Song of the Romancer: Part One: Chapter Four: The Chase
“I love you,” Buttercup said, “I know this must come as something of a surprise, since all I’ve ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you , but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn’t matter… I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there can be no comparison. I love you so much more now than when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do… Dearest Westley — I’ve never called you that before, have I? — Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, — darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.” And with that, she dared the bravest thing she had ever done: she looked right into his eyes. -The Princess Bride, William Goldman
Song of Solomon 1:4 — Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
You can practically breathe the desire in this verse. You can smell the adoration. Not because this is what Jesus says to us, but because it is what he wishes us to say to him.
This is his dream.
Can we really fathom the desire of God? Our days are filled with the emptiness of not having what we truly desire, of living in a “graveyard of buried hopes and dreams” as Anne of Green Gables would say. But then compare that desire, our hungering and truly deep desire for more, and then place it beside what must be a veritable black hole of desire from the Creator.
Women tend to escape to fantasy when love is no longer a viable option. That’s why romance novels — no matter how ridiculously repulsive or cheesy — are all the rage. And fantasy, in its own creative way, can be a very healthy outlet for the imagination. But it’s not a substitute for the eternity settled down in our hearts, craving much more than pretend things.
Some might be embarrassed by the urgency of their desires, how mad it can drive them. They bury the desire, the hopes, the dreams, and refuse to let them see the light of day because they’re afraid they’re inherently sinful as a rule. “The heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked,” isn’t that true? Perhaps it would be best to keep an iron chain wrapped around it, and lock it up somewhere safe so it won’t get us into any trouble.
But it is impossible to love without the heart, and that is precisely what Jesus is asking us for. We can’t give up hope on the heart, not the good, clean, washed heart of flesh (rather than stony rock) that has been given us since our rebirth. And Proverbs assures us that the desire of the righteous is good. What we really need to do, instead of fearing our desires and what trouble they might cause us, is evaluate what they really are. Because chances are, that after all this time trying to quiet them, they’re practically strangers. We don’t really know our desire.
Our desires are not the problem. Not knowing what they really are is.
When I was young, probably eleven or twelve, I desperately, wholesomely, absolutely wished that I could be kidnapped. Oh — all of the wonderful heroines I read about were always being kidnapped! Nancy Drew was practically in handcuffs or duct taped all the time; at least once a month! Leia was captured by Vader, and Belle was imprisoned by a beast! If you were truly hero material, if you were really a good sleuth, and made a difference, you were sure to be kidnapped. It did all kinds of wonderful things for your reputation, and I was sure that I needed to be kidnapped at least once if I was ever to make an impact in the world. It was — for quite a long time, I’m amusedly pleased to say — my dearest desire to be kidnapped.
In hindsight, being kidnapped might not have been a good thing to desire. At least, not on the outside. Not just at the first glance. But as I’ve gotten older, not a lot has changed — I still desire adventure. Now, is that a terrible thing to desire? It’s not the same as being kidnapped, but it is definitely exciting. My bucket list includes skydiving (check), backpacking through New Zealand, visiting all five continents, learning to fly in Alaska, and scuba diving (this is overcoming a fear for me!). And no, I no longer feel the need to be kidnapped by bad guys so I can prove my worth. Although, that might be an adventure in and of itself.
The desire has matured, and I’ve come to understand it better because my desire was never squashed, I didn’t try to overcome impulses that I didn’t understand just because I didn’t understand it. Sometimes, we don’t even really know what we want until we really sit in it and roll around in it and let ourselves get to know it. And then we realize the desire isn’t nearly as bad as we could have assumed it was just meeting it.
Now that God has led me into my path and career of piloting, I see how the desire has taken its course and come to fruition. I will absolutely need that desire for adventure if I’m going to have any passion for what he has given me to do, and it is his highest wish that I am passionate for him in all that I do. Not everyone’s desire is for adventure, and if it is, it might be interpreted as foolish. If we were really “good”, our desires would be more along the line of: be a perfect mother, soul win, keep house better, enjoy the job we have. But our deepest desires are rarely so simple; human hearts are rarely so simple either.
I have found that desire is God given and must be nurtured. It’s an essential element to romance.
Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts. -Edgar Allen Poe
There is no need to fear the desires of your heart. Chances are that they are a part of the passion for life that God has planned for you, passions that you will need in order to enjoy the gifts he will bestow on you. The problem is that when we won’t analyze them, meditate on them, discover them, and apply them to what Scripture tells us to do with desires, they don’t do us any good. They just thwart, confuse, and terrify us.
Go back to my kidnapping fantasy — a psychologist will say it’s the classic female need to be rescued. Sure, let’s go with that. There is a definite part of the female soul that desires rescue, to be saved from the curse she’s under. A curse that’s been passed down mother to daughter for generations, that all started with some fruit and a devilish snake. If you deny that you want rescuing from that curse, then you’re swimming upstream in the Nile. Part of that — and I know vividly from personal experience — denial is in the flip-flop the world puts on that and spins it with, “Women are just needy and emotional.” They say that a woman has to be beautiful; and one who is must be vain. They say she should be wanted; and one who is must be needy. They say she should be loving and nurturing, but then they mock her for being weak. Who wants to be branded with that?
