The prince was kneeling before his father, the king. This was a good and wise king. His kingdom was vast and his subjects were too numerous to count. His dominion was full of prosperity and peace.
“How much like me this son of mine is,” the king thought to himself. “He has grown into such a fine young man. He will be wanting to take a bride soon.”
“Father,” the young prince began as though he had read his fathers thoughts, “I have found my true love. I have come to ask your permission to pursue her.”
“Very good my son! Who is she?” the king answered with a hearty smile.
“Her name is Marie.”
“Marie,” the king’s smile faded. “Her name means ‘bitterness’, and it describes her well. She lives outside of the boarder of this land, in our enemy’s territory. Her life has been hard, and I fear that there is very little beauty or joy left in her, even though she is still young.”
“This I know, father. I met her once on my way to the Outer Lands. She was rude to me. She was dirty and dressed in rags. Yet there was something about her that has captivated me. I feel that there is a treasure beneath the filth. Every night I have dreamt of her, and I cannot forget the haunted look in her eyes. Perhaps my love could banish that emptiness and transform her from ‘Bitterness’ into ‘Full of Grace’.
“Son, consider your decision well. Do you truly think that Marie will be a princess befitting our glorious kingdom? Will she make a fine queen someday, able to rule at your side?” the king questioned.
“I know that my choice seems irrational, even reckless. Presently she would make a horrible queen. But I love her, Father, with everything in me. I love her! I know that I can save her from her life of misery and her bitterness. Please let me try.” The prince closed his eyes and bowed his head, awaiting an answer.
The king’s deep voice quavered with emotion, “Son, I am so very proud of you.”
The prince lifted his head suddenly. He searched his father’s eyes, the eyes that always seemed to hold the answers. The king went on.
“You see, Marie was born in this Kingdom and royal blood flows through her veins. She was meant to be your betrothed. I knew that she could become a woman worthy of you, my noble son.”
“What happened to her?” the prince asked with a new passion in his eyes.
“She was kidnapped at a very young age and carried away as a slave. She has lived in the enemy’s land, misused and deceived for all of her life. She may be saved, but there is no guarantee. She does not recognize her dishonorable condition, because she has never known the beauty of our kingdom. She may become offended by your purest intentions. ”
The words of the king seemed to ignite a fire in the already love-struck heart of the prince.
“I must go to her! Father, I must show her that she is loved. That she is worthy. That she is destined to be a queen! Please Father, let me go into the enemy’s territory.”
“You must understand, son, that your quest is noble and born out of true love. But you will suffer. You will suffer all that Marie has suffered…and much more.”
“I know,” the royal son replied in a passionate whisper, “Somehow I have always known. But my suffering is a small price to pay for Marie…for my love. To live here in the glory and abundance of our kingdom without her would cause me greater suffering.”
The prince paused as if the very thought of a life without his love was too terrible to express. He stood to his feet and raised his voice, “I am ready, Father. I must go to her!”
The king stood as well and enveloped his son in a strong embrace.
“You are right. You ARE ready. Marie IS worth the price. I will miss having you here by my side, but I am confident in the future. A future where both you and Marie are reigning with me. This quest is your destiny.”
The prince thought he saw a tear roll down the strong cheek. The King continued in a whisper now.
“This quest…it will cost you everything.”
As I watched this scene unfold on the stage of my mind, I knew that my assumptions were changing.
My paradigm was shifting.
My world was transforming.
This prince wasn’t afraid or reluctant. He was confident and bold. He was longing to go into hostile territory. Like a courageous warrior, he was willing to suffer and to die for the object of his love.
This prince was Jesus.
This Marie was me.
I was the prize that fueled His courage.
I was the treasure that energized His passion.
I was the pearl of great price that He sold everything He had to obtain.
He pursued me like a man pursues His bride. And He found me. He saved me. He turned me into “Full of Grace.”
He is still wooing me. He is still fighting battles for me. I am not yet a queen worthy of His great Kingdom. He is relentlessly pursuing me until I truly know who I am and whose I am. I feel Him teaching me His ways day by day. I feel His patience and His passion. I feel His delight and His desire.
He is pursuing each and every one of us, but only a few of us are aware. The rest go about their lives oblivious of the glorious kingdom for which they were born, the love that chases them.
Men and women all through the ages have encountered this love-sick warrior prince. Sometimes they caught just a glimmer of His smile, just a glimpse of His fiery eyes. Other times they have been washed by His love, wave after relentless wave until they were happily drowning in it.
Some have written about it. One such man is Cory Asbury. I found in the words of his song “Reckless Love” a confirmation of my own experience.
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
One night I was able to steal away to the prayer room at church. I got so caught up in my love for Jesus that my words just came spilling out in a passionate prayer.
“Jesus, you are everything – all we want. You are the goal, the prize, the destination, the journey, and every step in the journey. You are everything!”
I felt a small twinge of guilt. I offered up a silent prayer, “Sorry Holy Spirit. Sorry Father. I didn’t mean to forget about you.”
Then I saw the Father smiling down on me with pleasure, just as any good father would do while witnessing his son and fiancé being clearly head over heels in love with each other.
“You have chosen well, my son,” I heard him say.
I was shocked to hear this. I simply don’t see myself the way the Father does, the way Jesus does.
I am so thankful that He will never be satisfied until I do.
I am so thankful that He won’t let me go. That the fire in His eyes and the burning in His heart will never be diminished.
Jesus is the prince.
I am HIS PRIZE.
YOU ARE HIS PRIZE.
He will never give up us.
If you have never encountered this love or long to encounter it more, listen to “Reckless Love” and ask Him to reveal himself to you. This is a prayer that he has suffered, died, and now lives to answer.