Suffering With Purpose: Intimacy

Soldiers who’ve been through the trenches together know it to be true. There is a bond that occurs through heightened times of difficulty that is stronger and deeper than those formed in casual, pleasant seasons of our lives (& relationships). There is no tie like that formed by ‘going through hard times together.’

Song of Songs 3 promotes this as it’s context for deepest loves’ discovery… “In the night” the chapter begins… and verse six adds “the wilderness” as the ‘place’ for  most intimate bonding between Lover and Beloved.

We know that tragedy either makes or breaks human love affairs. In God’s Kingdom, there is a sacred ‘place’ provided for those in the ‘night’ or ‘wilderness’ seasons of their lives. It is described as (3:9) a “palanquin.” A traveling bridal car, carved of Lebanon cedar (known for it’s strength) and clothed in colors of silver (redemption), gold (glory) and purple (royalty). It is accompanied – surrounded – by sixty mighty men who handle the sword and are expert in war… “that fear be not excited in the night.”

What a profound pictue of reality in the spiritual Kingdom that surrounds us!

In the night seasons of life, in the wilderness journeying times, we are offered this ‘place’ of secluded, protected ‘bridal love’ with Jesus. It is not to be found in the casual, easy, happy periods of life – but as treasure hidden in darkness – a profound reward for our sufferings, discovered when in the midst of difficulties – we seek Him, whom our soul loves.

Isaiah 45:3 And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name.

Genesis 15:1 Fear not… I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great.

Jesus,
In the sufferings, I seek You, whom my soul longs for.
Come find me here, hidden in the wilderness. Take me into the secret place of refreshment and protected love with you that only my depth of difficulties gives me access to.
Let me, after these experiences emerge from my wilderness season – “leaning on My Beloved.”(8:5) That will be worth it all!

Amen

The Season of Flourishing Love

One morning some time ago I woke up to God’s voice saying to my spirit a most profound but simple thing: “Janet, you are not there until you are there. It’s not over until it’s over. You’re not done until you’re done.” 

Months before, I had gone to sleep with my journal open before the Lord and as big as I could write the letters over several consecutive pages I’d scribbled the despairing words, “HOW LONG OH LORD, HOW LONG?” His answer seemed late, strange and so unassuming. He is quite secure; unmoved by our desperateness and unrushed as He deeply considers what is best for us.

I am in an entirely different season of life by now – but those lessons never leave me as I counsel God’s children through their pain on a daily basis. Long ago someone told me God was making of me a ‘Moses’ who would know the way and lead many out of bondage, through the wild lands (the wilderness) and into His promised inheritance.

Lately, God is revealing His heart to me in new and awe-inspiring ways. He is giving me greater glimpses of what our difficult journey’s are for, in His loving heart. 

My life’s journey, in time, has allowed Him to forge much fruitfulness in the garden of my heart. This ‘Season of Fruitfulness’ is described in Song of Songs 2:15-16: “Our vineyards are in blossom. My Beloved is mine and I am His! He pastures His flocks among the lilies.”  Those lilies in ‘our vineyards’ are the one’s I tend to, with the love He’s born in me. This love in me is the fruit of understanding His heart for me in Song of Songs 2:3: “Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters.” When we understand who we are, we can lead other’s (many daughters) to drink of the same revelation.

My life is Your vineyard,
it belongs to “us.”
You pasture “your flocks” there
to heal and to bless.
All whom I love –
Your lilies midst thorns,
the flowers and fruits
my labor has born.
The singing of birds
and voice of Your dove
proclaim this the season
of flourishing love.

The Vine and the Keeper
the branch that is kept
the fruits and the flowers
~ by Your Glory swept.

God’s heart is to bring us into ‘The Season of Fruitfulness’ not only, but beyond that to the full climax of ‘The Season of Flourishing Love.’ It, too, is described in Song of Songs (AMP): 

Song of Songs 5:1:
“Eat, O friends, [feast on, O revelers of the palace;
you can never make my lover disloyal to me]!

Drink, yes, drink abundantly of love,
O precious one
[for now I know you are Mine, irrevocably Mine!”