The thing is, we let that seep into our reasoning, decide we can’t let ourselves need that, and shut off the tap of desire. We refuse to appear weak. I will raise my hand and admit to having thought and done this, but it’s another one of Satan’s ploys to demean our very necessary and wonderful hearts that desire so deeply and long so greatly. The desire to love and be loved as we were created to be is what is used against us most.
This is why the desire within us for romance is so frighteningly strong. It’s not there to torment us, or cause us grief. We do that to ourselves when we won’t come to the source of romance. We try to fill our diesel engines with the plain old cheap stuff, and that’s why nothing seems to run quite right, we’re hungry, we need more, our desires are screaming out and crying for soulfood. If we did not desire romance so keenly, we would have no reason to come to God for it. And that’s what he wants. He desires to draw us, so he tacks the string to our hearts and starts tugging.
All the while, if we won’t be filled with his love, our desires wither and terrify us.
And then here comes Jesus, and we are offered the chance to be drawn. Does that call do something to your heart? Does it leap, just a little, at the idea of someone who wants to chase after you, who desires you, who draws you in and keeps you there?
Do we feel the depth of this ‘drawing’, this pull every day? Are we searching for him in our hearts, in our souls, in our daily lives, even just in the middle of the day, at work, at home, in the shower, on break, at all times? Do you hear him in a song, or smell his scent in the breeze, feel him trying to get your attention?
I think the biggest clue Christ gives us as he begins this romance, the story of the greatest true love in all the world, is that it begins, and is consistently being reiterated, with the fact that she is searching for him. He comes when he is called. He is always there, but he reveals himself when he is wanted.
And if you are not looking for him, it will be increasingly difficult to find him.
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, And it told thy love to me.
But I long to rise in the arms of faith, And be closer drawn to thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,To the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord. To thy precious, bleeding side.
Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto thee. Draw me, we will run after thee. He has given us the key to what he wants, which will cause us our greatest joy and gladness.
Everyone has a fantasy; probably a little different from my childhood dream of abduction. I’m talking romantic fantasy now. We all have ways in which we want to be pursued most. While some are drawn to the passion of a heated, whirlwind romance, others want a quieter, slow burning tale. One wants a man like Mr. Darcy, and someone else wants Han Solo. Or Aragorn, or Captain America, or dear, sweet Westley, or Flynn Rider. From Gilbert Blythe to Tobias Eaton; take your pick, for the possibilities are endless.
Most women make lists of the qualities their man will exude, and while handsome, loyal, and strong take up the top rankings, most everyone has a different idea of what they want. Me, my list includes (but is not excluded to!) loyal, adventurous, decisive, gentle, willing to adapt and change, ever learning, wise, hopeful, wants to share himself, loves God more than anything, understanding . Recent additions included intelligent (a little nerdy) and foreign (if it’s not too much to ask!). Needless to say, our lists are probably very different. And they help us exclude the possibilities.
But when it comes to Jesus’ list for his significant other, there is no way you could ever be excluded, because it narrows down to one thing. That one thing was be mine, and now that you are, he is ready to begin romancing you. And that’s it. No jumping through hoops, no balancing acts, no fetching a hair from the Great Cham’s beard, or performing insane acts of bravery. Just acceptance.
I may have mentioned that Jesus is a gentleman. He is careful not to force himself on you, because he respects the freewill he has given to you. And if you have decided that your relationship is good enough from a distance, he won’t like it, but he won’t push it. He will stay on the outskirts, waiting to be let in, until the sun goes out and stars turn to glass. If he must adore you from a distance, he will, just as he loved Israel even when their hearts were given to other gods and countries. He loves with an everlasting love, he has written his love letter to you in thousands of words, sixty six books to get your attention. So, if you must, push him away, and see where your desire takes you. It will be an ugly place.
But would you really leave your Romancer out in the cold? If you found your true love, but they refused to fulfill your needs, your desires, your hopes and dreams, imagine the depth of your despair! Would you really say, “no,” to Mr. Knightley? He pales in comparison to Jesus. To the one who wants your love, who wants to be drawn in by you, by your beauty and charm and grace? You would deny him that, and in the process, deny yourself?
I love that Buttercup finally builds up the guts to tell Westley how she feels. She’s the one who runs to his hovel door, bangs on it to be allowed entrance, then pours out her heart in a page long, discombobulated speech that speaks to the bubbling fountain in her heart that cannot be dammed or impeded. It’s awkward, it’s halting, it barely follows at points, but she does it — she chases him down, she gets his attention, she admits her love for him. She can’t stand to see another woman try to win his affection, and she finally opens her eyes to just how much she desires him, and she puts it out there for him to grab — a chance to win her heart. She wants to be drawn, and she tells him so, point blank, and blatantly. Finally deciding to be unafraid of her desire, she pours it out on him.
