I can’t believe that almost a month has passed since my last post. I just emptied my spam folder which had accumulated more than 10,300 spam hits. So the site is popular! But probably with the wrong people! Time for a new post.
Being close to Valentine’s Day, I spoke on Young Love again this morning. This is one of my favourite messages because I usually present it in a different place each year, and it usually gets a good response because it is so relevant to people’s lives. It’s based on Song of Solomon 2:1-7 and Revelation 2:1-7. So it includes the idea of romance in marriage but also the “first love” idea in one’s relationship with God. My main point is that just as romance is vital to our marriage relationships so it is also really important in our relationship to God.
The characteristics of romance in marriage include such things as spontaneity, surprise, creativity, and also a sense of sacrificial cost on the part of the one who gives it. Romance laughs at sensibility regarding cost calculation. It is a brief moment in which one abandons more practical aspects of life for the sake of showing affection for someone else. Romance doesn’t necessarily include sexual fulfillment but no doubt that is the ultimate expression of it in marriage.
One of the best illustrations of romance is that moment in which a man proposes marriage to the woman he loves and they become engaged. Typically, the man plans the occasion which will undoubtedly include a non-routine kind of time together. If he is really romantic, he will give a lot of thought to creating the place, the occasion, the words, the atmosphere, and no doubt it will involve a good deal of surprise. And of course, since he is planning to ask the woman to marry her (which in itself involves a huge commitment and expression of self-sacrifice) he will also be prepared to present her with a ring as a token of his promise to marry her. This too will probably involve a good deal, if not all, of his savings for the occasion. It is a most romantic moment for him and for her. He knows what her response will be, but the engagement ritual is very important.
The problem for many couples is that over time, because of practical considerations and a few bumps and bruises in their developing relationship, not to mention the needs of their children, they easily abandon the fine art of romance — much to the impoverishment of their lives and marriage. And sometimes the romantic spark diminishes to the point of near extinction until, sadly, it is rekindled elsewhere. And the lesson we all have to learn in marriage is that romance is not only for engagement, but also should be regular part of our married lives. We need to return often to that place of “first love” in our relationship in order to re-ignite the romantic fire of our marriages so that we can successfully sustain the challenges of marriage and daily life and move forward in accomplishing shared goals.
And so it is in our relationship with God. Since marriage is an illustration of this special relationship with our Creator, open to every person on the planet, we can learn much from God’s intention for marriage that is also applicable to anyone’s relationship with Him. It is important to recognize that there needs to be an element of romance in our relationship with Christ — experiences of fellowship with Him that are out of the ordinary, that are full of surprise on our part, that are creatively planned, and have that element of almost thoughtless self-sacrifice in terms of the cost involved. I can imagine how much God loves it when we pour our hearts out to Him in these ways. It’s clear from Scripture, that He wants more than our routine expressions of service and worship. He wants the kind of response that inspires deep love and obedience to Him. Romance does that!
I must confess that in my heart of hearts, I am a romantic! But the truth is that all of us are like that! All of us yearn for romance — to love and be loved in ways that are fresh, creative, spontaneous, and self-sacrificing. That is why we live! And that is exactly what God wants to give us in our relationship with Him and in our marriages.