Is love a topic you can write about? Sure, you can write about love, it's just that most people don't. The media is full of death & dying, rage & hatred, and even sex & divorce. But love, the action of the heart, mind, and body to deeply care for another human being, is often absent in mainstream media, for whatever reasons.
My husband and I just spent four days in Panama City, on the Gulf for our second anniversary. We didn't get home til about 2am last night. It is an awesome place to get away. The first night we arrived a pool party was happening outside below our balcony overlooking both the Gulf and the pool. The music from the band was a nice welcome. And, on the last night we could hear fireworks outside our window. In between we mostly were serenaded with the calling of the seagulls and the dashing of the waves against the sandbar running along the miracle strip.
The Song of Songs in the Bible, Canticles, are filled with sweet allusions to love and married happiness. But, much of it refers to external beauty, and the book doesn't really go into the selfless giving that love usually entails in a marriage. It doesn't even speak of loyalty or fidelity. But, then neither do most popular love songs or books today. For that matter, we're not even sure which of Solomon's concubines the book of Song of Solomon was written about. Notice that she was not one of his many wives, but one of many many concubines. So, what's the point, you are left to wonder.
I believe the point is in the forever. Marriage is meant to be a little taste of eternity here on earth. I know Larry is the man I want to spend an eternity with here on earth. And, it is this aspect of marriage that much of love in the media is missing.
While in Panama City, we went to a theater to see the new release of Spiderman. Since it was sold out, Larry wanted to see the animated movie, Brave. It was a touching story of the relationship between a daughter and her Father, her Mother, and her brothers. I loved the way it dealt with a child's stubborn refusal to follow her Mother's plans, a Mother's stubborn insistence on her own plans, and the later realization of how both fit into the family.
Cranking up the laptop late this evening for the first time in almost a week, I found my email is backed up, my scheduled Tweets ran out while I was gone and had to be refilled, I am all out of scheduled blogs, I lost about 9 games of Words With Friends when the game automatically forfeited me while away, and I have much more I should be doing, such as laundry. But, I'm sleepy, and too tired to really get into much online or in the house. Larry cooked up a huge dinner, and I think that did me in, attention wise, for this day. Good night, and I pray God blesses you and yours, and me and mine, with happiness, warmth, and the forever kind of love that eternity is for.
We speak of love in terms of perfection, not because we are not human, but because the match between the lovers is perfect. Love is indeed a verb. You are all fair, my love; there is no spot in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 I look at my husband and I feel perfect happiness, perfect companionship, perfect friendship, perfect passion, a perfect bond, not because we are perfect, but because we love without reservation. He is perfect for me.
We watched the movie, "The Vow" Saturday morning. Actually, we watched a double feature; "Safe House" and then "The Vow" as a sort of compromise. He wanted to watch an action movie. But, he did not want me to be disappointed. I enjoyed the first one tremendously, but had been waiting to see The Vow. And, likewise, Larry was not sure he would enjoy that one as much as me, so we watched both. He was surprised to enjoy The Vow too. It was based on a true story, about a young married couple in a car accident. She wakes up from a coma with no memory of him. The past couple years are erased and she remembers only her family back home. He tries to make her fall in love with him again, because he is like a stranger to her. He had vowed to never forget his love for her, and he fought to fulfill that vow. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it was a good movie.
Love is an action rooted in decision. I love my husband. There is no part kept back. Nothing left over. No mad money. I subscribe to making him happy. I do not study his flaws, but how I can meet his needs. I love him for all the good he has brought into my life. I do not take that for granted. And, I am pleased to see that he does not take me for granted. I love the eagerness with which he tries to right a wrong when I mention some small complaint or we argue. He wants to please me. It is evident. Likewise, he instantly lightens up at my apology. He knows how much I respect and admire him.
But, then again, we've only been married a year and a half. I haven't yet begun to love him. I hope your Valentine is a spotless love.
Everybody wants something. None of us are immune to "wishery." If you've ever bought a lottery ticket, entered a contest, or tried to become pregnant, then you know what it means to wish. Prayer is different from wishery, as I like to refer to the practice of wishing. When we talk to God about our wants and our needs, we are involved in a conversation and God listens as well as speaks. Wishery is missing one vital ingredient, hope. Hope likewise requires reason. Without both reason and hope, it does no good to "name it and claim it." No, I am not very much into the name it and claim it camp. You guessed it right.