This is His fantastic heart. In ‘The Season of Flourishing Love,’ He says, “I can now bless you as I desire to, without threat of you deserting Me for the wonders of the blessings I impart!” If we receive the abundance of love too early, before our heart is loyal to The King alone; we are prone to eat it for ourselves as gluttons. If we minister to the masses, with too many unmet needs of our own, we will consume the riches and bring glory to our self instead of the Father. Arising in authority is a carefully timed dance with the Lover of our Souls; Who watches over His dreams for us with a jealous love that we will not turn to ‘other loves’ in the process.

This was God’s purpose in the testing of Abraham’s faith when he was required to sacrifice Isaac. 

Genesis 22:12
For now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your one and only son.

Genesis 22:16-18
I have sworn by Myself, says the Lord that since you have done this and have not withheld [from Me] or begrudged [giving Me] your son, your only son, In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sands on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies. And in your Seed [Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed and [by Him] bless themselves, because you have heard and obeyed my voice.

PRAYER

Dear Beloved Shepherd,

Bring me through all the seasons necessary
to come into the ‘Season of Flourishing Love!’
Do what You must in my life,
until You can say ‘For now I know’ 
you are irrevocably Mine,
and you will not hold back or begrudge me
any blessing I give you.
How I desire to reach the plateau of trust in Your mighty heart
that releases Your blessings as a massive waterfall
through my life,
so all you send me to
can feast.
Make me trustworthy, O God,
to drink abundantly of love!

Your Beloved Vineyard.

Thoughts on Pain & Pleasure

I recently became a new grandma — Hudson is the first child of my own children… and there is nothing quit like it.

I have been particularly struck by the relationship of pain and pleasure through observing the whole experience. At first, Luke & Bonnie were rather ‘traumatized’ by the 17 hour labor, including 3 hours of pushing… and this — the price — for the most amazing, blessed event of their lives! Scripture does make it clear that ‘Suffering’ is very connected to ‘Glory’ — in this case — the glorious, sought after beginning of such a precious new child’s life! It seems we cannot have the one without the other.

Romans 8:17-18 We share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. [NIV]

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 Therefore we do not lose heart… For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. [NIV] (The AMP version calls it: “an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculation, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!“)

John 16:21-22 A woman, when she gives birth to a child, has grief (anguish, agony) because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she no longer remembers her pain (trouble, anguish) because she is so glad that a man (a child, a human being) has been born into the world.

Hebrews 1:10 For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped…] through suffering.

I am re-reading one of my favorite classics at the moment: Hind’s Feet On High Places. It is now available in a devotional form, with the original story along side a daily meditation – I highly recommend it! In Hannah Hurnard’s story, a lowly servant girl named ‘Much-afraid’ makes her journey to the High Places – into the Kingdom of Love. There she will receive her new name: “Grace & Glory.” Her curious journey companions, given her by the Good Shepherd Himself, are ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Suffering’. At first she despises that these are to be her companions, but they alone can be trusted to show her the way. How human – we all desire Grace without sorrow and Glory without Suffering. I do, at least. But as an inspirational mentor in my life often says: “Come to Jesus for free… but to have Christ formed in you will cost you everything.” Sometimes I hate it… but the most worthwhile things in life are by far  the most expensive. 

Hudson Lucas is proof enough.

Dear Lord,
Let me not call you Lord and still want my own way. Your ways are higher than mine and your thoughts than my thoughts.

Thank You that all Your ways are perfect and that You are making my way perfect. Thank You that You are The Father of Lights who gives only good and perfect gifts to Your children. When I ask You for a loaf of bread, you do not hand me a stone. When I ask for a fish, You do not hand me a serpent. 

When my heart grows faint within me – You alone know the way that I take. When I journey through suffering, you are perfecting me to be like Your glorious Son. Is there something I would rather be??? NO.

No wonder Paul said he was in labor until Christ was formed in those he loved. And You’ve promised that Christ in me is the hope of Glory! You have my permission today to continue forming Christ in me. 

Your child,
_____________

Being Humble

It’s Friday morning… one of my favorites. After a full week of counseling, I very much need to let my hair down in an unhurried pace. I love people, but I can only love them well when I have time for my own soul to be restored. That is best done for me in unhurried quiet with God. On Friday mornings, I don’t even want to see Ron (which is somewhat confusing for him and somewhat unfair – but he is getting used to me and my needs).

So, today, my soul was weary and burdened. I saw myself enter My Daddy’s throne room and walk toward Him, sit at His feet, and just rest against His legs. I needed His attention, to feel His strength, to be assured. He lifted me onto His lap and nestled me against His chest. He rocked me. He reminded me the way is always open, and this was always my place. I felt I could stay there all day. But Jesus came bursting in from what seemed a side door and joyously invited me to an adventure with Him out in the sunshine (yes, it’s ‘sunning’ in the Northwest this morning). I felt like a little child being invited on a picnic. His joy was infectious!

So, I had a Pecan Blackberry Bran Muffin with Ron, then donned my sweats and dirty tennies and slipped out the door for a walk in the woods. I was especially aware of Jesus’ companionship, walking on my left side. A ways into my normal trail, I just paused and stood in the isolated quiet for a long time. I drank in the refreshing aloneness, the beauty, the green, and all the birds’ songs. I loved just being alone with my Jesus. I wanted more than Him beside me – I wanted to be ‘in’ Him. He is my safe place. My refuge. My rock of strength. I stepped into Him. The verse, “For me, to live is Christ,” came to mind. I heard the sound of Angie (Stogdill’s) voice singing a favorite song: “You Surround Me.” (Thanks, Angie, for being there : ). My spirit resonated with “I must have more of you.” I heard, “You need me more than sleep.” (I’ve been sleeping in lately and not had as much essential quiet time). Then I heard Him say to me, “I must have more of you.” I realized that I am much like a car – if I do not get regular oil changes, I don’t run very well. I have come to know in life that to be “me” and to do what I do requires “high maintenance”, spiritually speaking.  I began to walk again, pondering this need to stay “vitally united” with The Vine. I felt deeply refreshed, rejuvenated, calmed. Relaxed, in Him.

I sauntered home in the sun, planning to stop by my computer and humbly share this with you, my readers. It is humbling to be open with you – “letting you in” to know me and my walk with Him… especially not even knowing who “you” will exactly be. I have attached to His idea of “humility”, since He inspired that blog the other day…

So, I hope my blessing this morning blesses you. I am off to Delayne’s to get my hair colored. She is a very special friend – a safe haven for my heart. Delightful. Both deep and fun. Very sunshiny, like Jesus. It is a privilege to call her friend. 

Have a blessed Friday, and drink deeper of HIm. He is the answer to all your needs.

Humility = An Open Heart

Humility = You may know me – my heart is open to you.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me… (that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things).

God not only allows us to know Him, but He longs for us to understand and know who He is. Think about it. How deep is your own desire to “be known”… to “be understood?” I have realized in myself that this is one of my deepest desires… to know and to be known. I so want to be understood, don’t you? I want someone to take the time to see who I am…  to ‘get me’… to understand what I’m like… and, of course, like what they come to know… to think it’s special, worth a lot, worth pursuing, spending effort on, spend time with what is discovered, as if it is precious to the beholder… as if “I” am precious, worth cherishing, worth knowing. And when someone is willing to even cost  themselves to understand me… wow, that says it all – I am LOVED.

I know this is uniquely true of feminine nature… but I am aware that this is truly the deepest desire of all human beings. It’s just what we, as women, bring to the table and have to offer in a particular way. We are the “pursuee”… men are the “pursuer.” It’s costly on both ends: for us, to stay open and vulnerable to the hope of being pursued and understood… and for men to pursue a treasure they desire without knowing the outcome ~ and most often not understanding the thing they seek. (My husband claims “Women are a vat… of endless wonder.” He has a very curious mind that longs to learn what he does not yet understand, but he claims I have given him a run for his money. I know some days he feels like giving up his pursuit.)

The key is: this desire in us comes from God Himself. He longs to be understood and known. It is part of us carrying His image – to be and stay open and longing for someone to know and “get” who we are.

I saw it in my new grandson yesterday. He, being fresh from Heaven, is unabashedly humble: open to love, open to being known. Just 9 days old, his eyes are bright, and I am sure he smiled at me as I cooed at him and told him how much I adored him.

We are drawn to this open-heartedness like flies to fly paper. It reminds us of who we most deeply are. We each, too, arrived, a fresh gift from Heaven, equipped to be known and to know. It is only later that we shut down or became closed because the response of some in our world didn’t understand us or care enough to take the time to know and delight in who we were. Pricked by rejection, one of Satan’s favorite schemes against us, a root of shame grew into a tree that began to shade the doorway to our heart and eventually may have attempted to hide the passageway altogether. Our humble openness became instead a guarded pathway emitting messages like “Don’t come near”… “No visitors welcome here”… or simply “Go away!”. Sadly, when we experience rejection, we usually become the rejector ~ and we as well as others miss the wonderful gift of knowing and getting to know. Thus, “sins against love” are perpetuated.

Humility is to be willing to be known. A humble heart is a heart that is open – that says “You may come in; you may know who I am. I am open to ‘you’.” All our self protection is simply pride. Pride has closed itself to others. It needs no input. It says, “Who cares if you love me – I need no one. You have nothing important to offer me. I have projected my wounds onto the human race – no one will love me well enough, including you, so go away. You are as terrible as the one who hurt me before. I am that important – no one may touch me or wound me again.” In the prison of pride, we rail against the barricades we have erected around ourselves. To be set free is to face our deepest fear – rejection – and open once again to love, to “‘being known.”

And God, in His kind wisdom says: boast in this – that you are one who is able to be in relationship. You are willing to know and understand another – so they can also enter into relationship with you. To be open to love, yielded, receptive to the value of input from someone beside yourself – this is the true essence of humility and also the true essence of love.

No wonder we go ga-ga over new babies… and when a child is in the room, we watch them like a mesmerizing fire. We are fascinated with the sheer openness they exude – and we have lost, long ago.

Oh Savior, save me.
Heal my heart of its wounds that have made me recoil from the very love I long for. I hide inside, unwilling to try again to know anyone else. I have given up and imprisoned my own self from opening to be known – and I am dying inside as a result. I forgive the ones who hurt me so. Forgive me for responding and nursing my grudges and building my barricades. Strengthen me to know that my desire to be understood and known is from You and is inherently good. Help me to emerge, with Your help, and attach to righteous desire once again – the desire for love. I am cold and lonely without it.

Thank you for being humble in heart. Thank you for being open to me – open to being known. You encourage me to come to You confidently and boldly. As I know You, I will be known in return and understand that I am loved.

What a blessed inheritance is mine: To know God – and be known by Him. To know other people – and be known by them. I choose love. I choose to open my heart to others. I choose to recognize in others that this is their need and desire as well. I forsake self protection that puts my needs before another’s and blocks the way to love. I am sorry for how much I, in my hurt, have hurt others.

Oh, Jesus, forgive our sins against love – and teach us to love. I choose to come into your heart today – with a desire to understand and know You. Thank You that the way to love is always open. It’s Your heart. A heart of lovingkindness, justice and righteousness. I come. Can I stay and mend awhile? So I can leave to love others better, having known and experienced the very source of love.

What a blessed inheritance.
I love you.
Amen.

God Thoughts on the Daffodil

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!  All around the old growth fir trees outside my kitchen window, lively yellow daffodils are in full, glorious bloom. They are truly an amazing flower – shaped like the sun,  with the center protruding forth like a trumpet – they seem to announce “Winter is past and Spring has sprung!”

Did you know that yellow is the color of ‘hope’? 

We have family members who live in California (where it’s mostly sunny year round) and in Michigan (where the year is divided into 2 basic seasons: a long cold snowy winter and a long hot sunny summer). But in Northwest Washington, I love the four distinct seasons. They have a message for us: This too shall pass! There is always hope for change!

When I was a new mother, I shared the journey with a dear friend I met in Lamaze. Cheryl and I would call each other on a hard day and encourage each other with the words, “This too shall pass!”

In my seventeen years as a Counselor of Christians in painful circumstances, I have absolutely embraced the truth that ‘There is always hope for change!’

Early in the fall of 1991 when my first marriage was ending in divorce, a God-thought peeked out through my numb heart, and I bought several hundred daffodil bulbs and planted them around my trees. That next Spring – deep in the grief of a devastating life change – they sprung up to promise me joy after mourning. And they have multiplied every year since.

Daffodils. Their sunny faces appear just as cold winter rains ebb away. They trumpet God’s heart and announce His promises will be fulfilled.

