I know the greatest area of growth for me since Steve died, five years ago this month, is greater intimacy with Jesus. I’ve been so convicted by Tim Keller’s sermons on how we love God more for His stuff than for Him. I want to love Him for Him. I don’t think many Christians are there — and I am certainly just on the way — for I am so easily distracted by other things.
When I looked on google images for a picture for this verse from The Song of Songs, I found it was primarily used for wedding invitations — and though that is a beautiful earthly parallel, The Song of Songs is not just about marriage, not just about sex, not just about intimacy with an earthly soulmate. It is meant to point us to Jesus, the Lover of our souls, and the One who wants us to love Him in return. I ended up choosing this painting of Mary of Bethany, when Jesus was comforting her after the death of her brother Lazarus. I do think Mary of Bethany “found the One her soul loves,” for she is the one who lavished all her earthly goods on Him, that alabaster jar of precious ointment. She is the one who sat at His feet, “hanging on His every Word.”
This is how the CEV translates this passage:
I’m not one of those women
who shamelessly follow
after shepherds. My darling, I love you!
Song of Songs 1:7
If the conversations of Christians are any indication, most of us are not there. I guess the beginning is asking Him to help us find Him in this way — which is the next questions she asks in The Song of Songs… but before we go there — I would so love your reflections on this!
Dee, I am convicted in the same way. I found a passage in a book by David Benner which says “What I seemed to want was another job, not to know God and his will for me. I confessed this to God, and slowly I began to notice a change. Increasingly I found myself praying that I would know Him better.”
I want my prayer life to reflect my desire to know God better rather than simply a list of what I want Him to do for me. It will take me until eternity! Love to you, Susan
Susan — so glad to have you blogging!!! (Susan is a fairly new friend in Wisconsin — I prayed for a friend who was really seeking God, and she is God’s gracious answer.) I remember when you told me that your prayers for your children have changed — you still may ask for what they have asked you to pray for (a job, a house, etc.) you primarily pray for their love relationship to the Lord. (I hope I have that right.) I have been doing more of that too — and turning all the “earthly requests” into “Please give it if it is best for their soul, their love relationship with You — for You are wisdom itself…” And I need to pray that way for myself too — when I ask Him for something, to simultaneously surrender if that is not my best in view of my love relationship with Him…
I so love these blogs Dee. I find myself looking forward to them. I love the comments of all the women and their thoughts. I love talking about “Him whom my soul loves”. I would have to agree though that most of us are a far way off from that, but I love Him because He doesn’t give up on us because of that. He is like a lover, who says, “Come and know me.” And when we come and “find” Him, we find in Him, everything our soul desires. I don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes I see the “darkness” of my own heart, and I think – how could he love me? I am dark, full of sin. And like Adam and Eve, I want to hide. But when i come to Him recognizing who I am, bringing my “blackness” to Him, He then reminds me that He knows me, that He understands my frame and remembers that I am dust. I read somewhere that the Christian life is “a series of new beginnings.” “Being like Christ is the goal.” “Thus the journey requires – and allows – a fresh start every day.”
I think of the Queen of Sheba, when I think of “finding Him whom my soul loves.” When she came to visit Solomon, and saw for herself all his achievements and heard his wisdom this is what she declared, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.” That’s how I think it is when we “find Him whom our soul loves”, we find in Him all that our souls desire and more! He is everything!
I agree, Fellowsojourner, about the “darkness” of our souls. And Satan will sometimes cause us to see our sinfulness as a way to draw away from God, but instead God allows us to see us in order to draw us nearer to Him. Because as His Word declares, He is a consuming fire and the closer we get to Him and allow Him to get to us, He begins to consume up everything within/without us that are not like Him and causes/teaches us to live holy. I agree with all of you, I’m a ways off from capturing the love affair I once had with Him, but I’m finding these blogs drawing me nearer and nearer. I just told my Facebook “family” that I was taking 3days off Facebook in order to spend more time with the Lord and my family. I found myself easily getting addicted to keeping up with the people online that I haven’t seen in years, but if after my 3 day “fast” from FB, I don’t find discipline and balance, then I’ll have to come off Facebook completely..but whatever it takes to keep my relationship with Christ ALIVE! and not just existing. He’s worth the effort! But we have to press in! And also, Susan, I so enjoyed your thoughts of how your prayer life is changing..slowly, but progressively. I pray for each and everyone day and night that we will come out of this beautiful series (not that I’m in hurry..we can do this until the Second Coming as far as I’m concerned) in love with the Lord like we’ve all never known possible! Pray 4 me as well!
