While traveling on February 13, somewhere between Forks and Port Angeles, Washington, I passed a sign on a church that said “Let Jesus be your valentine.” I used to get quite annoyed with people who said things like, “Until I get married, Jesus is my boyfriend,” or “Jesus is better than any earthly boyfriend I could have anyway.” One year someone anonymously mailed me a valentine letter that was signed from Jesus and which talked about how much He loved me (with supporting verses, probably). I appreciated the Jesus valentine from a theoretical perspective, but at the time it seemed to have been sent because I was single and thus with the unwritten addendum that a valentine from Jesus was the best I was going to do that year. Perhaps this whole genre of thinking gets under my skin because it’s equivalent to saying, “Jesus loves those who are too hopeless to have a real boyfriend/valentine” – it seems as if only those without a “real” valentine are the ones who are told to look to Jesus around this time of year.

I started a new study with some women at church on January 12 and our teacher, Bettie, challenged us to ask God for a word for the year. This word would be something about which He desired to teach us and it would be a theme for each of us for the year. She described her method, about which she said there is nothing scientific: You ask God to show you a word, open your Bible at random and start reading, and the word should jump out at you from the reading. From there the word may be confirmed through your mental or emotional reaction to it and even through repetition in the days to follow. Some people in our class got words such as fear or praise, others got words like respect. My word? Lover. No, not love. It was lover. Like “lov-ah.”

Lamentations 1:1-4 (NASB) says,

How lonely sits the city what was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer! She weeps bitterly in the night and her tears are on her cheeks; she has none to comfort her among all her lovers. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile under affliction and under harsh servitude; She dwells among the nations, but she has found no rest; All her pursuers have overtaken her in the midst of distress. The roads of Zion are in mourning because no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests are groaning. Her virgins are afflicted. And she herself is bitter.

So why did “lovers” in the second verse jump out at me? Not a clue. Yet, since that word jumped out at me, it has, as Bettie predicted, come up over and over in things I’ve heard, seen, and read.

A dear friend gave me the Tenth Avenue North CD for Christmas and it contains a song called “Beloved” that has become quite special to me:

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
Give me your life
Lust and the lies
The past you’re afraid I might see
You’ve been running away from me

You’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our love it unites us
It binds you to me
It’s a mystery

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
I’m the giver of life
I’ll clothe you in white
My immaculate bride you will be
Oh come running home to me

You’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
and Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our love it unites is
and it binds you to me

Well you’ve been a mistress, my wife
Chasing lovers that won’t satisfy
Won’t you let me make you my bride
You will drink of my lips
And taste new life

Cause You’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
and Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our love it unites is
and it binds you to me

You’re my beloved
Forever we’ll be
Our love it unites us
It binds you to me
It’s a mystery

I’m interested to see exactly what God teaches me about “lover” this year. I made the subtitle of this blog “A journey with the lover of my soul…” because that seemed a little less startling than saying, “A journey with my lover….” It’s the latter, though, that I think I’m going to be learning more about this year. Not that He isn’t the lover of my soul, I simply believe it’s going to be a bit more intimate than that… and I don’t believe it will be in a “Jesus is my substitute valentine” sort of way.  Stay tuned.

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