I have known cases where children wanted to pray for God to "let them win" a Bible competition, after not studying. I reminded them that the other team was praying to the same God, and they studied. I told them I thought God would let the team win that studied His Word the best.
In prayer, a meeting of minds takes place, so to speak. But, sometimes we find it easier to manipulate or convince God to give in to our petitions. Superstition and witchcraft are specifically related to rebellion in the Bible. 1 Samuel 15:23 God wants Christians to come to Him for their needs.
Genesis 30:14 Leah and Rachel were sisters in the Old Testament. Rachel was beautiful. Leah was plain to look at, but the oldest child. Abraham's grandson Jacob met Rachel at a well outside her father's ranch, and it was love at first sight. He followed her home and struck a deal with her dad Laban to work seven years as a dowry for the right to marry Rachel. Seven years seems like a long time, but he was in love. At the end of the seven years, the family throws a wedding and Jacob gets married. But, Laban covered Leah's face with a veil until after dark, to trick Jacob into thinking he was marrying Rachel. In the end, Jacob had to agree to keep Leah, and work another seven years in order to marry Rachel.
This trick may have helped Laban out by giving Leah a husband, but it certainly didn't help Leah's relationship with Jacob, who wasn't interested in her to start with. But, as it turned out, Leah gave birth to one boy after another, while Rachel remained childless. Still, Jacob loved Rachel the most. It seems that both women began to wish. Rachel wished for children, and Leah wished for Jacob to love her. After a few years the two experimented with the idea of surrogacy, but this didn't bring them satisfaction, even though they were both successful in their plan.
One day, Leah's oldest son Reuben found some mandrakes growing in the fields and brought them to his mother. Mandrakes have roots that are shaped in the form of a man, as pictured below.
Not only was the form of the root seen as erotic to people in the middle east, but it's fruit was a potent hallucinatory drug, slightly poisonous and considered an aphrodiasiac to many people. The fruit was also called the love apple. Many believed superstitiously that the fruit, like the root, had magic properties that would cause fertility and sexual drive and desire. Rachel believed this superstition and thought that if she gave some of the drug to Jacob, she would get pregnant. Mandrakes are also mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:13.
The Bible records that she asked her sister for some of the mandrakes. Her sister would have known what she wanted them for, and made a lewd joke about the fact that Rachel had Jacob's love. Genesis 30:15 "And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? and would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" This was an insult, but Rachel had no pride at this point apparantly. She quickly offered Leah the chance to have Jacob spend the night with her, in exchange for some of the mandrakes, which she planned to use later with Jacob herself, in order to conceive a child. Leah accepted the deal.
Though the drug acted as a stimulant temporarily, it would leave him unconscous for two or three days. This didn't stop the woman from her plan to use the drug on Jacob. From there, we find that Leah conceived that night and gave birth to a son. But, Rachel did not get pregnant... not for at least three more years. We know this because Leah had three children after that exchange before Rachel finally conceived Joseph. Rachel's wishery led her to try superstitious nonsense to get what she wanted, instead of turning to God for what God apparantly wanted her to have.
We may find this story humorous and silly, thinking that these women were superstitious and ignorant. But, how often do women today follow what we refer to as "old-wives tales?" Even "love potions" and aphrodiasics are common usage. Nothing has really changed in the last 3000 years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Song of Solomon 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from
Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the
lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
I am enjoying a pomegranite and green tea. A pomegranite is a beautiful fruit that seems more like a gift or a treasure chest. When you slice into it, you have to peel away the inner tissue paper gift wrap, revealing these ruby like seeds filled with the tastiest juice imaginable. The full bodied richness of the pomegranite juice on your tastebuds only makes the green tea taste sweeter.
Some people are picky eaters, but I have a taste for a wide variety of foods. This creates a problem, because I will eat just about anything, though I don't like sushi or crawdads. The first priority with meat is that it be throughly cooked. After that, anything is "game." With fruits and vegetables, they are all good, and I will eat anything. I don't generally enjoy eating the same thing two days in a row, unless it is chocolate. Chocolate is good every day. And, I like a variety of colors on my plate. The more different something is, the better it tastes.