He whom my soul loves – is all that! My comforter, my helper, my friend, my God, my lover. I think of your story Dee, lying in bed missing the comfort of your husband. Then I think of Jesus, do we not love Him, because He is all that, and we are not? Even the picture that is posted here of Mary of Bethany, and Jesus’ comforting her, do we not love him, because He is concerned? I need “his stuff”. Not the material things, but I need His love, His compassion, His tenderness, His strength, His forgiveness, His mercy, His concern, His comfort. I love Him because He is everything I am not, and He is everything I need. I love Him, because He loves me.
I must tell the three of you who have shared above, including Jaime, most recently, what just happened.
I was getting my coffee and asking the Lord, “Lord — why is it that when I post something about an earthly matter, like friendship or sex — that there is all kinds of activity on the blog — but when I talk about our love relationship with You — there is so little?
I sensed Him asking me, “What made you hunger for me, Dee?” And I know what it was — it was pain.
And then I came back and saw Jaime’s beautiful post. And I have already loved Fellowsojourner’s and Jan Elizabeth’s. I suspect you all have suffered deeply — and perhaps that is why you thirst for Him. Is that right? Or am I off base?
And I must say, that your sharing is so beautiful, that I am supremely thankful for it.
But tell me — have you suffered deeply? Is that why you thirst for Him?
Hi, Dee. I would say that you are not off base, because one of the Scriptures that “kissed me” was the one concerning Mary of Bethany and what Jesus said about her. He said in Luke 7:41-42:47: “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 47: Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” As a listened to a preacher bring that message on the radio, about a year ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to me that I was just like that woman. Sometimes, our deep suffering comes from sin, but even then, when we begin to really realize (in our hearts and not just with our minds)what was done for us on the cross, it just makes you want to do whatever it takes to please Him. Because in my heart, I know I’ve done things worthy of death and people have often reminded me, but one day when I received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord honored me (can’t think of better word to describe the experience and certainly don’t want to shortchange it) by calling me by my name. I literally heard the voice of the Lord and He called me, “Jan” and His voice was like that of soft, foamy waves travelling across music notes (the best way I can describe it) because His voice carried a melody and a sound of waters, but He wasn’t singing. And when I heard His voice call me by my name, not the derogatory names I’ve been called in my life by others and even my own mind games I’ve entertained from Satan, it was indescribable..I knew then that He loved me in spite of me, in spite of everything I’d done and have been..so, that caused me to want Him more than anything..God wants us to draw near to Him..He said in James: Draw nigh to God and He’ll draw nigh to us. He’s waiting on us to initiate it and when we make one step, oh, He’ll meet us! So, yes, to make a long story short, I have suffered some rightfully so and some not, but the Lord yet desires me…and you..and that’s what keeps me hungry for Him!
My soul was as the blackness of night Dee. There was no reason, that He should love me. But he did. And He came and He rescued me. I will love Him forever. He is everything, and all to me. I thirst for Him, because I need Him. I just know who I am Dee, and I am desperately wicked without Him. Any thing good in me, is from what He has done. I am still amazed by His love. As you described your struggle being comforted by the Lord, I too, at times struggle. Like a kid, I imagine myself, kicking and fighting against the Lord, saying no, you can’t love me, I am unlovable. But still, he continues to love me, I am amazed at the tender mercies he has shown me.
Fellowsojourner — Ezekiel 16!
I find that those who have experienced that black night are often the best at comforting and helping others — as you have to Journeyvision.
Thanks for sharing here.
