A wonderful day, for L.L. and her beloved. Her wedding day! It was a long time coming, as she more than tested her lover, and his love remained strong, steady and true, in spite of all the ups and downs their relationship went through. At last they were ready to leave the wintry past behind, and venture into the aura and beauty, as well as wildness of springtime (Song of Songs).
Again, L.L. is admirable in sharing her struggles. After all she went through in growing up, seeing both her mother and father divorce and remarry over and over, as well as all the rest, it's little wonder she was not able to bring herself to walk that aisle at Old Stone Church to meet her beloved until after nine years of dating, nearly half of them rocky years in their relationship.
L.L., in this most sacred chapter from her book, reflects on the impact the love from her beloved has had and continues to have in helping her open herself to the love of God in Jesus. She draws especially from Song of Songs, and from Iain Provan's commentary, which I've also found intriguing. Solomon's love is a winter love, the shepherdess is just one among many. But her true lover's love is aflame only for her. On L.L. and her beloved's wedding rings this Scripture reference is engraved.
In my life, love came hard, as I kept getting turned down one by one. I, like L.L., did have deep inward issues to work through, though different than hers. When Deb and I became serious and married, it was a good start. But waylayed by my own self-centeredness and lack of understanding towards her, and of God's will for me, and for us. But God's grace has and continues to see us through and we are now in a growing relationship of love, which reminds me of God's love for us. It doesn't come easy, or without hard and hidden places not being touched and transformed gradually by that never ending grace. That is the way God's love is, and something of how love is to be lived out among us, God's children, in our marriages and friendships.
L.L. gives us a view of love which draws us in, in wonder and awe of its beauty. Of course this love comes from the God who is love, and is our Lover. The imagery of God as Lover is what L.L. is most drawn to when she thinks of her relationship with God. And her beloved was at least in large part by God's grace, how she found her way there.
In the end, as L.L. reminds us, it is Jesus who looks forward (perhaps evident here) to a wedding that is yet to come, with us in him, at the wedding supper of the Lamb. In the meantime, we seek to live faithfully and holy to him, in our relationships in this world, as we look forward to that day. A day in which in that love, we will truly "be brought to our knees before Jesus." (page 80)
Great "discussion questions" at the back of the book, particularly poignant and penetrating on this chapter (pages 158-159).
1. Stepping Stones - conversion
2. Christmas Coal - shame
3. Tossed Treasures - messiness
4. Heron Road - suffering
5. Sword in the Stone - resistance
6. Howe's Cave - baptism
7. Palisade Cliffs - doubt
8. Holding Pfaltzgraff - inclusion
9. Indiana Jones - fear
Next week: Goldsworthy's Wall - sacrifice