John Wesley was thirty-five when he experienced the now famous "warming" of his heart—not his mind—toward Christ, and knew in that moment he had become not merely a Christian, but something more—a lover of God. Shortly after, he penned the hymn "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," whose first verse goes like this: "Jesus, Lover of my soul/Let me to thy bosom fly." Down through the years the hymn has left many a hymnologist reaching for a more palatable translation, "the difficulty," as John Julian said, "is the term Lover as applied to our Lord." Revisions now in hymnbooks read, "Jesus, Savior of my soul" or, "Jesus, Refuge of my soul," which are touching but nothing close to what Wesley meant. He meant Lover.

You'll notice how dominant the "reason and knowledge are everything" approach has been by noticing that men who have fallen in love with God are often referred to in the church as "mystics," a term that gives a sort of honor while at the same time effecting a dismissal. Mystic, meaning "inexplicable," which devolves into "unreasonable." Mystic, meaning also "exceptional, as opposed to perfectly normal." Odd, even. Difficult to analyze.

David would have had no problem at all understanding this. The poetry that flowed from the heart of this passionate Lover is filled with unapologetic emotion toward God. He speaks of drinking from God's "river of delights" (Ps. 36:8 NIV), how his Lover has filled his heart "with greater joy" (4:7 NIV) than all the wealth other men have found, and he writes in many of his love songs how his heart sings to God. He cries through the night, aches to be with God, for he has found, really found, his life in God: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence" (16:11 NIV) to such a degree that his heart and soul "pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God" (42:1-2 NIV), his body even longing for God. These are not the words of a dry theologian or moralist. These are not the words of even your average pastor. For him, God's love "is better than life" (63:3 NIV). David is captivated by the Beauty he finds in God. On and on it goes. The man is undone. He is as smitten as any lover might be, only—can we begin to accept this? do we even have a category for it?—his lover is God.

 

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