Go pick yourself a Daffodil – stare at it’s sunny face – and ponder God’s thoughts for you…

Song of Songs 2:10-11 For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing [of birds] has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. {AMP}

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {NIV}

Isaiah 61:11 For as [surely as] the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring forth, so [surely] the Lord God will cause rightness and justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations [through the self-fulfilling power of His word]. {AMP}

Which of God’s promises are being freshly proclaimed in your life as a new season springs forth all around?

It's time for BREAKTHROUGH!

Webster’s Dictionary defines Breakthrough this way: “The act, result, or place of gaining by force against set resistance, as of a flood through a dike or of armed forces through a defense line.”

We are told in Isaiah 45:2-3: I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will BREAK in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by name, Am the God of Israel.

We have just completed another amazing weekend journey with 70 people who went through our March 12-14 Awake & Arise Conference in Bellingham. It is a massive privilege to facilitate and see God transform so many lives. He’s so interested in setting us free to be all He created us to be!!!

I just received an email this morning from a 49-year-old man who shared, “I came to Awake & Arise with a fair amount of skepticism and really an unbelief of how this could really help ME… I felt this was something for someone else. As the hours of the event turned to days… I found myself in stunned amazement… the examination took me places I never realized were there. Though I come from a broken past (broken home, neglect, street gangs, and drugs), I had been touched by God in a very supernatural way in 2004 and figured the healing was finished… but this was something new and wonderful. The feeling of wholeness & freedom that engulfed me was as a finger wrapped with a rubber band, then unwrapped after hours. Thanks for your work in this ministry – it’s something every Christian should do!”

Breakthrough was the theme that God spoke to us for this particular A&A weekend.

There is a man in Scripture whose name means “breakthrough.” Perez’ story is one of an unlikely breaking through into his destiny – being part of the genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1:3).

One of the things that amazes me in Scripture is the deep dysfunction of all of the peoples’ lives as they are recorded. Studying the geneology of Christ should convince any one of us that we definitely qualify for the ‘family of God.’ God seems to want to make it clear that it’s a ‘come as you are party!’

Perez’ family history is a scandalous story (recorded in Genesis 38). His father, Judah, slept with his mother, Tamar, when she disguised herself as a temple prostitute along the road he was journeying one day. Tamar became pregnant, and when her time for delivery came – surprise! – there were twin boys in her womb! One began to be born, sticking his little hand out, and the midwife put a scarlet thread on his finger, saying, “This one was born first.” And then he drew back his hand, and his brother was born first instead! The midwife said, “What a breaking forth you have made for yourself!”… so, his name was called Perez (meaning “breaking forth”). Then his brother, with the scarlet thread on his hand, came out and was called Zerah (meaning: “He will shine from the margin”).

So, what does your ‘name’ mean? Mine (Janet Beth) means “House full of God’s grace.” Way beyond what I knew of who I was created to be… God has worked diligently throughout my life – just because I’ve continued to say “yes” to Him – to make me into the substance of what He meant when He meant ME.

YOU are more than you have yet become. Keep saying YES to Him (because He needs your permission) and He will make of your life more than you asked and better than you dreamed!

Prayer:

God,
It says in Ephesians 1 that You thought me up before the creation of the world. Huh? I haven’t lived like I matter THAT much to You or anyone else. I don’t even get it. What is ‘man’ that You are mindful of him or her?? (Psalm 8)
So, who did You actually mean when You meant ME? If there is more to who You made me to be than I have yet a clue… I hereby give You permission to work in my life to cause me to break through into the fullness of my destiny in Christ Jesus.

So, here’s my question: Who do You say that I am?

I am listening….
Your child, _____________________.

Simple Reflections of Christmas

…Wishing A Merry One to each of you.

As cars ‘slush’ by outside,
and layers of snow slowly slide off branches with the rain,
my favorite Josh Groben Christmas song plays
and I sit in my grandpa’s chair
drinking Bentley’s Peppermint Cane Tea
with what should be one of my last chocolate indulgences for the season.

Soon, I will soak in a bath of Cranberry bubbles
and read further in the Jane Kirkpatrick series I’m enjoying.
Ron will have others here this afternoon, 
to teach them early steps to carving,
while I work at my computer.

I cleaned up our dinner mess from last night
so enjoying
leisurely remembering each word and look of dear friends
as I scraped leftovers into warm sudsy water.

All this to say…
what rejuvenates me most of all
is an unhurried pace
& empty space,
with loved one’s recent smiles
to savor…
I take in every splendid detail,
if allowed the time,
and am my best self
in such moments.

