When was the last time you spent time with the Lord while feeling tired, sick, or overcome with emotion? Did those feelings cause you to be distant from the Lord, impressing upon you a weight much stronger than those previous emotions?
This past week has been a time of great failure in this area, but an incredible reminder of the Lord's faithfulness.
I struggle with emotions. The answer to the above question is "yes" for me. Tiredness is probably my main problem. I go before the Lord, dreary-eyed and exhausted, wanting to want Him, wanting to desire Him. Instead, so many times I just want to go back to bed. In the past, I've given in, figuring that it isn't worth it to pray when I am so tired and distracted. But is it?
During this struggle, I stumbled upon these verses from Song of Solomon.
"On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him. I must arise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I must seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him but did not find him. The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, and I said, 'Have you seen him whom my soul loves?' Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go..."
~Song of Solomon 3:1-4a
In this passage, we find the bride desperate. But why is she desperate? What is she searching for that is so important?
Her beloved. He is gone and she must find him. She cannot live another day without him, another minute without the assurance of his sweet presence holding her, protecting her from harm.
But in verse 1, where do we find the bride? In bed....searching for her beloved. Yes, she wants to find him, but not with a desire that gets her out of bed. The bride is comfortable, not wanting to be disturbed, not wanting to put forth the needed effort. It says that she sought him "night after night...but did not find him." In order to find her beloved, the bride had to understand her need for him, her plight without him.
How many times are we like the bride? Desiring to know the Lord, but not enough to do anything about it. We're lazy and comfortable, not wanting to be disturbed. Or, maybe we're a little better and we do put forth effort. We start to search and we start to pray, but nothing changes. Why? Because we simply gave up at the first wave of exhaustion or pang of hunger.
But then, her heart is awakened. Look at verse 2. "I must arise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares, I must seek him whom my soul loves." Her eyes are suddenly opened to her need and she becomes desperate, pledging not to give up until she finds her beloved.
"I sought him but did not find him." There it is: her second obstacle. She was passionate. She was willing, but he was nowhere to be found. This is where doubts begin and the voice of the enemy is heard whispering his lies into our mind.
You've tried, haven't you?! You gave all you had. It's okay that you didn't find Him; you can always come back tomorrow. Just go home and relax. You've worked hard today; you deserve some down-time. And anyways, your body needs the rest. He shouldn't ask so much of you! Doesn't He know how hard you searched for Him? Oh, you poor thing..."
Unfortunately, it is too easy to listen to those lies, pitying ourselves and giving up, promising ourselves that we'll be back tomorrow. But we mustn't allow this. We must be willing to fight through temptations, through emotions, and through the lies of the enemy. Not willing to accept defeat, not choosing to give up when our body shouts "no", but understanding our desperate need for our Beloved.
This is the attitude of the bride. She continues on, her heart and soul burning with this one desire.
Her third obstacle: the watchmen. Known as the guards and protectors of the city, the watchmen would have been on patrol, looking for danger in the area when they found the bride. She asks for help, but is not given a reply. But what does she do? She continues on....
....and it is in this next verse that her efforts, her struggles, her fervor is rewarded. "Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go..."
The Lord calls for us to seek after Him, to passionately pursue Him , not allowing anything or anyone to detour us; for He promises to reward us with Himself.
"Seek the Lord and His strength; see His face continually." Psalm 105:4
"I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
It is in these times, of searching and seeking our Lord, that we are stretched and our faith is refined.
These verses are challenging, aren't they? They call us to a higher calling, a deeper commitment, and a passionate love that is willing to fight, whatever may come. But oh, His presence is sweeter and His love is dearer than any other love in all creation. He is burdening my heart with that more and more lately.
Oh, His grace continues to amaze me; it doesn't matter how many times I fall, He is always there to pick me up and wash me again. What love is this, dear friends? What overwhelming love is ours in Christ?!