V Day: When roses are dead, and Romance is too...
By Kara Ranck
My mind wandered back this week to the days before I had a Valentine. My thoughts also turned to friends who are facing this holiday alone and some who are celebrating for the first time after many years of waiting. I haven't forgotten how challenging it was to face a holiday about romantic love when I had yet to share romantic love with another. It's not that I wanted to be in a relationship just so I'd have someone to celebrate the holiday with, but Valentine's highlighted what was missing in my life leading to feelings of sadness, hurt, and isolation. Then in 2011, I finally had a Valentine, and he was worth the wait. This week on our Valentine's date, we remarked how the holiday day has become less romantic over the last nine and a half years of our relationship.
If we are looking for romantic love to become more outwardly extravagant with time, my guess is 99.9% of the time we'll reap disappointment. Why? The most important thing I've learned between single white female and married with kids is that my marriage—and every other relationship—is just a shadow of the true relationship I long for. My relationships with other humans will range from totally missing the target to just shy of hitting the bullseye of perfection, but will always miss the mark.
As my fiancé and I went through premarital counseling many years ago, I was deeply drawn to the metaphor Christ uses in scripture of his Church being the Bride and he the Bridegroom. In Genesis, God creates Adam and Eve to be in relationship with him. Creator and created walked together in the garden. There was the potential for perfect relationship.
And then temptation came, the woman doubted that God had her best interest in mind—that he loved her—and she was unfaithful to him. She also encouraged her husband Adam to be unfaithful. Because of this, those descended from Adam and Eve—me and you—are now born with the same spirit of unfaithfulness.
And yet our Creator and God still loves us and pursues us in our unfaithfulness. In scripture, this is poetically described by the prophet Hosea as God calls him to marry a prostitute and faithfully pursue her despite persistent adultery. It is a metaphor for the relationship of God to his people. We see it in the nation of Israel, God's chosen people, when they give themselves again and again to false gods and other nations and yet the Lord continues to care for them.
While we see examples of unfaithfulness and adultery of people towards God, it is always contrasted with the faithfulness and trust worthiness of the Lord towards his people. The climax—the greatest proof—that God never leaves or forsakes his people is Christ. The Groom himself came in flesh to purchase his unfaithful Bride, dying for her on the cross and rising to life again. He made the way for us to turn from our unfaithful spirit and receive his own Spirit of faithfulness so we can again be in relationship with him now and in the future.
Jesus himself speaks of the Groom returning for his Bride in the gospels (Mt 22, 25). The Apostle Paul speaks of marriage being an illustration of Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). And we see in Revelation, the consummation of the relationship of God to his people, the Groom to his Bride, to happen in the future.
Here's a taste of what that indescribable celebration will look like in Revelation 19:
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Any lavish Valentine's gifts will pale in comparison to the gift of our Groom. All other weddings will fade from our memories, and the reception feast will be out of this world! For those that experience healthy love here on earth, that will be just an appetizer for the greatest love ever known. And for those that have walked through difficult romantic relationships, this everlasting love will wipe every tear from your eye. This is a love we can all celebrate today and look forward to tomorrow, no matter our current relationship status. The love God has for his people always hits the mark. It's a love that only grows in depth and extravagance. It is forever faithful! May you know that love today and everyday.
For Your Earbuds
"Love" Song Playlist:
1. Beloved by Tenth Avenue North (My favorite! I walked down the aisle to this song.)
2. Divine Romance by Phil Wickham
3. He's Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves
4. You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham
5. Never Once by Matt Redman