DAY 14 - WHERE DID LOVE GO?
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 3
I remember clenching a shovel during a cold bitter snowstorm late one night in Buffalo, New York. This was a season in my life where I was “in between” jobs, and come to think of it, I was “in between” all my relationships (both with God and friends). You know that place where you are just hanging on? Not the cool hanging on where you are just having a bad day for a minute. This was really hanging on! The kind where you’re hanging onto a steel bridge, towering far above the water. Your fragile heart is pounding. Your hands are desperately squeezing a rusty steel beam, which is cutting into your already exhausted hands. To make matters worse, you don’t know where God is—yeah that was the kind of “in between” I am talking about.
Well, there I was in one of those “in between” stages. And to be honest with you, I was tired of hanging on. I was tired of trying to find an escape from the gaping pain, strangling any thought of hope. I was tired of
trying again. It was at that point that I realized two things. First, no one
dangles well. Second, I needed a miracle.
I was working during the day for a snow removal company, which was located in Buffalo, New York, where we measure snow in feet. During
the evening, I worked alone as a night watchman. It was then that my girlfriend (and now wife) gave me a teaching on the LOVE of God, which just happened to be from the Song of Solomon. In this life altering teaching, I learned the story of Mary of Bethany. I listened to that teaching every night, sometimes twice a night.
Let me back up and give you the backdrop of this time in my
life. I had made some horrible choices, hurt a lot of people, and dug myself into a pit of despair. When I got low enough, I threw away the shovel, sat down, and gave up. Hopefully, you have never been there, but if you have then you know.
It was there that I faced a lot of things. Such as pride, which is a vile demonic henchman, and I had to face the depravity of my own soul. The thing about snow removal and being a night watchman is you spend a lot of time alone—I mean you’re really alone and wonder where everyone is. The man whose shift I replaced each night, had the 3 to 11 pm slot. He was a really poor man, whose words I could not understand when he spoke. His teeth were falling out, and he had severe gum disease (he would talk on our office phone a lot and caused it to smell of rotting flesh.) He owed someone a lot of money, because at the end of his shift (payday was twice a month), someone was lurking in the
bushes and always took his paycheck. Also, this man had a severe porn
addiction, which controlled his life, (this was before smartphones, so his work locker was overflowing with filthy magazines). But it was also a place where I grew in compassion for him. “How?” you might ask.
Well, it was at that point that God triumphantly rescued me. He did not take me out of that vile situation, but gave me the tools to rise up in the strength of what He had already purchased for me at the cross. He showed me that when I was in charge of my own life, I had failed—miserably. He had called me out of my comfort zone—IN LOVE—and tried to take me DEEPER in love. I begged for God to come pick me up, gently place me in a well-paying 9 to 5 job with sweet health insurance, a pool in the backyard, and a big truck parked out front. Instead of giving me what I wanted, He gave me what I needed—tools to grow in love with Him and gracefully defeat darkness.
I listened to those teachings on the Song of Solomon over
and over and over again until the tape wore out. (I did say tape, that is how old I am.) Each time the tape reached the story about Mary of Bethany, I wept. At first, they were tears of pain, but later as I let His love heal me, they became tears of relief.
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, was a woman who had
her own struggles. But remember she was the one that chose to sit at the feet of Jesus—she chose the better part (Luke 10:38-42). Since this woman resolutely loved Jesus, she poured out perfume—lavish perfume, a full year’s wages, upon the feet of Jesus. Immediately, Judas scoffs at her act, declaring it was a waste. Jesus, knowing the heart of this woman and the tumultuous task which lay ahead of Him, rightfully defends this woman for her righteous act. Later, when Jesus was to face the intense agony of the cross, He chose to go to her house (Mark 14:3-9). Why? He knew the love of her heart, and her love would minister to Him in His weakest hour.
Jesus declared it was all right for the woman to waste her
life savings by pouring it upon the feet of Jesus. She knew it was ok to LOVE God and be LOVED by Him. It is right to live your life wholeheartedly for Jesus. You see, I had never met the Jesus who loved me and wanted to be loved by me. Instead, I kept my distance from Him, worked really hard, and tried to earn His favor by doing what was right, which I never could do. Instead of allowing me to work harder, He compassionately and skillfully confronted me.
