Red, the color of love. It’s everywhere right now. Valentine’s Day and all. From florist storefronts emblazened with every shade of crimson to my kid’s Transformer valentines -red. I actually never thought much of the color. I’d prefer a creamy white rose to a red one anyday. It’s a little bold for me. If you know me at all you know that I like to stay in the neutral family of colors. It’s safer that way.
I’m a safe girl. In fact, the only reason I haven’t written on this blog for over a month is because it’s safe. If I don’t write, then I don’t risk. Don’t risk writing “me” when when my whole purpose is to write “Him.” Don’t risk writing meaningless drivel or vomiting up the late-night meanderings of my mind on this dusty keyboard. Don’t risk typos or incomplete thoughts. Don’t risk failure or wasting my time writing into the void of the blogosphere. I like safe.
No, I never thought much of the color red.
I’ve been doing a character study of Moses so I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus. Something stood out to me yesterday as I was reading the 10 Commandments out of Exodus 20. In verse 5 it says,
“You must not worship or serve any idol, because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
I pondered it a moment and took out my Bible commentary. I chewed on a few choice morsels and then when about the business of attending to the Strawberry’s mess-making and the Sour Patch Kid’s sour puss. Later in the day I grabbed my daily devotional and BAM! There it was again. The day’s verse,
“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
Now, whenever this happens (and it happens WAY more than you would ever think) I sit up and take notice. With 31, 103 verses in the Bible, it’s not just coincidence when the same verse or theme or Biblical story pops up again and again in the books you read or the sermons you hear.
My interest was once again piqued and I needed to know more. Jealous? What exactly does it mean for God to be jealous? Certainly God doesn’t lose Himself in the pre-teen fervor of puppy love. Certainly He can’t be like the brooding boyfriend, forever on edge, expecting at any moment to lose his beloved to the bequiling ways of someone ever more handsome and enticing. Certainly He’s not driving past my house to see if there’s another car there or sifting through my past emails. He’s not that guy, right?
Richard Strauss describes it this way,
“The root idea in the Old Testament word jealous is to become intensely red. It seems to refer to the changing color of the face or the rising heat of the emotions which are associated with intense zeal or fervor over something dear to us. In fact, both the Old and New Testament words for jealousy are also translated “zeal.” Being jealous and being zealous are essentially the same thing in the Bible. God is zealous—eager about protecting what is precious to Him.”
Zealous. He’s not jealous in the way we can be jealous, as if the object of our affection was just that, an object, a possession. No, He’s zealous for us. Eager. Passionate. Red with love.
He doesn’t want me chasing after my idols because He loves me. He knows that they never satisfy. His heart aches when my love is wasted on the temporary highs of a successful shopping trip or the joy of a few pounds lost. Oh, He rejoices with me when they don’t compete for His attention, don’t get me wrong. But when I neglect Him for their company, when my thought life is bombarded with their empty promises of safety, happiness and worth, it’s then that I’m cheating and it’s then that He weeps over the “other guy” in my life. It pains Him to see me prostituting myself on the altars of pride, control and security, not because He’s insecure but because He knows that He’s the only thing that can fill this hole in my heart. He knows that He’s the only thing that satisfies. And He wants that for me. He wants me to find peace in His love. He wants me to find worth in His love. He wants me to find fulfillment in His love. His love. That blood-red love that spilled so mine wouldn’t have to. Oh how He loves us.
Red, it’s actually a pretty great color.
Do me a favor, would you, dear friend? Click on the link below, turn up the volume (this is a must) and listen to this song.