“My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psalm 45:1) Two of my favorite Christian books are The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer and Desiring God by John Piper. But after our recent 40-day sabbatical Kristen and I experienced, at a much deeper level, God’s passionate desire for us and His relentless pursuit of us. “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” (Psalm 23:6 The Message) “Yes, we love him because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16) And of course this is true for every person God has ever created. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Once God created mankind in His own image He became emotionally bonded with us and was prepared from eternity past to pay the high cost of buying us back from the slave block of sin by paying the ultimate price, the lifeblood of His One and Only Begotten Son. (John 3:16) Thus we are twice-owned and doubly-loved by God; created by God in love and redeemed by God in love, and it is man’s temporal and eternal misery to spurn and reject the passionate love of God. But even we as blood-bought saints who have received His redeeming love and are headed for an eternity of bliss in heaven with Him, can spend so much of our life unaware of God’s passionate love for us and thus be unresponsive to it. “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4) To avoid this we must know and experience God as the ultimate masculine Lover constantly pursuing us and calling us to spend time with Him in loving fellowship. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) “When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” (Psalm 27:8) When we take the time to receive and experience His love and return it, then there is nothing on earth that compares to it in giving us soul-satisfying joy and there is no sorrow in our life that can take it away from us. “Many waters cannot quench love neither can floods drown it.” (Song of Songs 8:11) As George Mueller said, “The first thing I must do every morning is to get my soul happy in the Lord.” (See Psalm 90:14) This is the fuel of our spiritual life and our spiritual life is everything. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)
One of the images/metaphors the Lord uses throughout Scripture to show us our great need and desire to receive His passionate love is the image of thirsting for water. Physical thirst creates an intense desire/need for water. One morning during our sabbatical I was crying out to the Lord and casting my cares upon Him and I began to weep. I was surprised at the intensity of it and began to ask the Lord what was going on. After several hours of prayer I felt like the Lord said that the root of my pain was coming from my deep and intense spiritual thirst for Him. That what I was longing for was a greater revelation of how much He loved me. And then the Scriptures regarding thirst and water began to flood into my mind and God began to pour out His love on me in a new and deeper way and I drank it in like a man dying of thirst. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2) “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38) And when we experience God’s love for ourselves, His living water flows out through us to others. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
One of the resources the Lord used on our sabbatical and one I highly recommend, is a book by Chris Tiegreen called Feeling like God – “the emotional side of discipleship and why you can’t fully follow Jesus without it.” Tiegreen builds an argument from Scripture (not his personal experiences alone) that God reveals his deep emotions throughout the Scriptures, both deep sorrow (e.g., Jesus weeping over Lazarus and Jerusalem) and deep joy (the dancing God in Luke 15) and that to really know God we must know His emotions and share our emotions with Him very personally and regularly. In other words, unless we connect with God emotionally we cannot have a deep bond with Him. Likewise unless we connect with people emotionally we cannot have a deep bond with them. Furthermore, we have deeper emotional bonds with people that care about the same things that we care about. And if we are in line with God’s emotions we will care deeply about people and their need for God and their love for God and share our spiritual needs and longings with them very personally. My daughter Ashley gave me a plaque that said, “True friendship divides our sorrows and doubles our joys.” But we must share both our sorrows and our joys with our friends and loved ones in order for this to be true.
I sense that the Lord may want me to share more of this revelation with you, so I may continue to write on this in my future newsletters. But let me close this letter with one of Kristen’s many beautiful and Scriptural poems about God’s passionate love for us.
The intensity of Love divine
White-hot the inextinguishable flame
Jealousy inseverable as death’s chains
Unyielding as the graveyard’s claim.
Flesh on the fire in sacrifice
Bind to the pyre self’s artifice
The fragrant smoke up-rising
Love its incense prizing
Naught remains for exhuming
Held in arms of relentless passion
Intent in its desire to fashion
A virgin bride
Devoid of pride
Changing water into wine.
The immensity of Love divine
Height and depth
Width and breadth
Eternal in its lasting; infinite in size
The temporal forgot; it the prize
which if be offered the utmost wealth
to obtain Love’s excellence
utterly would scornèd be; rightly so,
Love incomparable to a bid so low.
Deluge of waters cannot immerse
The endless span of Love’s universe
It unfailing; lasting its clasp
All else paling; glory unsurpassed.
Love is delighted
God and man united
Forever Love says “Mine.”
July 2008 Kristen Sykes
In His love, Len and Kristen
Enjoy a great audio message on the Song of Songs at link below. There is a 10 second delay after clicking on the message to begin.