“I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me.” (Song of Solomon 6:3) In Hebrew, it’s ah-nee le-doh-dee, ve-doh-dee lee. The Hebrew month of Elul (אֱלוּל), which we are now in, is an acronym for this verse, and serves as a time of preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Twenty-seven years ago, I prepared to marry my beshert, my destiny. Friends gathered around and fussed over my gown, hair and makeup. I carried a bouquet of white carnations with pink rosebuds. While our families fretted over protocol and tablecloths and who would walk down the aisle first, I wanted only to run to John, take his hand and begin our life together. I peeked out the door in anticipation, calling, “John, I love you!” down the hall.
After the wedding, my husband took me home. As I expected, the house had working utilities, furniture, clean sheets and towels, and food in the refrigerator. Boxes of my personal items that I sent ahead the week before stood carefully stacked against the living room wall. But those things did not make a house a home. My husband delighted me with surprises—little things that I did not expect. Things he did just for me. Pictures in frames set up on the dresser, new slippers in the closet, my typewriter set up on my desk. He even made a giant heart in twinkle lights across the bedroom ceiling.
So often before the High Holy Days, we talk about commitment and sacrifice and the hard work of remaining faithful. Those are certainly part of the package. But our God wants to be more than an obligation in our eyes. He wants us to long for him as he longs for us. Like the promise of a good marriage, God offers us a hope and a future with unfailing love. He is for us and we are for him.
“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV