WHAT IS THE ROOT OF OUR LACK OF INTIMACY?
Have you ever wondered why you could not seem to get intimate with God; why your prayers seem to fall on deaf ears and why you couldn’t motivate yourself to pray or read the bible? We all experience those dry times and we usually feel guilty and try to atone for our lack of commitment with a determination to do better and sacrifice more. But David declared to God, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (Ps 51:16,17). God wants our hearts not our sacrifices. So do we even know what keeps us from giving our hearts to Him?
That was the plight of the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon. Her lover (Solomon/Jesus) came knocking but she was in bed, had washed her hair and didn’t want to get up. Jesus put His hand through the latch opening and His fragrance roused her to respond. However when she got to the door, He was gone.
When she went out to find Him she met the watchmen of the city. Watchmen are those people who are looking for something amiss: something wrong. When they found her they beat her and wounded her (see SS 5:7)! Many of us have run into people who do the same thing: they bring accusations and find fault with us. Not only that, but the watchmen also took her veil off (see SS 5:7). They uncovered her; uncovered her sins, weaknesses, and shame. God clothed Adam and Eve and took away their shame when they sinned but some people think that they are a perverse version of the Holy Spirit and that it is their job to offend and expose others. We can only get past these watchmen if we know we are loved.
After mistreating her, these same watchmen then flattered her, calling her … fairest among women (SS 5:9). Beware of people who accuse one minute and flatter the next …they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts (Ps 12:2). These watchmen don’t know Jesus (see SS 5:9) and don’t know where to find Him (see SS 6:1). She had encountered these watchmen before and it wasn’t until she got past them that she found her Love (see SS 3:3,4). It is the same with us. We must get past the accusations and guilt of our sins if we are going to find Jesus. Satan always uses accusations to make us feel that God will not allow us to draw near to Him.
Often we feel like the Shulamite, that God is withdrawing from us. But we are pursuing a withdrawing God! He is not withdrawing from us but is trying to draw us out. He is like a father, trying to get his baby to release the coffee table and take his first steps. Daddy holds his hands out, enticing the baby to walk like the adults, in the room, are walking.
When the baby finally launches out and steps towards the extended hands, the father does something unexpected; he backs up. Now the baby has a decision to make; he can return to the safety of the coffee table; he can flop down and pout and cry; or he can laughingly come, knowing that it is a game and that he will be safe, no matter what. Our reaction will depend on what we believe about the Father and ourselves. Most of us know that God wants to love us but most feel that we are unlovable.
The Shulamite maid felt the same way. She said, I am so black … do not look at me (SS 1:5,6). She was also isolated from her family. She said, “My mother’s sons were angry with me;
They made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept” (SS 1:6). They were her mother’s sons but she didn’t have enough connection to call them her brothers. They made her work in their vineyards to the neglect of her own. She didn’t have good boundaries because she felt inferior and ugly. That allowed other to use and abuse her. Watchmen will always make you feel disqualified but Jesus already qualified you for full entrance into the family of God when He bled and died for you on the cross.
It is the accusations that we are unfit to get close to Jesus; that we are ugly in our sin; that we are only good as slaves and must earn our place; that we don’t deserve to be blessed with favor, which keeps us from stepping into that place of intimacy where He can love on us.
The Shulamite had to view her lover’s glory and not look at her inadequacies in order to find Him. My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand. His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy, And black as a raven. His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, Washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, banks of scented herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His hands are rods of gold set with beryl. His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem! (SS 5:10-16).
As she thought on Him and extolled His virtues she shifted her mindset and could then say, I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine (SS 6:3). It is as we behold Him that we become aware of how much He loved us and forgave us. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins (1John 4:10). He loves us. We need to hear that said over and over. Our love for Him will increase as we see how much we are forgiven. Jesus said of the women that washed His feet with her hair that she loved much because she had been forgiven much, but he who is forgiven little loves little (Luke 7:47).
Behold Jesus; how much He loved you; how much you have been forgiven and how beautiful He is and you will again fall in love with Him. Don’t beat yourself up or receive accusation from anyone. You are completely forgiven (even while you are sinning) and wonderfully loved all the time. Just feel the love; it is there if you will receive it.