When I was at my lowest point, both of my sons in prison, an overwhelming business to manage, and self-esteem squashed, I made a deal with God (I know, you aren’t supposed to do that, but I did). I promised that if God sent a buyer for my business I would spend a year at home on our farm getting to know Him. The buyer came and I went home to the farm.
Without all that pain and suffering, I don’t know if I would have had the hunger, the yearning, for something deep within that was calling to me. It was as though an almost extinguished flame was flickering in my innermost being, gasping for oxygen,trying desperately to continue burning. Apparently I could feel the flicker and it was enough to give me the hope that all was not lost.
During that year at the farm I soaked up scripture. I spent hours and hours really seeing nature, finding relationships between the seasons of the year and the seasons of my life. I learned to pray. I stopped praying for things and started praying for relationship. My heart continued to love my husband and sons but my soul fell in love with the Lord.
Now, 15 years later, I am longing for that love again. I have become busy. First with the work of church and now with the work of community building. I have let my prayer life fit into bits and pieces of time between projects. Taking time for this blog now and again is bringing oxygen to that flickering flame. My soul is again longing to be intimate with the Lord.
Thank you, ladies, for helping me find my way back inside to that longing.
Janet — I’m so glad you kept your promise to God. What an amazing story.
I’m glad the sisters are oxygen to you, for you surely are oxygen to us.
Great word picture — oxygen to a flickering flame. Glad you are writing books and blogging!
Sometimes, I write my prayers out on paper. Here is the prayer I wrote this morning.
Thank you for being here – when I feel alone or afraid. I know that these are just my feelings – they are not the truth. For you said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Thank you for being a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Thank you for your faithful love through the many years of my life.
Father, help me to get my eyes on you. Help me take my eyes off myself – off others.
Father, I feel so disappointed with my friend. I feel betrayed, hurt, angry, sad. I know it was a gift from your hand – but do all the gifts you give here on earth come to an end?
Father – restore unto me – the joy and the hope – I once had.
Many arrows have pierced my heart. I am wounded and still bleeding on the inside. It is hard to trust – to hope.
What did I do wrong Father? Heal me Father, and I will be healed.
My betrayers were my “safe people”. Like David said – we walked and talked together about you! It pierces me to my very heart – is there anyone who is safe?
Does anyone really follow after you? Does anyone really love others?
Make me that one Father – heal my heart.
Jamie thank you for your prayer it is moving…
I need Jesus to be the lover of my soul, I need him in the very depths of me & I need to trust he won’t give up on me due to my heart & I know he says he won’t I need to pursue the lover of my soul.Ultimately who else is there? May I learn to be as Mary & hang off My Lord’s every word & adore Him. Again Dee I give thanks for the asking these questions, I do ponder them through out the week & have conversations with the Lord about them. I’m deeply blessed by the thoughts & comments made in the wider body of Christ.
Thank you, Elizabeth. You encourage me and each of us.
Jamie — it hurts so much to be betrayed. I’m so sorry for your pain. You are going to the One who understands what it means to be betrayed and who will never betray you. Thanks for letting us into your heart and prayer journal.
Dee, it’s not just my pain. If they betrayed me Dee alone, I could live with that. I am just a person, as they are just people, and as people sometimes we fail one another, we fail ourselves, and sometimes we fail God. But my pain is much deeper than that. These are people who have walked away from the Lord – my beloved’s Dee. It is not me they have betrayed, tho I do feel their betrayal – but my heart breaks and weeps for that.
I have been married for over 25 years to a man who is so emotionally closed, we’ve never had a soul-baring conversation. He is so physically closed, we have no physical contact whatsoever. I have cried and cajoled and begged God to change this man. I have been angry, been wounded, been confused, and been depressed. Finally accepting, after 25 years, that things are not going to change…I whispered last night to Jesus that I don’t know why I’ve never had the blessing of a soulmate, a lover. He whispered into my heart that it was because He wanted me for Himself. I have been weeping tears of joy since. I don’t know how to live this, exactly, but I am ready to accept and take the journey.
P.S. I am reading “Idol Lies” right now.
I love this, thank you Dee!