This beautiful sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning has been one of my favorites since I first read it oh, so many years ago. Who wouldn't want to be loved this much or feel this depth of love for another? I know how much I love my husband and I know he loves me with all his might. Yet it pales in comparison to the Love of God.
About 3 this morning I woke to the irritating call of mother nature and as usual had a hard time nestling back into slumber. As I tossed on my bed, breathed in the night air and felt the cooling breeze circulate our bedroom, I heard a whisper came with it.... "do you love me?.... do you desire me?" and then, softly, tenderly, "come back to me, my love."
It wasn't my husband, deep in slumber beside me. I knew instinctively this was the Holy Spirit, taking my pulse. For some time now I've been feeling stagnant. It happens every now and again. I struggle with my daily bible reading, with praying, soon followed by trouble with writing things of significance, or pursuing a life of excellence. I'm sure lots of others have experienced this a time or two. We get caught up in 'stuff' and allow our worldly busyness to distract us from what really matters.
It's no coincidence that this would follow on the heels of starting a new bible reading program. We've started a new sermon series at church and (I love this) daily assigned readings for each day of the week to compliment the sermon series. We're spending the next few weeks looking at the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. We've started with Hosea. He was a prophet told by God to marry a prostitute and LOVE HER UNCONDITIONALLY as a way to illustrate God's Faithful Love for His people despite their unfaithfulness.
In our church program was a little checklist that I wanted to avoid answering as soon as my eyes fell upon it. It asked.... "HOW IN LOVE ARE YOU WITH JESUS TODAY?" and it was broken down into categories regarding spending time in prayer and in the word, and sharing with others about him. I knew I didn't want to take this little quiz right then because I knew my answers would be sad and depressing. I knew I was struggling and I knew I needed this as a little wake up call -- or spiritual pulse checking.
As I snuggled deeper under the covers last night, yearning for sleep to overtake me once again, I found myself whispering back to the quiet voice that had called me. "yes, yes I love you, but I want to love you more..... I want my desire for you to be reignited.... have your way with me Lord, work on my heart and my spirit even as I sleep...."
I feel back asleep within seconds of breathing this prayer and when I got up this morning, despite the pre-coffee fogginess of my brain and the un-stretched muscles of my body, I knew my prayer had been answered. Once hubby was off to work I settled into my chair with my coffee and my bible and drank in both my beverage and His Word. It was no coincidence that the reading this morning included this passage from Chapter 6 of Hosea.
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth. ”
How Faithful is our God, that He loves like that! Despite my unfaithfulness and my forgetfulness, no matter how many times I stray or fall down or fail, He is there to pick me up, set me back on the path and hold my hand and guide me once again to the green pastures, the refreshing waters, the soul restoring places. He offers restoration and life to all who seek and ask.