A few days ago, I was sitting at my desk returning various emails and updating various web-type things when my phone vibrated. I picked it up expecting a text from one of my children that they had forgotten their lunch or at the very least a text from a friend with a funny gif.
Instead I opened my phone and found this text from my husband,
“I think you’re beautiful and I can’t wait to see your face later.”
I looked around this text to see what had earned this sentiment. It resided in the usual lineup of texts back and forth from my husband saying, “Did you pick up child A?” “I’m going to the archery range on Saturday so I’ll be MIA.” and “Do we need milk?”
Nothing. Nothing precipitated this reflection on my beauty. Nothing seemed to trigger or spur on this kind and thoughtful gesture. It was an out-of-nowhere affection in the middle of a very run-of-the-mill day.
And it felt good. I started to work a little faster so I could prepare for my husband’s arrival home later that day. I caught myself daydreaming of his smile framed by that ridiculously puffy beard. I was smiling like a fool at my computer screen and thankful no one could see me on the other side. What was I, 38 going on 15?!
This is the power of pursuit. The power of knowing you are wanted, not just valued, but worth going after. My husband and I rarely operate on pursuit level. We operate on get-er-done level. There are people to take places and things to be organized for this life to run smoothly. His simple text served to remind me that pursuing cannot be forgotten.
The Song of Songs serves to teach us that love and life hold many stages and transitions. Each stage is not better than the last, nor is any particularly worse, less interesting, or vibrant. They each have its purpose, its intricacies, its frustrations, its turmoil, and its excitement.
We tend to apply pursuit liberally in early love. In our dating culture we expect one or both parties to ask for time spent together. We get creative with homecoming, prom, and engagement requests. We try to find out more about likes, dislikes, and how to please the object of our affection. Then we apply tending to the later stages of love. We recognize that stoking the fire of affection is important (most of the time), but the everyday of life overtakes the flame. We breathe little bursts of air in it with date night or snuggles on the couch. Tending often takes the form of mutual affection: you scratch my back, I scratch yours. And this is important as love ages. Tending is good.
Pursuing is still necessary, however.
Song of Songs 8:6-7 tells us just how fiery love is, and we find in the pages of the Song that this is not limited to early love, to teenage or young adult starry-eyed devotion. The lovers in the Song and our own hot and cold tenderness is an imperfect expression of love. We were meant for fire and seals and a love as strong as death:
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised.
You have been pursued with the everlasting, never-ending, fierce love of Jesus Christ. When you were far off, He ran down a road for you. When you were in the pit, He laid on His belly and reached in the depths for you. He never stops pursuing. He never leaves us for forsakes us. He sends the Spirit to live in His baptized children for many reasons, but not the least of which is desiring to be with them.
Because we know the shape of perfect love looks like pursuit in Christ Jesus, we know that love in marriage never stops pursuing as an outpouring of this unbelievably powerful love in a world that leaves people feeling each day devalued, not worthy, and unpursuable.
Pursuing looks a lot more like sacrifice, than it looks like a fair shake.
It looks more like reaching out without knowing what the response will be. It looks like taking the risk, so that someone else will know they are loved more than they can imagine. It will never look like the world. It will look more like sharing Jesus.
Let the Holy Spirit well up, the love of Christ fill you today, and text your spouse. Tell them they are wanted, tell them they are loved, tell them they are beautiful. Send a note, take them to dinner, ring up the florist, walk into the kitchen and ask about their day. Unmarrieds, text a friend, because we all need to be reminded of our value in Christ. However you do it, intentionally pursue by the power of the True Pursuer, the One who loves our souls today and every day.
There is power in pursuit and that is Altogether Beautiful.