Do you know Him as the jealous God? Few readily embrace Him here. The jealousy of the living God has long caused a bristling and resistance in the hearts of men. Yet ironically, we forget that love always includes jealousy and without it we are left with a nauseating passivity, disinterest and detachment. Our God couldn’t be further from such descriptions. He is unrelentingly near and immersed in the details of our lives. It’s knowing Him in His jealousy that drives out our fears and gives us a life-rope when in the pit of pressures or hardships.
My own storyline has been rewritten many times by the revelation of the Lord’s jealousy. When I was 20 years old, it was His jealousy that brought my fearful heart – zealous, but sure I’d lose my way – to finally find an anchor.
In those days, I wrote:
Little mountain, what are you?
Little ocean, where lies your strength?
If the Hand that formed the Universe holds my heart,
How can man or power take me from Him?
His love leaves the oceans small
And the mountains powerless to separate.
The One Who loves me will not surrender me to another hand
Though all of hell stands in His way.
He will have me. He will keep me.
He will not give me over to any other.
I had thought that I could lose my way
Until I remembered that jealousy keeps me.
He keeps me, and I’m a fool to think
Another could steal what He has called His own.
If the Consuming Fire is ravished by my small heart,
What man of earth, what power of heaven or hell, can keep me from Him?
No mountain He would not conquer, no sea He would not cross.
Foolish I was to fear that all could be lost.
My heart is not kept by my own love,
But by the River of love that flows from His great heart.
I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.
His Jealousy so Sensitive
Today, sixteen years later, His jealousy leaves me breathless once again. Yet on this day, it is not in its strength that takes my breath, but in its utter sensitivity. In His jealousy is a sensitivity so attentive to every breach in love, a sensitivity so strong it allows for testings and refinings in its beloved so that love might be perfected.
Because He refuses every shade of distance or resistance, every unlikeness and impurity, He will not overlook or disengage from any detail in me. This sensitivity is the fueling force behind all of my days, both bitter and sweet.
A pure and spotless bride and people He has promised Himself – the vow between Father and Son. Blameless. Made worthy. Holy. Hearts that refuse to quit loving Him though tested by fire. This sensitivity is in fact His jealousy – His refusal that we would be shared in any way or divided in any measure in our affections for Him.
Love Perfected in Fiery Testings
My breath stops short in my chest today as I consider that even that which causes my heart pain is in fact ruled by the upper hand of His jealousy. If He was not so sensitive in His care of every faintest impulse and affection, He might consent to lift me right above such difficulties. But His jealousy – so sensitive to every little murmuring of my soul, wouldn’t have it.
Difficult circumstances come to every heart and as Jesus said, we are not without troubles in this world. How many are the ways for a heart to fall into the traps set within such trials. Bitterness. Offense. Disillusionment. Doubt. Fear. A thousand possible pitfalls rise to the occasion if we will but stumble into their open arms.
And because pain and hurt are real and tears fall with real tearings of the heart, how easily we fall prey to any number of these snares set so mercilessly along our path. And if not careful, how justified we feel for such stumbling.
Yet we forget. How quickly we forget. We forget what we said we would remember – that His banner over us is love, and that He leads us according to love. If not for the jealous love of the Lord to win over our hearts utterly and completely, He might deliver us from trials such as these. It would be loving us too little to deliver us so fast.
Deeper love is born in places such as these.
Thus, our invitation in these times is not to sink into self-pity’s pull or stiffen in offense’s cold, but to plunge deeper into love’s covenant of trust, to say yes to jealous flame, and to believe that love will win. For no matter the trouble, no matter the pain, and though there’s so much we don’t understand, wherever love is yielded to, love will surely win.
With this fixed gaze upon His jealousy, in all its unrelenting sensitivity, today I add these new words to the song I’ll forever sing of His love:
Beneath the Banner of His Jealousy
When darkness veils His lovely face,
When losses multiply,
I strain my eyes to see
His banner waving high.
Tensions mount as offenses knock,
My heart, torn in the testings.
Yet truth weighs in with heavy insight,
He could have softened the blows, but He didn’t.
Clouds hover low and tempest flies,
Yet higher still is that soaring sign:
His banner of love’s leading and love’s victory.
Though questions flood and fears billow in,
Nothing flies higher than this promise in the heavens.
Love will win for love is leading.
I catch the faintest glimpse
Of banner soaring in highest skies,
And my heart leaps in present fight.
No matter the grey this day holds,
No matter the arrows that fly,
There is a higher truth
Making its claim in the skies.
Though wounds and testings are real,
And though my tears stream freely,
All is somehow embraced and warmed
By the fires of His jealousy.
For the sake of love, He’s all consuming.