John Wesley was the editor of his brother Charles’ hymns. Charles had written thousands of songs throughout his life and due to a certain appeal to Christian mysticism, some of his language was a bit too odd for John. For this reason John edited out words like “dear” because He never thought that you should refer to God in such a way.
I used to be like John. It always seemed odd using romantic language towards God, but then again, we are the bride of Christ, aren’t we? Over time, I began to hear more and more of this romantic language towards God and I came to find that it’s not a sexual language (as our oversexed culture might immediately think), but rather an attempt at description from those who have felt His extreme presence.
Now when I stumble across someone writing about their relationship with God in this kind of way, I don’t see oddness, but rather authenticity. I find myself hoping and wishing for the same experience.
I just stumbled across a great quote describing just this thing in James W. Goll’s book, The Lost Art of Practicing His Presence.
Mystical language is not doctrinal or theological language. It is the language of the bedchamber, of intimacy, of love; hence hyperbole and exaggeration abound. If a husband says that he adores his wife, it does not mean that he regards her as an idol or goddess; he is just trying to express his deep feelings of love in a language that is powerless to fully convey them, except by excessive hyperbole. If we begin using such intimate love language in trying to describe our experiences with God, some people may not understand that kind of language and may think that we are under the influence of “another kind of spirit.” (50)