God’s grace to me means: ____________________________________________
When I read the above statement in a devotional book challenging me to to “fill in the blank” with my own thoughts, I had to pause. How can I possibly define God’s grace? How can I accurately express in earthly words a characteristic of my Father’s presence that is so otherworldly?
And yet, I wanted to put words to my belief. I desired to pen how grace has played out in my life. With words falling FAR short of the extent of His boundless mercies toward me, I began my response…
Lavishing the relentless prodigal with unrelenting love, welcoming me home and calling me His own – time after time after time…
Granting His surname to the village prostitute, knowing full-well she will desert Him and drag His name through the gutters of this life.
Giving the keys of His kingdom to the prisoner who chooses to remain captive to her abuser as she scorns the ransom and refuses the gift. Yet still He remains: Jesus, Beloved Groom of Harlot Souls.
And as I penned that final statement, I could go no further. For I believe that the name given to Jesus here is the consummation of God’s grace to me – Jesus, Beloved Groom of Harlot Souls.
While I cannot claim rights to the coining of this phrase that I first read a few years ago in a poem authored by Steven James, I can claim the rights to its fulfillment in my life. For while I have heard Jesus entitled many things, perhaps nothing resonates so clearly within me as this title given to my gracious Savior.
Jesus, Beloved Groom of Harlot Souls.
I realize that some people may find this reference appalling. But to those of us who have dabbled in the world, mouthing words of faithfulness while playing the adulteress and flinging ourselves headfirst into earthly or spiritual prostitution, these words are some of the most gracious and hope-filled words ever penned.
Who but Jesus would continue to remain so kind and faithful to a betrothed who offers herself so freely to the lusts of others? Who but Christ would receive and welcome with such grace one so used up? A bride so addicted to promiscuous pleasures that while she mouths words of repentance, her heart is simultaneously turning to thoughts of treachery. One whose heart cries out for forgiveness with the very breath of betrayal already present upon her lips.
Who, indeed, but Christ.
The Groom of Heaven bends near to bestow compassion upon the very one who holds the nail and hammer meant to pierce Him. And while He releases mercy upon my soul, I tighten my grip and draw back my arm to release yet another blow upon the nail’s head.
Why does Jesus remain so gracious to one so unfaithful as me?
Because He knows my frame. He remembers that I am as dust, that my heart is fragile and turns and scatters with the slightest whispering of wind. He knows my weaknesses, that I am prone to pursue selfishness with the aggression of a starving wolf. And that is why He stays so close to me. Why He leans down with compassion ever near. To keep me from devouring myself.
While I may not have eyes to see His presence, the waywardness of my soul senses a stirring of His nearness and wrestles with my will. Grace tugs against my bonds; mercy beats against the prison gates; love goes in search of the key to free me from the confines of this self-imposed abyss… And all the while, my Savior is receiving the hammer blows meant for me.
That, my friends, is GRACE.
That is the grace given to you.
The grace given to me.
And while it is true that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Son of God, Risen Lord, and King of kings,
He is also Jesus, Beloved Groom of Harlot Souls – the One Who relentlessly pursues me with His grace.
The One who captivates my heart and chooses me still –
Time after time after time…
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her… She shall sing there as in the days of her youth…
And it shall be in that day, says the Lord, That you will call Me, ‘My Husband’, and no longer call Me, ‘My Master,’…
I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.
…Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy… (from Hosea 2)