You see, while a snow shoveling night watchman, I thought my life was completely falling apart (and by the world’s standards it was). But my life was not falling apart; it was being torn apart by a loving Father. He was confronting my “trying harder,” and my “work hard and maybe God will like you,” issue. He was deliberately confronting all that hindered me from receiving His love.
It was a hard season. One that I never want to go through
again. But it was necessary for me to stop striving, stop allowing the past to rule my future, stop agreeing with the tormenting lies attacking my mind, and start allowing His love to penetrate the hardness of my heart. (I still had to work hard by reading my Bible even when I did not feel like it.) You see love does win, but only when it is the strongest love of them all—LOVE from God.
So where are we in the story of the Shulamite? Oh, yes, we
were at the point where she told Solomon to go away. She told the king he had to go to war without her. And it is right there that we shall see what happens next. And, of course, we will see if this story fits into your life. So let’s
“By night on my bed I sought the one I love; (Song of Solomon 3:1)
So, king Solomon turns and walks away from her. She stays in the room of comfort, and he goes off to war. She then goes to bed—ALONE! Her lover, friend, and companion is gone. She is utterly alone. This is her first test. The battle in her mind. Undoubtedly, her mind races with thoughts. Did I make the right decision? Is he alive? Will he be mad? Will he love me the same? Maybe you have gone through this time. Then again, maybe you have not, but you will. This moment is inevitable. God will call you upon the mountains. He will call you out of your comfort. He will call you to go with Him where He is. How will you respond?
I sought him, but I did not find him. “I will rise now,” I said, “and go about the
city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought
him, but I did not find him.” (Song of Solomon 3:2)
She reaches that moment of quiet desperation. The pain is too much. This is the dark night of her soul. This is the hardest moment in her existence with king Solomon. She realizes her mistake, her compromise, her lack of obedience; her rebellion has ruined her life. King Solomon was the best thing that has ever happened to her, and now he is gone. She now makes the decision to leave the comfort zone of her bed and search for the one that she loves. Maybe you have reached that moment with the Lord. Maybe you have gone through the dark night of your soul, and you feel the pain of being separated from Him. He called you away, but you did not obey, and then you decided to obey. That is a beautiful place. Why?
Fear no longer has a hold on you, and now you can grow in love. Once you get up and walk away, fear of the future is gone. And, maybe, just maybe that was God’s plan all along. Maybe He was already trying to make sure you’d break free. Next, you mature in love because you are saying yes to leaving your comfort zone and growing closer to LOVE. You are saying yes to obedience. You are saying yes to His kingdom come and His will being done. And maybe, just maybe, this was in His plan the whole time.
Then she makes the choice to “go about the city; in the streets and squares.” This is her second test of her new victory, and the clear action she must take. She has got up from the bed of comfort. She has broken the bonds of fear, and now she is going to search for king Solomon. She has to face the pain that comes from what people think and say to her. People can hurt you. And people can lift you up. But she is facing the fear of what they may think and say. In your life with God, when His presence has left you, you will have to go about the city. You will have to talk to people. And they might not say things that are helpful. But you will have to face people because that is the third action you need to do to get out of the dark night of the soul, and seek the One that you love.
Then, she seeks him but does not find him. This is her third test. She is looking for him, again, and again. And that is exactly what she has to do. But she has to go deeper. She has to go beyond an initial feeling of just wanting the pain to go away; she has to press beyond and keep looking for the king. She has to continue to face the people over and over again. She had to do this in searching for king Solomon. You will have to do it in order to search for God after He has called you. After all, He is the Beloved, and she is searching for the one that she loves. So we mustn't give up, we have to persist.
“The watchmen who go about the city found
me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” (Song of Solomon 3:3)
The watchmen would have been assigned to guard the city. They would have to give an account for all that happened throughout each night. And then her fourth test brings her face to face with the leaders in her life. But notice what she asks. “Have you seen the one I love?” She is madly in love with king Solomon, and at this point desperately desires to find him. But the leaders, how will they respond? How do leaders usually respond? Are they kind and gentle? Or not?
