This past Sunday in worship we sang a song titled “Immortal Beloved.” It was about God being our beloved and us his beloved. There are a few references in the Bible of God as lover and his people as his beloved. It was a beautiful song!
But there was one line that tripped me up. It referred to God’s love as a never ebbing sea. Every time we sang it, whether practicing it or performing it, I got uncomfortable with this metaphor of God as a never ebbing sea. I kept thinking, “That’s exhausting!” At the beach and in life, a natural ebb and flow is a good thing. We need time apart and time together. Without sadness, we don’t know what joy really is. Without separateness, we don’t appreciate togetherness. And between lovers, if there isn’t an ebb and flow to time and attention with each other, dysfunction can grow like a choking weed.
I think a better metaphor for God’s ever present love is the sea itself, rather than it’s tides. As the sea is always present, always abundant whether the tide is in or out, so is God’s love abundant.
In relationship to God, there is an ebb and flow to our lives with God. God doesn’t always “feel” present. We do things, say things, and think things that shame us and make us want to turn a little, or a lot, away from God in order to turn down the heat. Sometimes, we are just having so much fun with our fellow humans, laughing until our sides ache, that our thoughts are with one of the many pleasures of being human rather than consciously on the Divine.
Yet God is there. Like the ocean with its tides, we may not always feel like or be face-to-face with God, but God and his love are always present supporting us…always there within reach.