I start with this gem from A.W. Tozer:
“God has a voluntary relation to everything he has made, but he has no necessary relation to anything outside of himself…to God alone nothing is necessary….Any motion in His direction is elevation for the creature; away from Him, descent.” –from Knowledge of the Holy
I love this idea of God as a constant, a fixed, all-sufficient, perfect force of love who chooses, who actually volunteers to deal with us in our fallen, broken state. He who loves us before we are good, loves us as we grow throughout our pilgrimage with him on the earth, and will love us when we are ultimately perfected. As a good, good Father, he’s committed to the whole process.
We are the variables in the relationship equation. Sometimes we turn toward, sometimes we turn away, sometimes we even turn against him. When we are turned away, pursuing other lovers (i.e. idols), he waits and watches for the moment of turning. That moment when the prodigal gets his or her head out of the muck and turns toward home. But even before that moment he volunteers to care. He is the one who lures us back, sometimes by compelling us to deal with our pain, rebellion, and emptiness. As the Lord speaks through Hosea about the harlot Israel:
“I will fence her in with thorn bushes. I will block the road to make her lose her way. When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch up with them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, because I was better off with him than I am now.’” (Hos. 2:6-8).
Incredible to know of this kind of mercy, and even more incredible to experience it on a personal level.
We have a God who needs nothing, who certainly has no need to fellowship with wretched humanity. The grounds for continued engagement in his heroic volunteer project will ever be a mystery. But I believe that a part of the explanation is in the way he created us. Remember that at the beginning we were perfect images of his goodness and glory. He looked at Adam and Eve and declared them “very good.” He liked what he had formed, made, and created. It was the acme of his creativity.
So, when it all went to excrement, he didn’t trash us. He made provision for our atonement. And then he kept on volunteering—keeps on volunteering–putting in immeasurable hours, over thousands of generations, to restore and redeem those who choose to turn to him. Not because he has to, but because evidently he wants to, and he continues relentlessly to show up. We can become shiny reflectors of him again.
Lord, I turn toward you. When I am enticed by my flesh, or the world, or the devil, nudge me quickly so I turn back. You are my only true, eternal love.
I can think of many times when I turned away, and the Lord blocked the way to something that could do serious damage to my love relationship with him. I came to my senses and repented. Then I was even more ravished by his voluntary, all-consuming devotion to me. Can you relate?