I asked Maggie, who is 13, if she knew the meaning of the word woo. She said, "Yeah I think so. It’s like woo woo! Good stuff!" And yeah – there is that. But I had another meaning in mind. The old fashioned wooing of a man for a woman he desires to marry. I read a blog post about how that doesn’t happen much anymore and how unfortunate that is.
Which got me thinking about how God is always wooing us, trying to gain our love so that we can be married to Him. And why would he want us to be married to him? Because that would be the best thing for us and he loves us enough to desire our good. And he would do anything for us, even allow himself to be tortured and killed on a cross. Ephesians 5 talks about husbands and wives. Paul instructs wives to submit to their husbands and respect them. And we women sometimes push back on that. There isn’t as much attention paid to the instructions for the husband: to love your wife like Jesus loves the church, and gave himself up for her. In a holy marriage, a husband is willing to die for his wife. If we are the church (and we are – both men and women), Jesus is our spouse and he has died for us. He woos us so that we can benefit from all that he has prepared for us – both in this life and the next.
Wooing has a gentle connotation. It’s all about love for the other – not for my own benefit but for the benefit of the other. Contrast this with seducing. That is defined as attracting someone into a course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy. It is persuading someone to disobedience or disloyalty. God woos. The devil seduces.
How does the devil seduce? And how does God woo? Let’s look at each of those.
The devil seduces with lies and false promises. This will make you happy. This will solve all your problems. This will give you the comforts you deserve. He seduces with fears. Watch out for them. Protect yourself. Don’t trust them. He seduces with appeals to our pride. You deserve better. You are more righteous than others. You should not let them take advantage of you. You are God’s gift to the world. Look out for number 1 – that’s you. The devil’s seduction is about possessing you, controlling you, using you, and gaining your eternal soul. He wants power over you. He uses seduction to get that.
God is completely different. God doesn’t want to control you. He gave you free will. He wants you to love Him freely. Not out of fear of hell or by coercion. He woos you slowly to build your trust in him so that you come to know he loves you completely, desires only good for you, would die – did die for you.
So what are some ways that God woos us?
- With messages of love. That’s the Bible. The whole story of salvation history is God’s love. God created Adam and Eve out of love. They fell. But even there in the Garden of Eden he had a plan for our restoration – He would come in the form of Man and die so that we could live forever with Him. Take some time today to read the Bible and meditate on God’s love that is written in every page. God is wooing you through the words of scripture.
- God woos us with his promises. They are in the Bible, too – all over the place. What are some of his promises? I will be with you always. I will not leave you. I will strengthen you. I will uphold you. Delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire. I will supply your every need. I have plans for you – plans for good. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord. There are many more, but that gives you an idea of the kinds of promises God gives. These promises are all about the things of heaven. Satan, on the other hand, promises things of this world, as if they are what will make us happy. But God knows that the things of this world are passing away. What matters is eternal life with Him.
- God woos us with gifts and talents. Every one of us has something we are good at. Maybe you are a good teacher or you can sing or paint well. Maybe you are a great listener. Whatever it is, it is a gift from God. He wants you to take pleasure in it and use it for His glory. When you do, you will delight in it and in the Lord. When my dad was alive, he was my greatest supporter. If I led a retreat or gave a talk, he was there to encourage me. When I wrote my first book, he told me how proud he was of me. I know I delighted him. And I love that I delighted him, that I gave him joy through the talents God gave me. I was happy to make him happy. I think God is like that with each of us. When we use the talents he gave us, we are wowed – that was cool! And we are wooed! Thank you God for your grace in that situation, for giving me these gifts to use, for allowing me to be a part of your plan to touch people’s hearts. You could have done it without me but you didn’t. You wanted to include me. You wanted me to experience the joy of touching another person’s heart. That’s wooing. He did it for me! To show me how much I am loved. Crazy love – right?
- God also woos us when we are in our sins. He doesn’t drag us back. He doesn’t browbeat us and tell us how horrible we are (that’s from the enemy). Sometimes he lets us see how miserable we are so that we can see what we have given up – just like the prodigal son. And, like the father of the prodigal son, he waits for our return. He is watching. Patiently. We only need to take one step toward him and he will come running to us and embrace us and cover us with His cloak. He doesn’t expect us to grovel. He only wants us to turn back to him. That’s how much he loves us. He is wooing even when we are dead in our sins.
- God woos us with gentleness and compassion. Look at the stories in scripture of how he spoke to what were considered the worst sinners of the time. He loved them. He was patient. He healed their wounds. He protected them. He told them to sin no more. He took pity on them. He suffered with them. He suffers with us. Our pain is his pain. He is always there, even in the darkest times, even when we don’t feel his presence.
- God woos us with His Truth. Jesus never allowed people to speak a lie without correcting them. If they didn’t understand, he clarified. Even the hard teachings – he acknowledged that they were hard but they were the truth. God will never lie to us. He always speaks the truth. We can trust him.
God woos. He desires the best for us and all of his wooing is directed to that end. It is directed to our growing in holiness, in becoming more united to him as is a husband to his wife – and they become one. God woos us so that we can become one with him. So say YES! Allow him to woo you. Receive His unlimited love.
As you ponder God's wooing, here are two questions to bring to prayer:
- How has God wooed you and how is he wooing you today?
- How has Satan seduced you? How can you reject his seductions and turn instead to God?