Jealousy, this is not a word that usually comes with a positive connotation. But lately this is my favorite word. The reason is because lately it has a new meaning for me. I always that it was a nice saying or phrase that God was a jealous God, that he was jealous for me. But recently I have been reading in gods at war and I get it. I get what it means to have a God that is jealous for me, he is so passionately in love and in pursuit of my heart he wants it all. His heart is burning with a deep passion and jealousy for me.
Let me share the portions that stood out while reading this book, all of these are from Chapter 3 fittingly titled a jealous god:
“He doesn’t want us to make room in our closet for him; he wants the closet to himself.”
“God is jealous for your heart, not because he is petty or insecure, but because he loves you. The reason why God has such a huge problem with idolatry is that this love for you is all-consuming. He loves you too much to share you.”
“In the Bible, the words jealous and zealous are basically interchangeable— We think of zeal as being intense enthusiasm. That idea captures why God is so possessive about us: he is, as he says, a consuming fire of passion for us.”
“In Christianity, there is one God. He is all-powerful. He takes an active role as father to every human being. His most striking feature is not anger or power or transcendence or even creativity but instead is his relentless, all-consuming love.”
“He wants you, and not just some of you. He is jealous for your whole heart.”
Those descriptions, God is jealous for me not because he needs me, but because he knows the plans he has and that they are good. He knows every struggle I will face and knows that it can be used for redemption. He also knows that none of those things get to define me because he has claimed me as his daughter. His jealous heart is one where he is looking at me and sees me as a masterpiece and he just wants me to shine and show that.
Looking at this book and being honest in evaluating God has made it pretty clear to me that I have an idolatry problem. That my heart isn’t fully his, I have pieces that I have kept to myself. Places that I have kept dark and did not want anyone to know about. Things that were a gift from God that have taken up the place as an idol in my heart. And a conviction has been stirred. I have a choice, I can put the idols in a closet for a short period of time and know they are always there, I can pretend they don’t exist, I can continue to try to make God and those idols fit in the closet, or I can take the steps and cut them off at the source.
For me I have chosen to make a change, to learn to cut them off. That has meant being honest in a safe place and having someone come alongside and get to see the mess that I didn’t want anyone to see. And allowing someone else to help guide me in this crazy journey of casting away these idols. It has meant learning the importance of putting up safe guards so that my heart will be protected. Setting up boundaries that may seem a little childish or like “rules” but I know those things will only help protect my heart and begin to repair the hardening that has happened in those areas.
God blessed me with this image that just shows me what it means for God to be jealous for my heart. I just imagine my heart as this garden, there are places that are lush and green, with tress that provide shade, flowers that have a sweet fragrance, places of tranquility. But then where there is a sense of an idol, those places are clay dirt, filled with rocks, dry overgrown dead weeds. God was like see this area, this area isn’t my design. He was telling me he had something way better planned for this area. That if I was willing to do the work he would be right alongside me in the garden. That we could work together to clear the rocks and weeds. We could tend to the soil and change it from dry, dusty clay soil to soft fertile soil. Then we can plant seeds, tend and water and that in time with that work, some patience, grace, forgiveness and changes in my actions that this area will be one of the most beautiful places in my heart.
The fact that I have a God that is willing to come be in the garden and work with me in the mess that I have created, that he is willing to be alongside and help clean out and rebuild an area of my heart that I allowed to be destroyed by being consumed with things that were not of him is a beautiful image. And that is what it means for God to have a jealous heart for me. And it is freeing to know that he sees that mess, he knows the mess and is gently saying I have more, let me take your hand and let me help you make those changes. All you need to do is come alongside me. He is saying let me rebuild what it means to guard your heart, to protect your innocence and purity, let me show you what it means to have true intimacy, let me show you what true love is, because it is far better than what you have been seeking. I sure am thankful I get to be a daughter of such a benevolent God.