The Merciful Wooing of God

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on October 16, 2019. You can find it here.)

Women have longed for romance since the beginning of time. (Small wonder: the first words spoken to us from human lips were lyrics of a love song.) Something deep in us thrills at the chase, whether it’s being pursued or being the pursuer. 

Weddings—the ultimate celebration of romance—are crucial to the storyline of Scripture. The Bible opens with a wedding, and it closes with a wedding. We find ourselves in between altars, as it were, descendants of the first to say “I do” and anticipating the day when we as a collective Bride will commit the same to our King Jesus. 

In the meantime, we’re being wooed.

‘Woo’ isn’t a word we hear much anymore. Google considers it a dated term meaning ‘try to gain the love of (someone), especially with a view to marriage.’ While the word itself might bring stiff Victorian gentlemen to mind, the idea it embodies still packs theaters full every weekend. Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy chases girl. Boy wins girl’s heart. (More muscles and explosions are involved in some films than others, but even good man movies include a love interest worth romancing. Braveheart. Star Wars. Top Gun. Rocky. Batman.)

Humans revolve around this chase, so the fact that we’re being wooed isn’t that big a deal. The fact that we’re being wooed by God? That’s newsworthy.

The Maker and Sustainer of cosmoses we don’t even know about has fixed His eye on us. Our tiny, insignificant frames have caught His attention, and He is in hot pursuit. Why? 

No clue.

It’s certainly not because we’re fabulously successful. We get creative in how we can mess the world (and ourselves) up. It’s not because we’re brilliant. The wisest person to have ever lived couldn’t come close to comprehending the depths of the mind of God. Maybe because we’re so lovable? Nope, not our destruction-prone, rebellious, hostile, pirate selves.

By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense. That’s what makes it merciful.

Rather than sending us to the gallows, God has placed His abundant favor on us, ridiculous as we are on our own, and has made up His mind to chase us down and win our hearts. He does so at the greatest personal cost (by going to the gallows Himself), but He wins in the end.

This is great big news for us, friends, and infuses everything with hope: the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can’t experience a sunset dripping with colors you’d forgotten existed without the King taking your hand in His, daydreaming about His future with you. That friendship you abandoned when things got difficult? He’s there, too, promising to be the greatest Friend in your place, pouring forgiveness over you and making you right. And He’s been waiting for you in the doctor’s office, storing up comfort for your soul to battle the news about that diagnosis. “You’re not alone,” He whispers, and pulls you close to His chest. 

We don’t have a Hero who wastes one treasure or trial. He’s well-practiced at turning ashes into beauty in a billion different ways, all designed to romance our undeserving souls into a glorious forever with Him. What a mercy. What a romance. What a God.

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