He then slams the door in her face, but that’s beside the point Don’t worry — they get together three pages later and then he runs off to America, his ship is hijacked, he becomes a pirate, then comes back several years later when she’s an almost queen and wins her heart all over again. Sigh. Twu wuv. What I’m trying to say is, there is a prize for being willing to go after love. And after so many of us have been shot down in the past, that can be a bit hard to believe.
We must be brave enough to try again. We must be brave enough to be vulnerable, and chase down the Romancer when he calls us.
Those eyes have seen so many places and that heart has felt so many things and yet you still smile at the darkest feelings and find expression in everything that’s colored beautiful. -R. M. Drake
The King himself is the one we are chasing, running after, pursuing. He is drawing, we are following. And it doesn’t say he picks and chooses who he brings in to his chambers — he takes those who come to him. And his embrace is remarkably memorable.
By now, you might be wondering why there is some sort of romantic insert at the beginning of each chapter, all secular literature. I absolutely love to read, and I know it’s not something everyone likes to do, but I love old books. I love poetry, I love romances, I love original science fiction, I love adventures and plays and sonnets and tales. I think Spurgeon put it best when he said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” Literature is practically sacred to me. And there is a reason.
All romance stems from our innate need for love, in our created, natural state. God is the God of romance, the Romancer. He inspires love, even if the writers never intended it. Love and romance are beautiful things, and all beautiful things stem from him. So you see, ultimately, they are his. And I wish that we could see him in romance as we should all the time.
If you’re wondering, yes, I am trying to be ‘irreverent’. In the holiest way I can possibly be. I show my reverence to my King by seeing him as he has revealed himself to me, and loving him for being so familiar. It would be truly irreverent if I insisted he be prim and proper, cold and unfeeling, without a stitch of romance to speak of. This is Jesus. This is my friend, and this is my lover. If you have never experienced him this way, then let me introduce you.
We should be able to rejoice in this, to revel in our freedom with the King. The bride sings out her gladness at being chosen by the king of Jerusalem, and how he has brought her to his home, like a true fairy tale. We too have been taken into the King’s chamber, we are close comrades, we are companions and confidence keepers. To be brought in to his secret places is to be ultimately intimate.
He has loved us first, he desired our romance first, he died to show his everlasting adoration first, and now he asks that we invite him in. Sometimes this idea can seem backwards; kind of like a woman proposing to the man. Well, it’s not the first time:
And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself, and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid; spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. — Ruth 3:7–9
When Ruth goes to Boaz at midnight, she goes with the right given to her by Israelite law that encouraged her to marry a kinsman of her dead husband. But she wasn’t instigating love in Boaz or forcing him into a marriage contract or beginning anything that he hadn’t wanted from the moment he first met her — he always loved her. But he never forced himself on the beautiful young woman, but cared for her as best he could until he knew her desires. This wasn’t about his heart to him, it was about hers, caring for hers, however that may have been. It’s apparent that from the moment he sees her in his fields, he fell in love with her, and from the moment that he knew the self sacrificial nature of her heart, that he adored her even more. And yet, he keeps his distance, he remains aloof, he asks nothing from her, and waits for her to make the first move.
Ruth’s request is basically this: Draw me. In asking him to “spread his skirt”, she was essentially asking for his protection and security. The phrase literally means “wings”, like a hen reaching out to huddle her chicks into her bosom. She communicated her desire plainly and simply, and he responded promptly in the affirmative; because he loved her, and surely would have done anything for her.
But put yourself in Ruth’s shoes for a minute — think about her situation. She’s poor, foreign, and widowed, new to this way of life and these people, preparing for a life of providing for her mother in law single handedly. She meets this older, wealthy, probably fairly intimidating man, and yet, he shows her kindness and sympathy and mercy. I don’t know when exactly she fell in love with him, or what qualities endeared him to her, but the one thing that often holds us back the most probably tempted her — fear of rejection. And that is particularly terrifying when you’re the one doing the offering in the first place. Ruth was not only obedient to Naomi in going to Boaz with her proposal, she was also incredibly brave. And if you’re going to be a true romantic, you usually have to be.
Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. — Psalm 69:18
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. — Jeremiah 31:3
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. — John 12:32
We need not fear rejection from Jesus — it is his most repeated promise that he loves us. Our first and foremost duty, our first commandment and honor is to love him as best we can in return. Our sacrifice of love is only the most pitiful recompense we can give. And yet, he wants and desires it so dearly, though its worth is so small and insignificant.
I love that, in this verse of Song of Solomon, the bride follows her plea to her husband to draw her in with a promise to run after him. Not just follow; not walk; not come when it pleases her. Run. This is not a passive relationship. We aren’t always called to sit, though I do love to sit at his feet and listen for a while. But there is a time for action, and it is time to run after him, run after this beautifully strong and passionate man we call Jesus. And I think if we are willing to chase him, he will run slowly.
#discombobulatedrubbish #chase #songofsolomon #songoftheromancer