Friday, May 20, 2011

The Pause

"I slept but my heart was awake.
   Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
   my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
   my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe—
   must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
   must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
   my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
   and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
   on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
   but my beloved had left; he was gone.
   My heart sank at his departure."  Song of Solomon 5:2-6

My readings took me through Song of Solomon this week.  Song of Solomon and the book of Job always make me think of Shakespeare, and I have no doubt that he studied these two books of the Bible heavily.  They have the same feel and rhythm of many of his plays, and since I love reading Shakespeare, reading these particular books of the Bible never feels like a chore.  The more I spend time in that book of the Bible, the more I see that it really isn't so much about romantic love between a man and his life, but of an intense love that should be shared between Jesus and His Bride.  These particular verses are the cautionary tale- the words of warning to be heeded by the bride.   Because look what she is doing.

She is lying in bed at night- asleep, but not totally asleep. One of those sleeps where she is resting, but really, a part of her is alert, waiting for a nighttime visitor- I think it's like the sleep of a mother, the sleep that is restful, but always on guard for one of her children to cry out for her.   And then, the sounds of her beloved outside the door wake her fully.  The only problem?  She needs to cross the room to open the door to him and let him in.  It was there that she paused, and ultimately failed.  She paused for superficial reasons.  She hesitated, because she was already abed, if she rose, she would need to put her robe back on to cover her. If she rose and crossed the floor, her clean feet might get dirty again.  It also says that when she rose and reached for the door, her hands were flowing with myrrh... so she must have paused even longer to prepare herself, to douse herself with perfume, perhaps pat her hair back into place. 

She took too long.  Her beloved was knocking, and while she was primping, he gave up and left.  After all that, she opened the door to no one.

What do we do when Jesus is knocking?  Will we be like Peter, James, John and Andrew, and will we immediately drop what we're doing to follow Him?

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.  21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."  Matthew 4:19-22

Or we will we take our example from the Shulammite woman and pause.  Will we come up with excuses why we can't just yet?  Oh, I know, I've been there.  Those moments in a church service where it gets intense, and people are pressing in for more, and then I let myself get distracted by a child (who is really content at the moment and doesn't need a thing) or I'll have to dash to the ladies room.  Those moments where there is a guest speaker, and he calls all those who want more of God to come to the altar, and instead of going forward, you rationalize that it's quite late, and you should really be getting the kids home and to bed.   The Shulammite had perfectly valid excuses, but so could have the disciples.

Don't you think?  Peter and Andrew could have easily said something like "Just a minute Jesus, let us haul  in this load first"  Or something like " Sure, we could come over and see what you have to say when our work day is done".  But they didn't!  They dropped their nets right then and there and followed.

Our Shulammite finally opened the door, and it was too late.  Her beloved was gone, and her heart sank.  Her heart sank, and an opportunity was missed to draw closer to her beloved.   Let's heed the warning from this love story- let us not get caught up in the things of this world, in the ideas of the flesh, and when Jesus comes calling, let us just say yes, and open the door to Him fully.  Let us drop our nets and follow, and see where He wants to take us.  Just a moment's of hesitation can be a moment too many.  The more we spend time in our Bibles, and in our quiet time, and in our church services learning more about Him, the closer our hearts should be to being able to just drop everything to follow Him. 

May we not pause when He knocks.  May we be ready in season and out of season, and may our hearts be prepared for the days to come.

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