- Houston4JESUS team
DAY 18 - WHERE IS MY BELOVED?
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Read the Bible verses related to each devotion.
Then follow the actions and prayers for yourself and a nonbeliever at the bottom of the page.
READ Song of Solomon 5
I was in the darkest, most painful struggle of my early adult life. I had been wronged by the few, while my actions had hurt many. During this extremely challenging season, I was given the message of the Song of Solomon by my girlfriend (and now my amazingly beautiful wife). And when I realized that God, the KING of the Universe valued me, loved me, and traveled the universe to win my heart—I was astounded.
At that season of my life, I had stopped pursuing my life goal of law school to nervously, but enthusiastically, answer the call to work as a campus minister. Honestly, this was totally unexpected on my part, but something that God made crystal clear was a path I should choose. After years of faithfully serving with a heart that was broken and a knee that was dislocated, I lost my full-time ministry position and ended up getting a job as a night watchman. At that point I had hit rock bottom.
It was in this season that I just diligently studied the Song of Solomon each night, but I could not understand anything; I just took it by faith. Every night I studied the Song of Solomon for two hours, journaled for one hour, prayed and worshipped for two hours, shoveled snow, swept, and cried. Desperately, I prayed every night, vehemently crying out, “God, if you are there, help me.” In actuality, I could not feel Him, and I had so many doubts warring in my mind. I would cry out, “Fill me with this LOVE that I am reading about because I am in pain.” I prayed this prayer, or one like it with violent, rash, desperate pleas. I begged that He would take away the empty grating pain and fill my heart with His Love.
I can’t tell you how many times I prayed. But I prayed until He answered. I prayed until the pain was gone. I prayed until I could sleep at night. I prayed until guilt and shame stopped slicing the TRUTH out of my mind. I prayed until He took me into the chamber of LOVE. And you know what, I cannot mark that day when He answered my plea, but I can say that He progressively touched my heart moment by moment. The KING of Heaven rescued me. And HE has taken me into His chamber. Why? Because He first loved me (1 John 4:19.)
Let LOVE rescue YOU. Let LOVE take you into the chamber.
Ok, let’s speed up fifteen years. And before we get into the Song of Solomon, let me tell you about another story. This is a story about me…no this is a story about Jesus, and how He rescued me. I was in a great place in my life: God had paid my bills. My wife and kids were so happy. I was super fruitful in ministry, and I was confident and in love with God. I was launching out in a new city, the beautiful city of Richmond, VA. I had joined with fiery amazing people to plant a prayer room in a dilapidated building in the midst of a strip club, bars, restaurants, and a memorial to Edgar Allen Poe.
I don’t know if you have ever been to Richmond, but it is an awesome city. There is a rich history from the founding of our nation to the battles of the Civil War. It seemed on every corner, you could learn something historic and significant. The church there is also amazing and beautiful. I loved my season, but I was not prepared for what was about to happen.
God had spoken significantly to me and my wife. We sold our house, moved to Richmond, and then started our newfound life. Things seemed to be going great until that one night when everything changed. I went to the prayer room, to worship and something strange occurred. I could not feel His presence. Ok, no problem I thought, “I will just go home and play my favorite worship CD, in my favorite place, and then I will feel Him.” But He never came.
Now, a lot more desperate, I went on an extended fast, and I knew, from experience, that God would meet me during that fast. But, no, I did not feel Him then either. So, without losing hope I went on a journey of trying to find Him.
Each morning I would arise, read my Bible, worship, and pray. I sought Him, but I did not find Him. After a year of not finding Him, I lost trust in my relationship with my wife (I was not providing nor protecting her), my name was being smeared, and I lost my place in ministry. I was truly at a low, low point. But I was confident that God still loved me no matter what, so I held on. With that let’s pull back the curtain and peer in on another night in the life of the Shulamite.
As you recall King Solomon said,
“I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.” (Song 5:1)
The Shulamite has grown up; she has matured in love. Her life is no longer her own. She is saying yes to following the king wherever he goes. And her life is a garden for her beloved. Her life is fruitful in producing for the kingdom. And then the second BIG shock of her life happens as she is contently sleeping upon her bed.
“I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my Beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for Me, My sister, My love, My dove, My perfect one; for My head is covered with dew, My locks [hair] with the drops of the night.” (Song 5:2)
The Shulamite is asleep on her bed, and she is awakened to the voice of her Beloved. He knocked on her door, and he asked that she would open the door. But what is awesome is how he speaks to her. He calls her my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one. He is speaking with endearment and affection to her. His head and hair are covered with the night dew. This means he has been outside, vigorously active, and he is calling to her again.
Jesus was also in a similar state, when He invited the disciples to stay up and tarry with Him for an hour. (Matt. 26:40) He was in the garden of Gethsemane in the dark night where His hair was covered with dew. He was inviting the disciplines into a deeper place of intimacy. He was inviting them to respond to His emotions in the depths of despair. Today, God is inviting you to tarry with Him for an hour. He is inviting you deeper into His emotions. We can find this by going deep in the Scriptures and finding His heart, and we can seek what the Holy Spirit is sharing about circumstances all around us. Either way, Jesus is covered with dew and inviting us into an intimate place. Will we be found watching?
