“Good night, Marcy,” Josh says as Marcy enters the elevator.
Marcy glances toward the other passenger and smiles. The elevator door begins to close.
“I love you, Marcy James,” Josh states through the ever-narrowing opening.
Marcy starts to reply, but the door is shut tight and the elevator begins its ascent. She flashes a smile back at the elderly woman who returns one back at Marcy.
“He seems nice,” the elderly woman observes.
“Yes,” Marcy declares, “he is very nice.”
Just then, the elevator opens on the third floor. The elderly woman gets off.
Marcy rides alone to her penthouse apartment. She doesn’t feel alone.
The above is an excerpt from my latest romantic, dramatic novel, Through the Valley of the Shadow. Marcy finds herself alone in the elevator at the end of a very traumatic day. Yet, as the narration declares, Marcy does not feel alone. Why does she not feel alone? Because through the trauma, Josh, who loves and even risks his life for her was there with her through the difficulty. Today’s portion of Song of Songs 2, also helps us realize that we never need to feel alone or afraid for long.
“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.” Song of Songs 2: 3-6.
I remind the reader that the King in this marriage song is Christ and the woman is Christ followers. In the last blog post, we talked about the banner in “and let his banner over me be love” and how this means that an association with the King encourages us as loved and to love. A broader focus of the context reveals so much more. A relationship with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, means satisfaction, strength and renewal, and comfort and contentment as well as unconditional love.
The idea of unconditional love is joined with the idea of being escorted to the celebration by the King of Kings: “Let him lead me to the banquet hall.” I know most of you have seen movies and read stories of the rich and powerful partying in a huge ballroom, highly decorated for the occasion. There is everything in the way of food and beverage. In my scenario, there is live entertainment – special music, acrobats, dancers and maybe even a comedian or two. Anybody who is anybody, high society, rich and powerful, are all invited to the celebration, in this instance, the wedding reception of the most powerful and influential among us. The invitation asked for formal attire, so everyone has their very best suits and gowns on, because the couple are truly deserving of that honor and respect. Guess what happens to those who wear the wrong outfits, disrespecting the King? They are lead out of the ballroom and banned.
Jesus tells a story, a parable, of such a wedding feast. The king managed a wedding feast for his son. He invited his closest associates who refused to come. He invited some of his other acquaintances, but they had other engagements. Then, he invited anyone who wished to come and many accepted his invitation, but one was found wearing inappropriate attire and he was immediately cast out of the ballroom.
Now, in our age of individualism, this type of behavior is hard to swallow. If you think the parable is God instructing us on how we should conduct ourselves at parties or how we should dress for church each Sunday, then you are way off base.
The king in the story is God. His son is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. There are some who reject God’s invitation to celebrate his Son, because they just don’t care or cannot trust God or his Son. There are those who don’t have anything against God, His Son or the Bride, but they have other ideas, philosophies and plans for their life. Then, there are those who accept God’s invitation to join him and his Son. Of those who accept the invitation, there are a few who come out of fear -the wrong attire. Those who do not come in love and respect for the King, those who mistrust the King and those who want to do their own thing and reject the invitation will miss having the time of their lives.
Look at the language of today’s passage and see what is in store for those who accept the invitation to the party and wear the proper attire (love and respect).
- “delight to sit in his shade”
- Delight: a high degree of gratification: joy, extreme satisfaction
- Shade: a place sheltered by the sun
- “his fruit is sweet to my taste”
- Fruit: the effect or consequence of an action or operation
- Sweet: pleasing to the mind or feelings: agreeable, gratifying
- My taste: not someone else’s; not just pleasing to God, but also me
Here is how the Message interprets verse 5, “Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.”
“Oh! Give me something refreshing to eat—and quickly!
Apricots, raisins—anything. I’m about to faint with love!” (The Message)
Doesn’t that sound like the time of your life?
Have you ever felt so loved that you swooned or fainted? Sometimes, when I think about who I am truly deep inside, my true spirit, or my gut reactions which indicate the real color of my heart, I realize I am selfish, unkind, undevoted as anyone. Yet, God loves me enough to not only invite me as a special guest, but wants me to be part of the Bride for His Son. That kind of love makes me swoon.
I know the ugliness of this world, but I know it is not what God wants for this world. This Hippy wannabe realized one day that peace, love, and harmony does not come from the best intentions of man. Wars, hate and prejudice are often the results of people who want the best life, but someone else stands in their way or someone else seems to be getting an unfair portion of it.
Then there are those times that we feel we are undeserving of the circumstances we face and left in this state, we just cannot handle it anymore. We lash out at whatever we thought causes it or we are confused and troubled because we just don’t know why this happened to us. We ask the wrong question – “why” or “when”, instead of “how”, “where” or “Who.” God, in the human form of Jesus, experienced the effects of human trauma, but responded by turning to God, the Father and submitting to God’s will. He found strength, renewal and resurrection as well as purpose and power.
“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done’” Matthew 26:42, New International version.
During those times when all seems lost or life seems so unfair and we feel we are all alone as the only one who struggles, we can find comfort.
“His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.” Verse 6
Jesus comforted a crowd who must have felt the sting of the worst of life’s offerings with words similar.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11: 28, New International Version.
I am writing this during the Christmas season in 2016. I have lost loved ones and one loved this time of year almost as much as she loved Halloween. I have a daughter-in-law who lost her mom just over a year ago, and I lost a dear friend eight years ago. I know I am not the only one who experiences pain along with the joys of this season because of circumstances. I find solace when the sting gets too great in the King’s left arm under my head and his right arm embracing me. He promises you can, too.
What a life we can enjoy in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ – satisfaction, strength and renewal, and comfort and contentment as well as unconditional love. Like Marcy James, we may be physically alone, but we are not alone no matter what the circumstance.
Thanks to https://www.merriam-webster.com and biblegateway.com for their website’s help in delivering this post.
Thanks to Kari Jobe and youtube for the song and video, “I Am Not Alone.”