Jealous for Me
What does it mean that God yearns jealously over our spirit? Isn’t jealousy a bad thing?
“Do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?'" (James 4:5 ESV)
I come from a ‘blended family’ or whatever the politically correct term is for divorce and re-marriage, creating the kind of family gatherings that resemble a zoo, both in number and noise! It’s amazing how many of us read ‘blended’ family and immediately think about dysfunction and instability. It’s true that God’s plan was for us to be raised by both our parents, and growing up without my real dad undoubtedly took its toll in some areas that God has gently and lovingly worked on and healed. In many ways though, my sisters and I escaped many of the ill-effects of divorce, largely because of the incredible blessing of an amazing stepdad. Recently, something that my mum shared with me years ago has been on my heart and has given me a glimpse in the natural of what it means that God is jealous for me.
My stepdad was not just jealous of my dad, he was jealous for me. Just as God is jealous for me. For you.
Like many kids with divorced parents, we used to visit our biological father on Saturdays which were pretty much the only truly free days my sisters and I had. When I was in my 20’s my mum revealed to me that my stepdad used to hide in his garage for the first hour or so after we left on those access visits. The reason? He was jealous.
Now, I’m sure that in his humanity there was a mixture of the negative side of jealousy on my stepdad’s part; that is being jealous of my dad. But there was also something in there which has given me a glimpse of God’s heart. My stepdad was not just jealous OF my dad, he was jealous for me. Just as God is jealous for me. For you.
My stepdad was jealous for my time, for being part of what I was doing, for sharing the little details of the day (although I’m sure he didn’t miss those sibling arguments that would break out in certain seasons). He was jealous for opportunities to create memories together, to teach me about his bikes, to show me new things and share my enjoyment. And it’s the same with God. When scripture talks about Him being jealous, it’s not that He envies other idols that we have or envies us. He’s jealous FOR us. Just as my stepdad loved us unconditionally and therefore wanted to be able to enjoy us, God’s love for us is so great that He desires to be part of our lives and wants us to let Him enjoy us.
My Heavenly Father is jealous for opportunities to show me little snippets of the Kingdom, to teach me and simply be with me and love on me.
God wants us to share every moment, He wants to be the one we desire and pour our affection on above everything else, to be the one to walk us through life’s challenges, to enjoy the journey with us in its highs and comfort us in the lows. My Heavenly Father is jealous for opportunities to show me little snippets of the Kingdom, to teach me and simply be with me and love on me. Just like my stepdad never forced us to stay and be with him instead of our biological father, God will never force Himself onto us.
But the truth is that whatever place we choose to give Him in our lives, He is longing for more of us. More of me. More you. More of our time, more of our lives, more of our minds and more of our hearts. Unlike my stepdad, however, God’s jealousy doesn’t fade with an hour in a garage spent restoring a Velocette! God’s jealousy is like a fire burning constantly. His jealousy is pure. It’s not tinted with any self-interest. It’s 100% rooted in love for us and His sheer delight in His kids.
As I realize that He is jealous for me, it increases both my response of love and my desire to be intentional about making Him a part of everything I do.
I’m sure that for many, this in itself isn’t fresh revelation for you. We’ve read it, we repeat it and we’ve often sung the song. What I also want to ask in sharing this illustration of a father’s jealous love from my own life though is: have we ever really thought about what that means and how it changes the way we live? Have we ever really delighted in how much we are loved? Have we ever drawn security from that?
My mum told me about my stepdad almost a decade ago, yet it’s only recently that it impacted my heart as I’ve dwelt on what it means. As I’ve pondered on my stepdad’s jealous love, it’s increased my affection for him and I’ve enjoyed the revelation that I was not an additional burden that came with my mum, but I brought him pleasure. And it’s the same with God. As I realize that He is jealous for me, it increases both my response of love and my desire to be intentional about making Him a part of everything I do. With my stepdad, I missed that for years. Are we the same with God’s jealousy for us? Have we missed that emotion and what it means, what it says about His love and our position in His heart? And have we ever really thought about our response to it?
Had I known at the time how my stepdad felt, I know I would have found more excuses to stay at home with him. I would have chosen to respond to that jealous love by making and enjoying more time with him. My prayer in sharing this reflection with you is firstly that you will begin to understand how much you are loved. I pray too that from that place of realization, you would respond with joy and increased affection for your Heavenly Father, and that you would take pleasure in setting aside time to have with Him, but also allow Him to be a part of the everyday things, not just in a quiet time box.
He delights in you and He is jealous for you today, tomorrow, and every day.