I’ve been on a pause that refreshes. (A polite way to say my writing brain cells have been melting…)
Where I live, we spent the last many weeks sweating in relentless 90+ degree heat. It has been a beautiful summer season, but like life, too much heat and sun without a cooling break can drain energy and mess with our ‘cranky’ dial.
Many of us traipsing along in this Vineyard Days journey may be relating to the Shulamite right about now. We found her in a similar ‘heat of the day’ angst, but left her being redirected to the place where the Shepherd fed and rested His flock. She had sweet relief dialed in her sights…
The last several days we have finally been enjoying the perfect summer weather. Our own sweet relief. However, this too shall pass, lovely as it is. The rhythm of the next season is right around the corner.
Like the changing of the seasons, the Shulamite’s story reminds us that life with the Shepherd Lover is meant to be an upward, ever-changing journey. He does not lead us beside stagnant pools. In fact, the Hebrew meaning of Psalm 23:2’s “He leads me beside still waters,” means to run with a sparkle, that is, flow…carry, feed, guide, lead (gently, on).
And those still waters? The original Hebrew points to still (or quiet) waters as meaning repose, a resting place, peaceful matrimony. Methinks Shepherd Lover has a Bride on His mind…
Our present beautiful summer temperatures are meant to be enjoyed. But they won’t remain. They will segue into another season. So it is in our relationship with the Lord, as it was for the Shulamite.
He coaxes us to Himself out of the heat of distress and unrest. He calls us to come aside and rest a little while, just as He did with His twelve disciples. Just as He did with the Shulamite. He longs to give us rest.
Rest with a purpose: because He desires that we run (with Him) with a sparkle, and flow, as He feeds us and leads us on.
We’re going to see in upcoming posts that the Shulamite kinda, sorta got it, but her interpretation of what her Shepherd Lover was up to was on a lower plane altogether. Not unlike us current ‘Shulamites.’
She was both agitated by yet drawn to her relationships with other Christians (as represented by the daughters of Jerusalem). And well she – and we – should be. They played a huge role in her spiritual development. And so, too, do other believers in our own lives. As we do in theirs.
On one hand, being called away to aloneness with the Lord is a very tempting proposition. To leave those ‘agitators’ in the dust as we hike down the trail with the Shepherd sounds like a win-win. He wins because He wants me. I win because He promises me something better. But if we thumb our nose while waving goodbye and piously spouting something spiritual-sounding, just wait. There are other implements in the Shepherd’s hut.
On the other hand, any ‘buttons’ in us not fixed in a firm, upright position (toward the Lord) easily get pushed as we contemplate the implications of drawing aside to singularly follow this Shepherd Lover.
What will the others in the harem think? I’ll be labeled everything from conceited and doctrinally wrong to someone who is rigid and out of touch with the times; intolerant. I’ll lose my friends. I’ll lose my standing. I’ll lose my credibility. I’ll lose my perks. I’ll just plain lose…
Yes, any or all of those can give us pause. And any or all of those might happen. When it comes down to it though, what choice will you make when it comes time to choose?
Stay on the lower plane of leaning on your own understanding? (Proverbs 3:5) Or come up out of the desert ‘palace’ of your own and others’ thoughts and speech, leaning on your Beloved? (Song of Songs 8:5).
Ultimately, which do you want to hear? The Voice or the voices…
Each ‘Shulamite’ who hungers for ‘more’ will eventually need to confront and answer these questions.
For there is a ‘more’ that leads to running with a sparkle and to life. And there is a ‘more’ that is simply more of the same with variations and compromises that lead to a stagnant pool of brackish water.
The Bride will choose sparkling life.
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at www.shammahsfield.com.
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