Abide under the shelter of the lattice for I have betrothed you to Myself, and though you are sometimes indifferent toward Me, My love for you is at all times as a flame of fire. My ardor never cools. My longing for your love and affection is deep and constant.
Tarry not for an opportunity to have more time to be alone with Me. Take it, though you leave the tasks at hand. Nothing will suffer. Things are of less importance than you think. Our time together is like a garden full of flowers, whereas the time you give to things is as a field of stubble.
I love you, and if you can always, as it were, feel My pulse beat, you will receive insight that will give you sustaining strength. I bore your sins and I wish to carry your burdens. You may take the gift of a light and merry heart, for My love dispels all fear and is a cure for every ill. Lay your head upon My breast and lose yourself in Me. You will experience resurrection life and peace; the joy of the Lord will become your strength; and wells of salvation will be opened within you (see Song of Solomon 2:9-13).-----Jesus
(From the Book: Come Away My Beloved: The Intimate Devotional Classic Updated in Today's Language by Frances J. Roberts. - page 8 - The Call of Love)
Love-Letters, Checklists, Relationship, Coffee and a Bike
I just began reading this book in an effort to spend a few intimate moments alone with God each day. This in addition to my bible study, and the weekly corporate worship service at church on Sundays. I am a believer and follower of Christ. I attend church regularly, read and study the scriptures, serve as a minister in our youth group, and pray often. But I found I needed more intimacy in my relationship with God. So on Monday morning, I made some decaf coffee, and went to my bookshelf looking for a different devotional than the one I have been using. I am a book lover, and I have been known to purchase a book because it looks good, and then give it a home in my library, but not really read it for months or years. So, when I re-read the title of this volume, I knew in my heart that this was what God was calling me to do --- "Come away, my Beloved."
I remembered this book as a devotional --- each day's installment has a scripture, and a paragraph or two of insightful thoughts to digest as you spend time with God at the beginning of your day. When I opened it, and read the first 'chapter' I found that this was no ordinary devotional. Yes, there is a daily passage of scripture to read. But what follows that is a love-letter, from God, to the reader.
I love letters. I feel that letter writing is a lost art that is slowly surrendering to the electronic and internet age. Letters written in loving script on parchment, scented with perfume and sealed with wax are treasures; a stack of letters tied in ribbon and tucked away in a fabric covered box is a trove of endearment and delight! I love love-letters so much, my husband bought me a book a few years ago for Valentine's Day that is filled with reproductions of love-letters written by famous men and women to their lovers -- love-letters from Napoleon Bonaparte to Madame Marie Walewska, from Honore' Balzac to Evelina Hanska, from Dylan Thomas to his wife Caitlyn, from Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barret, and from Benjamin Franklin to Madame Helve'tius.
The letters from God, in this devotional struck a chord in my heart. So, I began to type them up, one each day, and print them out on paper. Then I wrote a response, and printed it as well. I have a small stack on my bedside table now, of six love-letters -- correspondence between the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of my Soul, and myself. It may seem a bit silly and romantic, but they are precious to me. Because they represent intimate communications from His heart to mine. And isn't that intimacy what followers of Christ were created for? There are not words to explain how satisfying it is to sit and read a letter from God in the morning, and then write one in response. Or how taking a few moments to open the pages of a previous letter to linger over the loving words can settle my anxious heart, and quiet my spirit when I need it most. This is a powerful thing for me.
Last night, after a long conversation with my son Tyler, who only came to live with his Dad and I three months ago, I realized that he never really understood the difference between believing in God and doing good things and having a real, intimate relationship with Him. To Tyler, being a Christian was like carrying around a checklist of all the right things to do. If you can check everything off of your list today, you are a Christian, and you are okay. We talked for a long time about his relationship with his father, my husband, and I gave him the following example:
Imagine that you wake every morning to find a note on the refrigerator from your Dad. He is already gone to work, but there are some things he wants you to do today, and you hold the checklist in your hand. You work hard to complete every task on the list. Pleasing your father, and being a good son is important to you. At the end of the day, you place the checklist back on the fridge, and everything has been checked off. Your father, who has not returned from work, will have to read the list after you've gone to bed. You feel good because you've accomplished your goals, and completed the list of tasks, proving you are a good son.
The next morning, you find another list, and your dad is already out the door, to work. The cycle begins again. This continues for several days, and you find yourself disenchanted with the idea of checking the list, and working all day to please a father who doesn't even spend time with you. There is no relationship, so the incentive to please your father, and be a good son is not long-lasting, and in your frustration and discouragement, you decide that you cannot be a good son. It is too difficult, and carries no weight of satisfaction of reward.
Now, imagine that the story is different. You wake every morning and have breakfast with your father. You see him off to work, and look forward to his return every evening. After work the two of you play basketball together, you talk about everything and nothing, you laugh and joke. You develop an intimate relationship with each other.
Soon, your father tells you there are some things he would like you to do. He makes a list, a checklist of sorts, and gives it to you every day. You are happy to do the things he asks. because you desire to please him. He praises you each day when he sees your checklist completed, and he is understanding and merciful when you miss something, or need his help to complete it. It's not difficult to continue being the best son you can, because your love relationship with your father compells you to do so.
In both instances the father is God. The checklist is what you read in the Bible about pleasing Him. The difference in being disillusioned and discouraged, or being a good, godly son, is relationship. What we were created for.
Tyler really took this to heart, and this morning, over coffee we spent a few moments reading scripture and discussing his relationship with God. I explained that if you ask Him, God will speak to you in His Word. You can tell Him what you're dealing with, ask for help on your test, thank Him for things, and spend time in His presence, developing relationship. He wants to help you with anything you're concerned about, and He wants to spend time just hanging out with you. Sometimes, He will even do something unexpected, to show that He loves you, and it will be something tailor made to delight you. After a few minutes in God's word, Tyler went outside to the back porch to be alone with God and talk. He came back in a few minutes later, and proceeded to do his chores, eat his breakfast and start his school work. My heart was thrilled to see him stepping out in faith, and pursuing a relationship with God.
My other son, Jotham works part time at a hamburger joint down the street. Recently he and Tyler were given a bike that was broken and was about to be discarded. They invested their own money and sweat into the bike, and fixed it up. For a while Jotham rode the bike to work and back. He would stash the bike in the back of the store, behind the trash dumpster, of all places. One afternoon a week or so ago, he came walking home and reported that someone had stolen the bike. It was a bitter pill for the boys to swallow.
About an hour after Jotham went to work this morning, I got a phone call from the hamburger place. I saw the name on the caller ID, and my mother's heart skipped a beat. I was imagining a trip to the emergency room, or some other bad news. But on the other end of the line was Jotham's voice. "Guess what, Mom. I got the bike back! A guy came by on it, and I went out and told him it was mine. He argued with me, but I didn't back down. He finally gave me the bike and walked off. Now it's locked in the storeroom, and I'm gonna go get a bike chain and lock when I get off work, so noone can steal it again."
It was great news.
About twenty minutes later, the house was quiet, and Tyler and my youngest daughter were working on school work. Tyler got up, and came into my office to talk. "Hey Tauna, remember what you said this morning?" he asked, with a smile. "I prayed about the bike today." Another grin. And he went back to his computer.
...Isn't it awesome how God can use a bike to say,
"I love you."
"I know where you are."
"I hear your prayers."
"And I want a real relationship with you."
Sounds like a love-letter to me.