What does it mean to be in love with God? What is the relationship like? A relationship takes two, right?
Let’s explore this with some short meditations from the book of love in the Bible: Song of Songs.
Draw me, (1:4)
Nobody can come to the Lord unless this person is called, that much is clear from the words of our Lord when He said, “ No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44). The Lord, however also said, “ seek, and ye shall find ” (Matthew 7:7). Putting together these two verses, we understand why the woman in this love relationship is saying “Draw me”; she is seeking the Lord, knowing that she will be drawn by Him. More important, for us, however, is that i f someone is drawn, it means that they were somewhere, and are being taken somewhere else. So, the person being called does not have to be someone who was always righteous – the person being called was away from God’s grace, and it is grace that pulls him.
Understanding this verse explains to us the lives of the repentant Saints. The Strong Saint Moses did not randomly stumble across the loving monk that helped him rob his cell. We are told that this bandit turned desert father was seeking God. He would look at the sun and ask if it was God, and if it was God, to prove it. He was searching, and the Father indeed drew him. So beautiful did Saint Moses find our Lord, that he sacrificed all, simply to live that relationship in the desert.
Saint Mary of Egypt did not by accident flee to the desert either. Again, she was living in sin, and only when she desired to enter the church and could not – when she was seeking the Lord and could not by her own power find Him – did our Lord give Himself to her. She, too, perfected her life in the wilderness, seeing only the face of Saint Zosima who would bring her the Divine hosts.
Only the Lord can draw us, but we can train our will to seek Him, so that we find Him, as promised in the Gospel.
The verse very closely related to this, then, is “ I am black, but comely ” (1:5). While the Lord in mercy and in pure love will draw us, we have no right to boast. After being drawn, the bride (who represents both each individual one of us as well as the Church herself) says she is black. Rather than boast of her own beauty, she confesses that she is black, she is sinful; she is imperfect. She knows she is black because she sins, but she says she is comely because she sees her worth before God. This helps us to understand Saint Paul ’s words, “ For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ ” (Galatians 3:27 ). Who is more comely than the Bridegroom; Christ? We are of value to Him, and hence we are comely in His sight. We are beautiful and valued by Him because we are His creation, because we are formed in His image and likeness. When we gaze at Him and put Him on, then we too can become comely. Like this woman, we need to see the terrible mark that sin leaves upon us and how ugly we are when living in sin. We see our worth before Him that way, and understand that only by being renewed in Him, we can be seen as comely. This is humility, though we should recognize that we are comely always in the sight of the Lord. He loves us despite our impurities and shortcomings.
We can take a strong example from the passion of our Lord in this verse. The Lord of Creation hung upon the Tree of Life. The world saw Him as ugly – He was condemned like a criminal and seen worthy of death. The source of all beauty, the very definition of comeliness, was nailed upon the cross in order to redeem us. He was willing to be black, even though He is comeliness itself. This clarifies for us that we can only be comely when die with Him, when we are baptized and rise again with Him, and put on the Lord Christ (Galatians 3:27 ) in this Sacrament. We can retain this beauty through the Holy Sacrament of Repentance and Confession.
“ If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents . ” (1:8)
Even though the woman has been drawn by the Lord, and knows her worth before Him, she later cannot find Him. The Lord answers her and tells her that if she does not know, she should ask the shepherds. Who are the shepherds? These are our priests, the Holy Orders; these are those who are taking care of us. So, we learn that we cannot be so presumptuous as to think that we know the Bridegroom so well by merely being drawn. We are told to ask these people for guidance, for them to point us in the direction of the Lord. Saint Moses was drawn by the Lord, but he went and asked his shepherd for help (Saint Isidore). Saint Mary of Egypt got help from Saint Zosima. It is not sufficient to be drawn, it is vital that we be guided in order to find Him.
If we have sought Him, He draws us, we view ourselves as black (but comely in Him), and we ask the shepherds, then we can complete the verse, “Draw me, we will run after thee ” (1:4). If we are truly drawn, and if we truly love Him and know where He is, we do not, and cannot keep our love to ourselves. We are so enraptured by the beauty of our relationship with Him, that we are forced to tell others. We need not look far to see that.
When the blessed prophet Isaiah was drawn, the Lord put the coal to his mouth, and Isaiah responded, ‘ send me ’. He was drawn, and he was ready to go and bring all to see our beloved God.
The Samaritan Woman, Saint Photini, did the same. She met God, and could not keep it to herself. She went and brought her entire village to come and see Him!
Saint Paul the Apostle was drawn by the Lord, and he brought to Christ thousands upon thousands as well.
This is a love that supercedes any normal human love, as there is more than enough of it to feel threatened or fear that we will not have as much personal love directed toward us. The love of God is infinite, and it pours out in abundance over each and every single on of us. All people of all generations can share a personal loving relationship with Him, without fear of neglect.
Seek Him, acknowledge your shortcomings, and get guidance. He will draw you near to Him, drawing with you multitudes of others, all bowing before His Holy Name, and in awe at this love relationship which has no bounds.
Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
One thought on “Song of Songs”
Perhaps taking the question of being in love with God to a further extent, what does it mean to be married with God? What does it mean to be the bride? A marriage takes two… and makes them one 🙂