Sometimes they are kind and gentle, but you cannot feel their kindness because of your pain. Remember the final goal of this test is about finding the one you love. In your own walk you will face this fifth test, when the leaders come, because that is what leaders do. They are made by God, so they come, and they tell you how things are really supposed to be, and hopefully they lead in love.
“Scarcely had I passed by them,
When I found the one I love.
I held him and would not let him go,
Until I had brought him to the house of my
mother, And into the chamber of her who conceived
me.” (Song of Solomon 3:4)
Scarcely had she passed by the watchmen, the leaders, and she was able to find him. This is major. She was not offended by the watchmen, and she continued to pursue king Solomon. The watchmen would have made a circle around king Solomon, guarding him, protecting his life—their lives for his. But scarcely had she passed by. That means he was right there. He was looking for her just as she was looking for him. This is love. She loves him, and he loves her. Solomon left her, but not because he was mad at her. Instead, he was in love with her, he had to go to war, BUT he desperately loved her, and wanted to be with her.
Here is her fifth test in this season of life. Will she be offended at Solomon, or will she reach out in love? Will she justify her actions, or will she vulnerably give in and seek forgiveness? The Shulamite, the one found dark but lovely, working in another’s field, responds in love. She reaches out and embraces him. She is not ashamed of her past rebellion. She is not mad or offended at king Solomon. Instead, she cooperates with grace, says yes to his kingdom, and grows in love.
You have to know this about God, because He loves you, and He calls you out of one season into the next. He confronts rebellion, not because He is mad at you. Instead, He is the perfect leader and knows how to grow your heart in love. The Father displays this kind of love in the parable of the good father (Luke 15:11-32). Remember how the younger son insultingly asks for his inheritance, spends it on foolish living, and then repents when the Heavenly Father sends a famine on the land. In the midst of the divine pressure, he meekly returns to his father's house. It is there that his father graciously reaches out to his son--bridging their bond again--through LOVE. In your life, God is not mostly mad at you. He is waiting and longing to be with you where He is! (John 17:24)
“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 3:5)
This is her sixth and final test of this season of her life. Will she be a messenger? Will she allow her testimony of weakness, and God’s rescue, strengthen others? Or will she shrink back in fear, attempt to look like everything is ok, and tell her friends life is all good? She chooses wisely. After all, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10). When you share the testimony of what God has done, faith is released, and others can trust in God to rescue them also. This is a huge test, because we don’t like weakness. But when we are weak, He is strong (2 Cor. 12:10).
Then, she became a messenger of love as she shares with her friends. She disobeyed; she was at fault. She wanted to stay in her comfort and not arise. She was not kingdom-minded, but comfort-minded, and king Solomon knew that. He knew she was in it for the love, for wealth, for comfort. But notice, king Solomon did not mention that until it was time. He did not confront her sincere, but weak love until it was time. He was amazingly gentle in his leadership over her life. And it drew her out of her bed of comfort, past the five tests, and into kingdom partnership. He did not force her, he never forced her. Remember, God will never force you, but He will gently lead you. How you respond is up to you.
Today's teaching may have really touched your heart. If so, just take a minute to breathe. Just let God take the weight of your burdens. Ok, so have you had a point like this in your life? A moment where God called you to come, but you stayed in comfort? If so, it may be time to say I am sorry, and go on the journey of finding the One you love. If so, let’s do this; tell God you’re sorry. After you tell Him you’re sorry, pray the prayer below. Remember God is not mostly mad, He is MOSTLY GLAD!!!
“Father, I know that You are good. I am sorry for not responding in love. I stayed in comfort. Forgive me, and fill me with Your love. Help me to go on a journey to find You. I ask that today, as I take this step, You would meet me.”
Today, this is just a “say hi” day. Send them a text or tell them “hi.” Maybe send them a Christian music video (you choose which one you think will bless them.)
“Father, Your Son Jesus loves You, loves me, and loves __________. Today I want to feel Your love for them. Help me to grow in love. I want my intercession to be rooted and grounded in Love. Father, give me the video that will bless them. The one that will speak directly to their heart. Help me to grow in love.”
(Pray whatever else Christ puts on your heart).
Have you been blessed by this and want to be a blessing?
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