It always struck me how in the morning prayers when a man tightens the leather strap around his fingers and hand, first he recites that sanctification is forever and lastly by faith. Eternity; righteousness; faith. Shouldn’t faith be the first step, while the declaration of forevermore follow? It seems, according to this prayer, that faith is of greater weight than eternity itself.

Of course, the prayer is quoting the prophetic poetry of Hosea (2:20-21), which is a promise from God towards His people Israel as if to betroth them, and they shall know the Lord. So the picture is of God embracing Israel like in a marital covenant. When I pray this in the mornings, I think of the near future when I will declare these words to the young woman whom I love.

I will embrace you first of all for ever. This will be in righteousness, etc… Finally, you are sanctified to me in faith, and you will know me. We must be sanctified, shrouded in fidelity, in order to be known. For a relationship with true depth, not only is timeless commitment necessary, as is love and kindness, but also faith. To know me is to believe in me.

She believes in me, more than I dare believe in myself. Her faith is encouraging as much as it is challenging. What if her faith is based on ground that will break? What if one day she loses her faith and our love suffers? Well, commitment and righteousness will still be there, like two pillars. But faith must be the way to higher ground in a spiritual romance.

Once upon a time, my faith produced spiritual thoughts and emotions that granted me the audacity to relate to the God of Israel in such a personal way, as if I really knew Him. Now I pray alone in my room, with black leather and sunlight. But in return for leaving is someone to cling to, to fill the void until the day in which we shall truly know Him.

Amen.