I never drink buttermilk. My grandmother used to make goat's buttermilk, which I refused to drink. This was fine with her, as she was a farm wife, and an awesome cook, a doting grandmother, and she would cater to each of us on our once a year visits to Tennessee. I miss her dearly. She died 25 years ago this month. I probably got my love of all things edible from her.
In Kenya, I enjoyed the evening banquets, with all of the exotic fresh fruits spread out on the buffet. I brought home my love for mangoes and papayas, along with some neat souvineers and my luggage. I bought most of the souvineers for specific people. The only thing I kept for myself was an African chessboard and an empty soft drink bottle like the kinds used here in the States in the 60's. The beverage it contained was called Stony Tangawiza. Yes, I drank it, and it tasted like liquid black pepper. But, I loved the exotic "differentness" to the experience, so much so that my tastebuds didn't mind.
We ate at a restaurant called appropriately, "The Carnivore" there in Nairobi. It was everything you could imagine and more. The meat was spectacular... so much so that I don't remember anything about whether we even had bread, fruit, or veggies, though I am sure we must have. I can only remember the delicious morsels of meat all arranged on long scimitar-type knives. Each waiter carried out a different type of meat on his knife and allowed you to have pieces off whichever knives you chose, as they came around. And, they kept coming back with more until you raised the flag at your table in sign of surrender. I ate Zebra, eland, lamb, heartabeast, Crocodile, and a number of other different meats. I capitalized the words Zebra and Crocodile because they were capital dishes :)
Pomegranite is a fruit that is mentioned in the Bible and it is mentioned in Song of Solomon 4:13 as well. There in verse 8 above, Solomon and his spouse, for here she is called his spouse for the first time, are apparantly on top of Mount Lebanon where he is showing her the spectacular view of all his kingdom. Perhaps it was a honeymoon trip, but he mentions wanting to take her to Mount Amana and Mount Hermon's tops as well, while they are traveling. The trip is obviously a safari, since he says they are viewing the lion and leopard dens. It must have been a costly, expensive trip, but we know that Solomon held a large treasury which he obtained from taxing the people so heavily. 1 Kings 12:4
"Traveling" can be quite a busy thing, and a mountain climbing safari is definitely roughing it, LOL. Imagine your husband wants to take you to visit some lions dens on your honeymoon! That might not be at the top of your bucketlist. You would well consider putting it at the bottom for when everything else has been marked off the list, just in case it is the last thing you do. :) We often think of Solomon as being "second-generation" or pampered royalty. But, though we know he was a lover and not a fighter, he was apparantly a rugged outdoorsman. He loved wild animals, and had his own menagerie (of animals, and of women.) And, he was apparantly an avid bow hunter and mountain climber.
But, God is compared to a Heavenly Bridegroom here in this the Canticles. In Deuteronomy 34:1 God took Moses up to the tops of the Mountains and showed him Caanan Land. In Revelation 21:10, God shows John the Revelator the New Jerusalem from the top of a mountain. Yes, God has so much he wants to give us of himself. But, we are all too often content with where we are and don't want to get out of our comfort zone.
In Song of Solomon 4:15 the Beloved is referred to as a well of "living water." Jeremiah 2:13 uses the same analogy for God, as does Jesus in John 4:10 and John 7:38. Everywhere else in the Bible, the Hebrew phrase is translated to running waters when speaking of natural water sources. The translators did this purposly because they knew that the term was referring specifically to Jesus.
I do apologize, but I think I have reached the end of my story and found I haven't reached a conclusion, though I have talked for far too long... hours. Seeing that this is the end... and I have no conclusion, and rambling is a bad habit...I will just say so long for now. :)
Song of Solomon 8:13 You that dwell in the gardens, the companions listen
for your voice: let me hear it.
Who is this that hangs out in the gardens?
Mark 14:32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he
said to his disciples, Sit here, while I shall pray.
Who is it that is listening for His voice?
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Can we hear His voice?
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them:
and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom
I am well pleased; hear you him.
Do we really want to listen in on this conversation?
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, You know not what you ask. Are
you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the
baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto him, We are able.
The garden speaks of communion, fellowship with Christ. But, to have fellowship with Jesus means that we partake of His cup.
What will you make of this?
