Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I know because every commercial break on the radio includes a spot for either 1-800-FLOWERS or Shari’s Berries (usually both). It’s that time of the year when we tell that special someone just how much we love them. And you know who that special someone is, don’t you? Can you close your eyes and picture that special someone right now?
Be honest – when I say “special someone,” do you envision Buddy the Elf shopping for lingerie for his estranged father? I certainly hope so. If it’s not the image you have in your head, click here…you’re welcome.
What are the four most loving words you can say to express your love to that special someone? You are probably thinking, “I Love You !” But how are you filling in the blank?
- I Love You (fill in their name and make it personal)
- I Love You Too (reciprocate their love for you)
- I Love You Sweetheart (use a playful pet name)
If you answered any of the above, you are saying very nice, meaningful things to someone else; but in regards to my question you are WRONG! You didn’t even get one word right!
(Please don’t be mad at me…I Love You Reader!)
My wife and I recently completed a fantastic bible study from Angie Smith and Lifeway called “Seamless.” (Yes I know it’s a study for women, but truth is truth!) It basically goes through the entire Bible in 6 weeks (ambitious much?) and reveals how the Bible—from beginning to end—is truly one complete and Seamless story.
As I was going through a lesson in the first week, I was reminded of the beginnings of a thought concerning God’s love that had been bouncing around in my mind for some time. Suddenly it became a bit clearer to the point where it could finally be articulated.
We looked at how Adam and Eve were hiding from God after they did the one thing God told them not to do (seriously, just one thing). God then asked, “Where are you?” but of course He knew exactly where they were. As Angie points out, “He’s God. He knows all things, so He isn’t actually trying to figure out where they’ve gone.”
Later in that same lesson, we read in Genesis 6:5-8 that in light of the fact that every inclination of the thoughts of man’s heart was bent on evil all the time, God was grieved that He had made people. And who could blame Him really? In the words of Jerry Seinfeld regarding people, “they’re the worst!”
What in the world does all this have to do with the Love of God? Let’s put the two together. 1-God is God. He’s omniscient; knowing all things. In other words, nothing surprises Him. 2-The grief God feels over creating humanity did not come as a shock to Him; He was expecting it.
Still don’t get it? Bear with me…
Let’s not confuse God’s grief with surprise or regret. Regret implies a mistake was made. God doesn’t make mistakes. God doesn’t say, “Oops.” God doesn’t get surprised. God doesn’t regret and have second-thoughts after the fact. (On a very important side note, God made you, right? If God made you, and God doesn’t make mistakes, then you are not a mistake. You were made by God, just as you are, with purpose. Remember that.)
You see, when God created us He already knew the extent to which man’s wickedness would rise and the resulting emotions He would experience along the way.
The movie, 127 Hours, is the true story of adventurous mountain climber, Aron Ralston. One day Aron went canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah. While exploring a canyon, he managed to get his arm pinned between two boulders and couldn’t get out. After three or four days of trying to survive, hoping someone would find and rescue him, he realized no one was coming. Unless he was able to somehow free himself from the rocks (and soon), death was inevitable.
With this in mind (spoiler alert), Aron was able to free himself by severing the crushed part of his arm. He cut his own arm off. I can’t imagine it was an easy choice to make. But I’m positive he believed it to be the right choice to make. In that moment of decision, Aron was probably sure of two things:
- It would be a painful experience.
- It would be worth it.
These are the same two things those seeking to lose weight and get healthy again must consider. They are the same two things most women consider when deciding whether or not to have a child and experience childbirth. And they are the same two things God must have had to consider before the beginning.
The purpose of creation as described in Rev 19:6-9 is a divinely intimate and completely unfettered relationship between God and humanity as pictured in the wedding feast of the Lamb. This is what it’s all about: God abundantly pouring out a supernatural love that by its very nature must be expressed, enjoyed and experienced. (And that’s exactly what we had for about five seconds before we traded it for a bite of apple.) The question before God was, “will the likely painful experience along the way be worth the relationship?”