My fondest dream is to be
surrounded by love
and visual abundance
with ambiance of cozy lights and smells – 
celebration & security – 
woven together,
seeping deep into my soul.

This sitting “until my spirit catches up with my body”
is foreign to my culture,
but precious to me.
Vital.
I suffocate without it.

My robe is as white as the snow,
fuzzy and soft;
my new slippers, 
warm and strong.
Breathing slowly…
in and out, in and out;
these moments of peace
are irreplaceable.

How can I
 regularly celebrate such solitude –
so essential for my life
and all I am?
This stabilizes me, 
produces the best fruit,
provides the rest,
from which thoughts
become a substance to bless.

 David said in Psalm 23, ” He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  Throughout the Gospels, this same Jesus who led David, often retreated into solitude, going up on a mountain to pray, slipping away to a lonely place early in the morning.

He will lead us as well —to slow down, unplug, accept the invitation to come aside. We won’t  find restoration  in the midst of the Matrix. We need quiet time in the presence of God.

Set aside some time to be quiet. Be still. Breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes. Simply savor every experience the holidays provided you. Let them become a part of  you. New colors to the warp and woof of the life that is ‘you.’  Wherever you are, whatever you do – keep becoming  yourself. You are special and Beloved. 

Breath deeply, my soul.
Be quiet within me.
Rest awhile.

You're His Favorite!

Song of  Solomon 1:1 THE SONG of songs [the most excellent of them all] which is Solomon’s. (AMP)

We are told in scripture that Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) originated 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs (Kings 4:32).  Out of all of his songs, this one is said to be “the most excellent of them all.” Have you ever wondered what makes this one the winner? 

I’ll never forget the day a young man with a thick English accent spoke at our church and passionately claimed about his relationship with God, “I’m His favorite!” At first, I thought, “That’s crazy, how can you say that? He likes you better than all the rest of us?!!” But as his message sunk in, I realized he was right…  that’s how each one of us is meant to feel. There is NO ONE like you, and YOU are God’s favorite! He’s really excited about the ‘you’ He created.

Scripture also tells us that Solomon had MANY wives (700 wives and 300 concubines! – I Kings 11:3). I find it fascinating that out of all his wives, this ‘song’ is to ONE of them… apparently, his FAVORITE! I believe that is why this song is called the most excellent of them all.

Song of Songs 1: 9 O my love [he said as he saw her], you remind me of my [favorite] mare in the chariot spans of Pharaoh. (Out of 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots – I Kings 4:26)

Song of Songs 2: 2 But Solomon replied, Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters.

Then, on top of that, this book of the Bible is believed by all to be about the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride – The Church. Think about it… God’s own expression of love for His Bride, which you are part of (if you love Him) is written to ONE among the many who make up ALL who are part of that Bride… YOU. 

As I’ve grown in my personal relationship with Him, I have come to accept this fact as true… as this most Beloved ONE to Solomon, among all his wives… so am I (!!!) to God’s heart. It’s hard to believe, but the more I do, the more personal The Song of Songs becomes. It is written to His Bride – but it is written, especially, to ‘ME.’ 

I’m inviting YOU to come on a journey with me in the days ahead, and discover what it means for YOUR LIFE that…

Isaiah 54:5 Your Maker is your Husband!

 

Prayer:

Today, Jesus, I dare to receive what you say about me…. 
You, The King of The Universe, are my own Husband,
and I am Your Beloved.

Today, I dare to believe…
I am Your favorite!

Why, Jesus? 
What do you love so about ME?
Please reveal Your love to me in fresh ways.

Give to me what you gave to Solomon…
Listening ears and a hearing heart” (I Kings 3: 9)
so I can begin to comprehend Your love 
for even ME.

Amen.