The Man in the Myrtles in the first Chapter of Zechariah is a picture of the presence of God. God's presence is not something to be taken lightly, and He won't be found anywhere or in any fashion. Many people like the come as you are approach, and that's all true, because Jesus calls you from where you are to follow Him. But, at some point after the call, and before you experience the wind in your wings in your prayer life, you will find yourself dealing with some things in your life with God. Prayer Warriors are like those Women With the Wind in their Wings. They help carry away problems in prayer. I have seen times when I knew my freedom in the Spirit world was a direct result of the prayer of an elderly saint who had spent her lonely days praying for the people in the church. You can imagine the sense of freedom Zack felt, seeing the burden of sin being lifted off his people. Now, we know from this side of Calvary that Jesus died to have our sins imputed on the cross. Our sins are washed away by remission at baptism. But, after baptism, all that remains is for us to cry out to Jesus in prayer for the shortcomings of our life of grace.
But, Zechariah didn't jump from the presence of God experience with the Man in the Myrtles, directly to the release in prayer experience of the Women With the Wind in their Wings. There are three scenes enfolded between these two beautiful visions. The first is the vision of an angel sent to measure Jerusalem. In this vision, Zack shares God's call to come out from bondage and to rebuild Israel. Zack gets a real vision of what Israel can be in God's eyes, and how it will measure up to His standards in the end. I like the words where God says, "After the Glory!!"
Zechariah 2:8 For thus says the LORD of hosts; After his glory has he sent
me unto the nations which plundered you: for he that touches you touches the
apple of his eye.
God says, after the glory of your first experience with him, or after Zack's vision of God's glorious presence in the Myrtles, you are going to be mine.
The second scene beyond the Man in the Myrtle vision is a shocking vignette for me. Here Zack sees the High priest, a man named Joshua, facing off with Satan, which would be kind of like seeing your own Pastor facing Satan on your behalf. I think it ironic that Joshua is also the same name as Jesus in the Hebrew. Jesus is just a more modernized Aramaic form of Joshua. Jesus did face Satan on our behalf. But, back to the Pastor Joshua. The only difference here is that Joshua is not facing Satan. Satan is facing Joshua. Joshua has his eyes on an angel of God. Satan is standing to his right facing him, resisting Joshua, attempting to prevent Joshua from interceding on the behalf of the people...trying to stop this encounter with an angel. The reason I find this so shocking is the open conflict, or warfare. But, some things are worth fighting for. I've always been a runner in the past, avoiding a conflict. I try to face issues now. That's a good thing, I believe. We have to be able to set limits somewhere.
But, in this vision, God rebukes Satan and calls Joshua a "brand plucked out of the fire." Joshua is wearing filthy clothes. This is not surprising. Most Pastors have seen quite enough filth to shock the average person. They encounter a lot of "stuff" from dealing with each individual's problems. Joshua is given a change of clothing from God and Zack calls out for God to put a crown on Joshua's head as well. Then the angel of the lord begins to instruct Joshua on how to lead the people into restoration with God, because God is planning on sending a Messiah out of Israel. (They're told to clean this dump up, because a Messiah can't come out of a dump.)
The third vision from the Myrtles gets a little more ethereal, or other worldly. As a matter of fact, every time I look at the page, I want to just skip past this chapter because it belongs in the book of Revelation. Of course, it belongs right where it is, and God has a revelation of His Spirit for me right here and now. We don't have to wait for heaven to experience God's Spirit.
In this vision, the angel has to wake Zack up because he has fallen into a deep sleep. The angel shows Zack a Golden Candlestick and two olive trees, which represents God's Spirit burning inside their King Zerubbabel, who would lead them in their rebuilding efforts. (See, I told you it sounds like something out of Revelation :)
Zechariah 4:6-7 Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is
the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by
my spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? before
Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth its headstone with
shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Oh the beauty of god's grace that allows a filthy people to be called clean to stand before His Spirit! The Man in the Myrtles, the angel measuring to rebuild Jerusalem after the glory lost, Satan rebuked from the children of God as they are given clean clothes and crowns, the flowing of the olive oil of God's Spirit through the candlestick, and then the Women with the Wind in their Wings carrying off the wickedness of God's people; all of these five visions together form a prescription for those who want to encounter the presence of God in their own lives... for those who want to rebuild on a foundation of God's Word.
It seems all you have to do to hear from God is to ask Him to speak. Pick any four pages in the Bible, and you will find something to speak to your life from God. It's no wonder the Bible has been preserved through the centuries. God's Word is so easy to love. It is like feasting at a banquet table.
Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner
over me was love.
Psalms 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto you, when my heart
is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
The Psalmist felt overwhelmed. Yes, the writers of Scripture, were men of flesh and blood emotions. You can also see feelings of alienation (from the ends of the earth,) discouragement (seeking for a strength higher than his own,) bewilderment (he wants someone to lead the way, "take me...,") and insecurity (need for safety, "a strong tower from the enemy.")
Psalms 61:3 "For you have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower
from the enemy."
Being a wise man, and a child of God, though self-admittedly feeling lonely and discouraged, he realizes that God is his Rock and Strong Tower who can ease his discouragement and renew his strength. He goes directly to the source of comfort. He turns to God's abode, to the sheltering wings of God. He turns to the Church. His words are poignant:
Psalms 61:4-5 I will abide in your tabernacle forever: I will trust
in the shelter of your wings. Selah. For you, O God, have heard my vows: you
have given me the heritage of those that fear your name.
The man remembers that he has made some vows (plural) to God. He remembers that vows are a mutually contractual arrangement between two parties. Vows never are issued by one person alone. If you have vows that stand before God, then God is bound to His end of the promise. And, here the Psalmist names that end; a heritage with the people of God. What a reward! What a bargain! I will be faithful to you, the King of Kings, and you will give me a heritage with your people, in your Kingdom. Faithfulness means being full of faith. Do you believe in God? Can God believe in you? If so, you are faithful.
A man with vows, and a heritage, and a kinship is not so much alone or lost, after all. Here in his vows he discovers his sense of kinship, courage, direction, and security. He is reminded of all this in the church...God's dwelling place.
Song of Solomon 1:7-8 Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you
feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that
turns aside by the flocks of your companions? If you know not, O you fairest
among women, go your way forth in the footsteps of the flock, and feed your kids
beside the shepherds' tents.
Here the question is asked, "Where can God be found?" We are reminded to follow the flock to the Shepherd's tent. Looking for God, our Shepherd? Then you will find Him in church. Courage, kinship, security, and direction are not found in visiting church once a month. These emotions are built up in increments from the repeated exposure to the Word.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not
believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how
shall they hear without a preacher?
A few thousand years later, we still can not find a sense of security or direction when we neglect the Word. The Word of God is the Bread of Life. It nourishes our souls like food does our bodies. Most babies tire quickly of being spoon fed, and quickly become self-feeders. I would hate to only be able to feed on God's Word a few times a week. That doesn't mean the self-feeding child fails to show up at the table where meals are being served. But, imagine if you couldn't read your Bible between services.
Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I did eat them; and your word
was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by your name, O
LORD God of hosts.
Yet, sometimes we still find ourselves needing God to do for us what we can't do for ourselves. We need God to lead our feet in the path that they do not know. Have you ever walked unfamiliar paths without a guide? It is not a comforting occupation. But, we will find Jesus' grace abundantly sufficient for all our paths, if we only realize our personal weakness and cry out to Him. Look at the Psalm as a whole and notice the progressive pattern of the "I wills.
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto you,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in your tabernacle forever:
I will trust in the shelter of your wings. Selah.
For you, O God, have heard my vows:
you have given me the heritage of those that fear your name.
You will prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever:
O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
So will I sing praise unto your name forever,
that I may daily perform my vows.
Walking the unfamiliar paths will not happen by accident. Only by purpose and determination can we walk when the way seems unclear, and the work overwhelms our soul. These are commodities; like pride. Determination and purpose are things to be valued in and of themselves. Where some people find themselves impoverished of pride, others are poor in determination and purpose in life. This becomes clear when you see that rich and poor men alike can have either an abundance or a dearth of pride. Nowhere can we find a clearer picture of what it feels like to be overwhelmed, than in a ship tossed at sea. The view of a lighthouse is definitely a comforting strong tower for the ship lost in the storm. Consider the storm at sea...
Psalms 107:23-30 "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do
business on great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in
the deep. For he commands, and raises the stormy wind, who lifts up the waves
thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their
soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a
drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their
trouble, and he brings them out of their distresses. He makes the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are quiet;
so he brings them unto their desired haven."
As John Wayne would say, "Where are you heading pilgrim?"