- For that relationship to happen, the bride of Christ – the church – must be cleansed of their sin in order to be able to approach the throne of God to enjoy intimacy with Him. (Eph 5:25-27)
- For the bride to be able to finally approach the Bridegroom, Jesus must be raised from the dead, conquering death once and for all. (1 Pet 1:3-5)
- For the Resurrection to happen, Jesus—God the Son—must first be tortured, beaten, mocked and crucified. (Lk 18:31-33)
- For Jesus to be in a position to die our death in His own body, He must leave the side of the Father in heaven and humble Himself to the form of a man on earth. (Phil 2:5-8)
- Before the time is right for the coming of Christ, the kingdom of Israel must experience hundreds upon hundreds of years of ups and downs; close times with God and (unfortunately) times of estrangement and exile. (Insert just about OT book here)
- For there to even be a kingdom of Israel in the first place, the nation of Israel must leave Egypt and find its way to the Promised Land. (Ex 3:7-8)
- Before an exodus from Egypt is possible, Israel must be strangers in a country not their own where they will endure bitter slavery and servitude at the hands of ruthless Egyptian pharaohs for four hundred years. (Gen 15:13, Ex 12:40)
- However, there would be no Israel at all unless there was first a man of faith to believe in God’s promises. (Gen 15:6)
- That man, Abraham, wouldn’t exist unless God found at least one other righteous man, Noah, to preserve for Himself as He flooded the earth to wipe it clean of the all-consuming wickedness with which the devil had inundated the hearts of men. (Gen 6:9)
- Yet before the flood would be necessary, God would have to watch His children spiral downward; victims to the consequences of the Fall and the curse upon creation. (Gen 6:5-8)
- Prior to that, God would have to watch His very first two children become utterly deceived by Satan, who would rob Adam and Eve of a close, intimate relationship with God – the very thing they were created for in the first place. (Gen 3:6-7)
- And before all of that, God would have to decide whether to speak His creative words or let them remain unsaid thereby saving Himself from all the heartache and pain that was surely to follow Adam and Eve’s fateful decision.
Would it even be worth it at all?
Of course, being omniscient, God knew all this in advance. None of it would come as a surprise. The potential heartache associated with creation wasn’t a matter of “it could happen.” It was a matter of “it will happen.”
People get married even though they know heartache will follow. People have children even though they know heartache will follow. We still do it because we hope the heartache will be minimized and the joy will be maximized. God doesn’t hope that. In fact, God doesn’t hope.
The apostle Paul said, “hope that is seen is no hope at all (Rom 8:24).” God doesn’t hope because He already sees it. He knows the heartache won’t be minimized. He sees His children falling prey to the enemy mere moments after they are created. He sees His mangled Son, bloodied and beaten, hanging on a cross. He sees so many people flat out rejecting Him, choosing death over life, exchanging the glory of God for idols. He already knows everything that will happen as a result of His choice.
But He also knows us. He already sees us. Remember, we are not mistakes. God knows what will happen between the beginning and the end and believes that not only will the end result be worth it at the wedding feast of the Lamb, but the journey to get there will be as well. He knows that in spite of all the devil’s schemes, Love will not be denied His opportunity to reign in full and glorious expression throughout the process of history.
In the beginning, as the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters and the earth was formless and empty with darkness covering the surface of the deep, I can imagine the Father bowing His head, eyes closed, pondering all this.
After a moment of divine deliberation among the Trinity, the decision probably wasn’t come to lightly, but certainly unanimously. With a cleansing breath, God lifted His head and opened His eyes. He knew what He was about to do would be excruciatingly painful at times, exceedingly good at others and ultimately—beyond the shadow of a doubt—incomparably worth it all. Finally, the uncontainable, irrepressible Love of God could wait no longer. The Father opened His mouth letting the Word come forth, with unwavering determination and resolve, to speak the four most loving words ever spoken: “Let There Be Light…”