Place me like a seal on your heart,

like a seal on your arm,

for love is as strong as death,

zeal is as strong as the grave;

its coals are coals of fire of a great flame.

Song of Songs 8:6

Love: the greatest, most precious gift. The purest energy, one which cannot be defined in tangible terms. Love is not a rush of oxytocin; it is not borne of a desire to possess. So, what is love?

We know from the prophets that God has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:2). And we learn from the Psalms that King David loves God purely and authentically: “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:2).

We recall that Moses was so beloved by God that he could see God’s back (Exodus 33:23), and that his face became radiant after spending forty days and forty nights with the Lord (34:29-30).

In our own lives, we observe the purity of love between humans. A daughter embracing her father; a man sacrificing his life to save another’s. A mother seeing her baby for the first time.

Unadulterated romantic love is more elusive, but we still find it: in the smile of a spouse, in the heartfelt kiss two lovers share.

Contrary to what we are told, we do not fall in love; rather, love consumes us. We do not trip and land in a mire of love; love begins in the depths, a spark in the darkness. A spark which finds its kindling.

It is a spark of recognition. Recognition of what is already there, and has been all along.

Moses did not see God until God declared: “You have found favor in My eyes, and I have known you by name” (33:17). God did not say, “I love you,” in exact terms. He said, “I have known you by name.”

Though our heart aches in an all too familiar way, though we may be haunted until kingdom come, we know when God pulls back the veil at long last, we will recognize Him, and He will know us by name.

For it is only when God knows us by name, and we know God, that we will know love in its purest form.

Love is not a hormone or a chemical reaction. Love is recognition in the truest sense.

Love is to know and be known.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

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