I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.
Song of Song
We will draw our identity from outside ourselves; the question is, from whom? In the End, it will be from those moments and those people with whom we’ve had the biggest impact. Think again about Helen of Troy. Why “of Troy”? Wasn’t she really Helen of Greece, Menelaus’s wife? In calling her “Helen of Troy” we are forever reminded of the impact she had on the Mediterranean world of the tenth century b.c. She is not Helen the Beauty or Helen Like No Other Woman. Those are qualities she could possess alone.
No, she is Helen of Troy, which really means something like Helen the Fought Over, Helen the Captive and Rescued, Helen the Pursued. Her identity is inseparable from her relationships; it has been bestowed upon her. Maybe she enjoyed the attention, maybe not. Perhaps in the end she merely played the part of the rare art object, stolen from Menelaus’s palace to be put on display in Troy. I hope that someone in all those thousands was pursuing her for her heart. But whatever else she felt, as the center of an international crisis Helen must have known beyond a shadow of a doubt that she mattered.
The gospel says that we, who are God’s beloved, created a cosmic crisis. It says we, too,
were stolen from our True Love and that he launched the greatest campaign in the history
of the world to get us back. God created us for intimacy with him. When we turned our
back on him he promised to come for us. He sent personal messengers; he used beauty
and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring
of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient
of Days disguised as a newborn. The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a
daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and
we were held in the dungeons of darkness. God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it
that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom
of darkness and on our own idolatries as if on Troy—not to annihilate, but to win us once
again for himself? This fierce intention, this reckless ambition that shoves all conventions aside,willing literally to move heaven and earth—What does he want from us?
We’ve been offered many explanations. From one religious camp we’re told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or selfactualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern. What he is after is us—our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts. Remember his lament in Isaiah, that though his people were performing all their duties, “their hearts are far from me” (29:13 italics added). How few of us truly believe this. We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our truest self, not really, not for long. The thought that God wants our heart seems too good to be true.
Sacred Romance is written by by Brent Curtis & John Eldridge