eyes meet His and all the glimpses of love our hearts have treasured up will be wholly manifested in His face!

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

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