‘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.
Song of Songs 3:2
It is while enrobed in the dark of night that our hearts either convey us forward or betray us backward.
In the brief personal testimony shared in Part 2, my husband and I individually were confronted with the choice as to what we were going to do. We are no heroes. In the flesh, we could just as easily have made a different decision. But that is the very point of being Christ’s blood-bought ones. He leaves no room for the flesh. His Spirit within compelled with an equal and opposite intensity against the anguish and anger that left to itself, would have thrown us overboard.
Like the Shulamite faced with her own starkness in the darkness, we too – through faithful Holy Spirit who enabled us to recognize there was One greater than us to Whom we were answerable – were brought to say, “I must arise now and go…I must seek Him…” in desperation-fueled obedience.
Obstinacy and disobedience was brought low in humble humiliation as the Lord brought to bear His right to ownership of us. Thus began our hearts’ journey of discovery of the true meaning of grace*, and growing, continuing, and deepening intimacy with our Bridegroom King.
In the nighttime of adversity that seems it might last forever, the Husbandman must accomplish a deep, hidden and absolutely necessary work if He is to receive the abundant yield that He is after. In a very real way, the darkness is the time for putting off our old man and (self)righteousness that amounts only to filthy rags, and becoming enrobed in Christ and His righteousness. (Ephesians 4:22 & Romans 13:14)
The nighttime will not last forever. Eventually the daytime makes itself known. Then is when we also are known for what was accomplished in the season of adversity. Repeatedly through life, we enter the dark, we emerge out into the light. If we continue to grow ever more steadfast in His love shed abroad in our hearts**, the shadows dissolve and we join the company that experientially knows and can proclaim,
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
Let’s return now to our Shulamite companion.
For the second time she states, ‘I sought him but did not find him.’ She tried to find Him in her tossing and turning on her bed at night (vs 1). When worry and anxiety didn’t produce a sense of His presence, she determined she must arise and go seek him in the city, in the streets and in the squares (vs 2). Though she spent a lot of time searching in the public domain, she didn’t find him there either.
Note to the Shulamite and oneself : You aren’t going to find Him outside of yourself. He is within.
The same One who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” surely does not. But there comes a time when the Lover of our soul will be rebuffed no more. He simply withdraws, retreating behind the lattice. From personal experience I can say, He is there, waiting, watching for our turning toward Him.
To the soul entering the night season, it seems He has up and left, withdrawing His presence. What does not seem like love at all – indeed, feels more like abandonment – is full of love and mercy on His part. But in the night, understanding dawns slowly. What is stark is what’s missing: Him. And that’s His point.
For the Shulamite (and us) – adding insult to injury (or so it would seem to the fleshly way of thinking), the blessings that gave joy and with which she has been content and comforted, are also now removed.
Because the Lord has something far better for His beloved, the combination of dissatisfaction and inability to recreate past experiences that once met her (our) spiritual needs, leads to increased hunger and the cry of desperation. He is a wise One and knows what He’s doing.
Spiritual hunger only increases when what has been no longer satisfies.
What was once so readily received through others no longer has substance sufficient to satisfy. We must seek Him ourselves in order to find Him. And so the intensity begins.
Which in turn leads to next steps, as in the case of the Shulamite getting out of bed at midnight (the time of adversity) to go seek the one her heart desperately needs – though she can only feel it in the beginning as soul love. Let’s not forget we’re still unpacking her first confession of love.
The darkness of the night becomes the battleground for the flesh being incapacitated by the Spirit. Where do you think the Bride first learns to war? With every victory, her path shines brighter and brighter.
The Beloved knows His bride will never be satisfied with the lesser things of life or continually receiving through others. He has something far better for her. Himself. So He begins the process of separating her from dependence on herself and others in order that she may become fully dependent on Him.
The separating process is not without pain but is worth it. Vineyard Days take on a whole new life.
~ Gracefully Free
*grace: Greek ‘charis’ – divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life
Photo Credit: Free from Unsplash – taken by Kyle Richner
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 shammahsfield.com and nancybentz.com.