“I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them? My Beloved put His hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for Him. I arose to open for my Beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh…on the handles of the lock.” (Song 5:3-5)
The Bride instantly arose in obedience to the king. She is in full obedience. She is able to respond quickly because she is looking, listening, leaning on her Beloved. Her heart is not cluttered with outside thoughts and feelings, she is yearning for Him. So instantly, she jumps up and reaches for the door. There she finds that the door handle is covered with myrrh. Myrrh was a burial spice. The king was in a hard season, a night season, a season where he needed her. But when she opens the door…
“I opened for my Beloved, but my Beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when He spoke. I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.” (Song 5:6)
She immediately opens the door and finds the shock of her life; the king is not there. Why? Because he had turned away, and she did not know why. And that is the worst feeling in the world. So intensely she shouts out to find him. Remembering once before that he was not there, she reaches out, desperately trying to find him. The whole time, her heart is frantically searching for him. Questions arise in her heart, casting doubt, but still she searches on. She is a little confused. Last time the king was gone, she had been in rebellion. But this time she had obeyed. Where was he?
“The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me.” (Song 5:7)
Her mind raced to the last time this happened. What had she done to find him? Well, she had gone to the watchmen, and then she had found the king. Surely, if the night watchmen are doing their job, then they will know where the king is. But when they found her, they wound her and they take her veil away. In a moment, all is stripped away. Her heart is broken, because the king is gone, and the watchmen don’t actually believe she is married to the king, so they treat her like a street urchin as they strike her down.
There may be a time when Jesus is not there. Maybe you are doing everything right in your life. Maybe, just maybe, you went to the leaders and asked, “Where is God in this season of my life?” And maybe, they lashed out at you. Or, the words they declared smeared your identity. And sometimes the leaders take away your ministry, because after all, “You don’t actually know where God is. So, how can you be in charge of a ministry in this season?” And just maybe, in that season, everyone around you whispers, points, and has conversations about you. How will you respond? How would anyone respond?
“O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved…tell Him that I am lovesick!” (Song 5:8)
The Shulamite, who is the Bride, responds with maturity and confidence in love. She is not mad at the king. Remember, she is still a messenger to those around her. She trusts the king. She is not in it just for her feelings. She is not in the relationship for what she can get out of it. Instead, she is in it for the king and his kingdom. So, while she is beaten, distraught, and disheveled, she reaches out to those around her and shares her inner feelings. If you find the king tell him that I love him. And this message will get to the king eventually, because all messages have a way of getting out.
In the same way, how will you respond when Jesus is not there? Seriously, what will you say to those around you, when you can’t feel the Lord? I hope and pray that you can still say, “Tell Him I am lovesick.” And when you share the message of hope, it is amazing how others respond.
“What is your Beloved more than another beloved, O fairest [most beautiful] among women? What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?” (Song 5:9)
The young people around the Shulamite ask her, “Why do you love him? Tell us, why are you still in love with the king? I mean, he knocked on your door, and then was gone. The watchmen beat you and took your veil away. Other people are talking about how messed up you are. How can you stand there and say you are lovesick? How can you still care about him? Where is he? And why do you love him so?”
When God is gone, when all circumstances point to God being absent in your life, what will you say? Will you have an answer? I hope you do. If you don’t, then just study the response of the Shulamite, and learn from her. She responds with excellence of heart.
"My beloved is white [dazzling, NAS]…and chief among ten thousand. 11His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy…12His eyes are like doves…13His cheeks are like a bed of spices…His lips are lilies…14His hands are rods of gold…His body is carved ivory…15His legs are pillars of marble…His countenance is like Lebanon…16His mouth is most sweet, Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my friend…" (Song 5:10-16)
The first thing she says is, the king is chief among ten thousand. She is declaring that he is a leader among leaders. There is no one like him. He is truly outstanding in his field. What? She has just lost the king, her identity, and she has been beaten. All this because the king called her.
She could have said, “The king should have been there for me.” Or, “He is not a real man, letting me get in this mess.” No, she responds by saying there is no one like him. Then she speaks life over his attributes. She now ministers to him even in his absence. This means she now looks at him more than what he does for her. Instead, she looks deep into his heart and gifting. She knows the king loves her and loves the kingdom. She has learned to affirm the attributes of the king. He has affirmed her in her dark moments before. And now she speaks over him by declaring:
1. His head: the Lord’s sovereign leadership overall.
2. His locks: the Lord’s dedication to the Father and His Church.
3. His eyes: the Lord’s infinite knowledge, wisdom, understanding, discernment
4. His cheeks: the Lord’s diverse emotional makeup
5. His lips: God’s word
6. His hands: the Lord’s divine activity
7. His body: the Lord’s tender compassion
8. His legs: the Lord’s walk and administration of His purposes
9. His countenance: God’s impartation to His people
10. His mouth: Intimacy with God
11. He is altogether lovely: His comprehensive beauty
12. He is my Beloved and my Friend
How do you see God when He is not there? When Lazarus died, Martha said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:21-22) Martha trusted Jesus even in her darkest storm. And so can you. Jesus can mature your love so that in the darkest moments, when Jesus is not there, you can still be a messenger and minister to Him. The best is yet to come.
Today, is a beautiful day for you. It is the day that the Lord has made. It is a day of full surrender. So, surrender to Him. Declare that even when you can’t feel Him; even when He is gone, or silent, you will still be a messenger for Him and a minister to Him.
“Father, when I can’t feel You, when my spouse, kids, friends, and co-workers attack me, when all hope seems lost, grant me grace to love You with an unoffended heart. Give me grace to be a messenger about You to others, and give me grace to minister to Your heart.”
Today, can you take a walk with them? If so reach out, maybe during lunchtime, and take a walk. If not today, then schedule for another.
“Father, as this fast approaches an end, I ask for Your help. Break the power of darkness and release Your light. Let Your Holy Spirit pierce the darkness and shine Your light into their life. Let today be a day of new life. Revive them!”
Have you been blessed by this and want to be a blessing?