Let your religion be less of a theory
and more of a love affair.
—G. K. Chesterton
Love Affair. Those are the two magical words that pulsed in my heart over and over again during our Christmas Eve service this year.
It was a candlelight service, and moisture blurred my eyes as I stood next to the love of my life, singing one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time—O Holy Night. Even now as I write this, tears trail my cheeks and my heart “falls to its knees” at the wonder of Christ in our lives, the inconceivable joy of a love affair with the God of the Universe!
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees, oh hear, hear the angel voices
Oh night divine, oh night when
Christ was born
Standing there worshipping the TRUE “Love of my Life,” I knew that more than anything in the world, I wanted my love affair with God in 2012 to be deeper, more passionate and more profound than ever before. And with every beat of my pulse, the words Love Affair, Love Affair whispered in my ear, telling me that not only was it entirely possible, but that it was exactly what God longed for as well—a love affair with me … and with you!
I have to tell you, my love affair with my husband has surpassed anything I ever dreamed possible. Never did I believe I would ever love a human being to the depths and heights to which I love the man I married. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to you, but I wasn’t all that sure that I “loved” him when I walked down that aisle, God’s truth. Oh, I knew I was happier with him than without him, but love?? That deep-down, soul-wrenching, quivering kind of love? Uh, probably not because you see, I didn’t really know how to love back then when we married 33 years ago. Nope, that was something I had to learn at the foot of God’s throne. And oh my, does our God know how to teach a lesson on love!
As many of you already know, I was raised in a very dysfunctional family where I was ridiculed and picked on a lot, so consequently, I had a pretty hard heart. Never even shed a tear when my mom died when I was sixteen, and as a young woman in her early twenties (before Christ), there were actually Thanksgivings and Christmases I spent alone despite coming from a family of thirteen kids. We’re talking rock-hard emotions here, steeled by bitterness and hate and anger. Until, that is, God got a hold of me at the age of 23 and turned this heart of stone into a heart of flesh. And a weepy one at that, to which many of you who have read my interviews or know me at all, can certainly attest.
“When did you realize you loved Dad,” my daughter asked me several weeks ago. Keith and I looked at each other and I scrunched my nose. “I don’t know … I guess about five or six years ago?” “That sounds about right,” Keith said, his tone as matter-of-fact as mine. My daughter started laughing because she understands that we have one of the best marriages on the planet. “You’re joking,” she said, and Keith and I shook our heads and said, “No, we aren’t.”
You see I’m pretty sure Keith and I have loved each other all of our marriage to some degree, but it was a lifetime of application of God’s precepts in our relationship and lives that caused our marriage—and our love—to grow into what it is today. A truly magical love affair, the kind I write about in my books. So the good news is that, yes, it is possible to have a marriage like that in today’s world. The better news? It’s exactly what God wants for each of us—a passionate love affair, first with Him, and then for those who are married or will be married, with your mate.
So why did my love for Keith suddenly bloom and grow so much six years ago? Interesting question, but I do believe it coincides with my books. The year I wrote A Passion Most Pure, my love for Keith was invigorated through my writing. As I poured all my passion for God and romance into each and every book, I also found myself pouring passion into my marriage. You know, focusing on my husband more, learning to see him once again through the eyes of young love and learning to appreciate him for just who he was.
For instance, there were times when we would go out to dinner that I would pretend we were dating, and I’d sparkle and shine just like it was a new guy I was trying to impress, hanging on to his every word, being affectionate more than usual, laughing at his jokes. Whenever I would do that we would have SUCH a great time that I started to realize that I was energizing my marriage by pouring passion (a strong enthusiasm or interest according to Merriam-Webster) into it. Even when I would write my books, I’d keep a picture of Keith and me when we were engaged right by my computer to remind me just what a hunk I married, to help me see him once again through those eyes of initial attraction. And most importantly of all, I would do what I spent a lifetime doing—I’d pray for God to give me more and more passion and attraction and love for this man that He knit me with. And God is nothing if not faithful. The more I poured into my love affair with my husband—passion, prayer, giving, respect, love—the more exciting and fulfilling our relationship became, which brings me back to my heart and soul desire for 2012: my love affair with God.
So what does a love affair with God look like? Well, I tried to show what it looks like for me in a scene from A Heart Revealed where Emma explains to her young neighbor Casey that God wants a love affair with each of us:
Casey’s eyelids lowered as she shifted in her seat. “But we can’t see or feel God, Emma, so how can you feel his love? I need more than prayers to a God I can’t touch, see, or hear—I want to hear words of love, see kind actions, feel hugs and kisses . . .”
“We all do, Casey, because yes, we’re human beings. But we were made in God’s image.” Drawing in a deep breath, Emma leaned back in her chair, her eyes tender. “Which means, like Father, like daughter. You want to be loved? So does He. You want to be touched? So does He. You want to feel the rush of a kiss or the warmth of a hug?” Tears pricked Emma’s eyes. “So does He. Which is why I rushed to Him when Rory hurt me and my family betrayed me. And you know what? I found a God whose arms were open wide and Whose heart leapt with joy when I called His name. As protective as a mother and as jealous as a lover, this was a God who wanted me for His very own. Me—Emma Malloy! To touch, to bless, to fill with His pleasure.” She swallowed hard, her gaze locked on Casey’s. “Until I overflow, spilling his love on all those around me—treasured possessions of a passionate God.”
A passionate God, indeed. One who longs for our touch, our attention, our smiles, our words of love. To be needed by us, believed in by us and worshiped by us. A Lover Who offers everything our hearts could ever desire in a love affair—someone who is drawn to us, who thinks we are beautiful, who gives of himself to us, who protects and encourages us, makes us smile, laugh and cry with joy. Someone we are worth everything to—even his life. We have all that and more in the God of the Universe and yet at times, we remain lackluster in our devotion to Him. And so my desire for 2012 is to fall madly, passionately and completely in love with my God and to bring Him joy and pleasure and worship every day of my life. Love affair, pure and simple.
For me, that means pouring my passion into worship and prayer and thanksgiving more than ever before. Sparkling and shining when I spend time with Him. Writing Him love notes in a journal or stopping often throughout the day to give Him a “hug” with a heart of gratitude for all He has done in my life. To tell Him I love Him before I open my eyes in the morning and before I close them again in the evening, and peppered throughout every single hour of every single day. To give Him my all … because that’s what He’s given to me. And to you.
No question about it—we are blessed. There are millions of people in the world, but WE are the special ones who have a love affair to end all love affairs. Oh, Lord, please—may we live like it every moment of every day in the year ahead.
NEWSFLASH!!! SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31ST — BRING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH SEEKERVILLE AND WIN, WIN, WIN!!! INCREDIBLE GIVEWAYS SUCH AS CRITIQUES, SIGNED BOOKS, AMAZON AND STARBUCK GIFT CARDS, A 30-MINUTE PHONE CHAT WITH ME AND MORE!!!
The fun begins in Seekerville on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 from midnight to midnight as we usher in 2012 with a full 24 hours of incredible giveaways for readers and writers. We’ll be reviewing the past year and sharing our predictions for the 2012 New Year. No party is complete without our friends. No matter what your time zone we’ll have a party in full swing at www.seekerville.net, so come leave a comment for a chance at a win! Hope to see you there and may 2012 usher in your BEST YEAR EVER!!
Happy New Year!