The Glorious Bridegroom Part 1
As we face our own fears, there is often a sense of unrest rooted in the fear that God will measure us by our standards rather than by His, and that we will be judged unworthy of His affections. While these feelings may rightfully accompany true conviction and repentance, all too often they are simply the recurrent accusations of the enemy and of our own minds, passing judgment on ourselves based on the faulty assumption that God has done so, too.
What is almost impossible for us to understand (indeed, it requires the ministry of the Holy Spirit!) is that His assessment is based on totally different information from what we see. He is gazing upon a Bride who is fully formed, whose life is hidden in the life of His Son at the Father’s right hand, and who therefore can embrace with total confidence the character we already have been given. We, like any child growing up into the identity made certain by his or her heritage, are becoming who we are.
In the aftermath of the Shulamite’s hesitancy to follow the king, she experiences this kind of restlessness, the fear that she has lost the One her heart desires:
By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him.
"I will rise now," I said, "And go about the city; in the streets and in the squares
I will seek the one I love." I sought him, but I did not find him.
When my own passion for intimacy with Jesus was being birthed, there came such a crisis moment. My soul was awakening to His wooing, and I had begun to ask the Holy Spirit to increase my sense of longing for the presence of the Lord. I continued in this mode for some days, until early one morning I had a profound and powerful encounter with the Spirit of God. It was as though He decided, in a quite literal way, to take me up on my request for a greater sense of longing.
In that hour-long confrontation (my wife awoke to the sounds of my anguish and knew it was the Lord, but feared I was having a heart attack!), I began to feel an overwhelming sense of desire, an experience that was not wholly positive. I had been asking for a longing to know the Lord, but wrapped in that awakening desire were the memories of all the disappointments and anguish associated with unfulfilled dreams and deferred hope. My heart was sick in a more desperate way than I had been able to express, and in this moment the Spirit of God was inviting me to dance upon the waves of those fears and disappointments. And I said “No.”
It was too frightening to go there. I couldn’t bear the thought of facing all that “stuff,” so I did what the Shulamite did, what Peter did. I looked at the mountains of difficulties instead of at the strength of the King, and said, “You go ahead. I’ll be along some other time.” In the days immediately following that decision, His presence withdrew (or was it I who cowered away?), and I could not find that sweet voice anywhere.
(to be continued in the next article)