How God Bought Me a Car

I’m married now again… but for 12 wonderful (never thought I’d say that!) years I was single. A single mom of 3 boys. Those years of my life formed me through MUCH heartache, difficulty, wrestling and learning to trust God and God-in-me in ways that only trials can. But the overwhelming memory of those years (which ended 4 1/2 years ago) is what happened to me in my relationship with God. He proved Himself to me – and He proved what was in my heart to Himself. [Deuteronomy 8:2-3] 

Because of my desperate need, my spiritual life moved profoundly beyond the dry places of doctrine, theology and a belief system. I became His, and He mine. I came to know very personally – the Bridal Paradigm that structures all of scripture. We are not only “The Church” of Jesus Christ – but much more personally… we are “The Bride” of Jesus Christ. He loves His Church… as a Groom loves His Bride – that’s what we are individually and collectively – to Him. I have come to experience the SONG OF (all) SONGS as my own journey’s story-line… a walk of ever-increasing intimacy with Him – my Beloved. And just like this ‘One’ of all Solomon’s lovers… I came to understand that among all the individuals that make up the collective “Bridal Church” – I was “His favorite” – my story is irreplaceably ‘mine and His’ alone.

He cared for me throughout those years – as a husband. He became forever my “First Love.” Ron is a great husband and loves me well… but his love can never re-place or compare with Jesus’. It’s not meant to. He is OK with being No. 2.

One of my favorite stories of His husband care – is the time HE BOUGHT ME A CAR.

I knew my mini-van was nearing it’s last days… and prayed often as we drove down the road – (out loud, so the kids would hear and see how God would answer) – that this car would last until I could purchase a new one. I asked God to pick out the right car for me (because buying a car was not my thing and intimidated me). I told Him I’d trust His choice, but I thought I would really like a Ford Explorer. I had some money coming several months ahead, and as it neared, wasn’t yet looking for ‘the car that God would find me.’

One day, driving through town, I had a few extra moments and remembered an important errand. I had a rental house in those days and I needed to get it advertised in the local newspaper. As I parked in front of The Lynden Tribune I knew I would barely make the time deadline for my Ad. I rushed in, and at the front desk, a woman was giving a verbal advertisement… for a car. As she quoted the year, the make, the condition and the price… my ears perked up. An Explorer, did she say? I looked back out the window. Next to my mini-van was parked a shiney Ford Explorer. “Is that the car you want to sell?” I asked the woman. She said “Yes,” and told me her and her husband loved the car and it was in excellent condition, but their loan payments were more than their budget could handle so they needed to sell. Hmmmmm…. I thought.

Days went by and I thought about that Ford Explorer a little… but I didn’t have my money yet and was not seriously looking. I wondered, “Was that You, Lord?”

Weeks later, driving to pick up my sons from school, I had a few extra moments and remembered an important errand. I needed paint for the rental house before new tenants moved in. I took a quick detour to Vander Griend Lumber to pick out a color. Heading back toward the school… I got stopped at a train crossing. As I sat there, mind racing, I glanced out the window on the passenger side of my mini-van, and noticed a shiney Ford Explorer parked two feet away, with a big “For Sale” sign on it’s windshield. It was the same color, and the thought washed over me – “I think that’s the same car”.

 I picked up my kids and drove back to the car to look it over and take the phone number. I told my sons about both encounters with this car and we wondered together, “Is this You, Lord?”

I called that day, and got the same woman I’d met in the Newspaper office. I said I was surprised the car had not sold yet… and told her my ‘God story’ as it seemed to be unfolding. She too, was a Christian, and responded with, “Well, if you need one more confirmation, that happens to be the only day we had it sitting in town, at my husbands work place. He drives an old truck to work because I need the Explorer every single day to haul kids to school etc. That morning he had said, if we’re ever going to sell this car, we have to park it in town where it can be seen – and I happened to have a miraculous day where I did not need the car.” I started grinning.

That evening, my oldest son came home with one more ‘encounter’ story. Before school he and his friends had been waiting outside for a friend who was uncharacteristically late. Luke was telling them the story of mom’s search for a new car. Being teenage boys they asked “make?, model?, year?, color?”… and as Luke was describing it, the very Explorer drove by in front of them. “There it is!” he said.

When I set up a time to meet and test-drive the Explorer, the owner asked me about my current vehicle. They needed a cheaper car that could fit their family! They came over on Saturday morning. I drove their car and they test-drove mine. Both, were perfect. My money had come in that week. I wrote them a check, minus what my mini-van was worth – for exactly the amount I’d told God I had for a new vehicle… and we both drove away smiling….

On Sunday morning a friend at church asked me how I found my nice new Explorer… because she and her husband were looking. I replied, “Oh, you’ll not find one as easy as me – you have an earthly husband!”