Posts tagged “prose

Day 2: Love Stories

Posted on 11/07/2016

I am a sucker for love stories. Have always been. There is something about witnessing the union of two different people coming together because of their love for each other. I especially enjoy listening to the couple share their side of the love story, and watch the dreamy smile on the woman’s face or the quizzical yet pleased grin on the man’s face as they share how they met. I’m often in awe at the end, amazed that of all the love story writers, God writes the best ones.

As a single woman, it’s hard not to wonder when He’ll write mine. It’s often on my mind whenever I witness a love story unfold before my eyes. As a writer, I often weave romantic tales of two completely different people meeting and falling in love. It comforts and unsettles me at the same time, wondering when God will write my story. But I’m patient (though I lapse into a state of doubt occasionally) as I wait for Him to unfold mine.

So in my curiosity to discover God’s beloved, I flip through the pages of His love letter, reminded that if he can write the greatest love stories for others, His own must be amazing.

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

Today, this verse repeats itself in my mind. I flip to my trusty concordance and pause at Songs of Solomon. My fingers falter as a blush creeps up my neck. Songs of Solomon, the forbidden book of the Bible.

In my youth, that taboo book was never visited. And whenever the church had to reference it, which was as often as a red moon, it was referenced at weddings. An audacious pastor is reduced to stuttering and shifty eyes whenever he reads Songs of Solomon, and rightly so. It is explicit, bold and passionate.

Yet, as I hesitantly flip through the short book of love, I notice something I haven’t before. Songs of Solomon is about a lover rejoicing in His Beloved.

Songs of Solomon 6:3, ESV

“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.”

This refrain and many more in Songs of Solomon, speak of a passionate lover who seeks his Beloved and bride. Some who are brave enough to read this book without blushing argue that the lover is Solomon and the Beloved one of his many courtesans. I prefer to believe that the Lover is God and the Beloved is to be known.

Yet I wonder why God allowed such a passionate book to be enveloped between the vulnerable expository of Solomon and the directive of Isaiah. It seems out of place, at first sighting.

In Isaiah 62:1-7, the prophet Isaiah speaks of Zion’s restoration. He prophesies of her transformation from desolation to glory, of being called by a new name and becoming royalty. But the verses that stick out to me are verses 4-5.

Isaiah 62:4-5, NIV

“No longer will they call you Deserted or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

I sit back with a quizzical smile. Of course Songs of Solomon is placed right before Isaiah, because God has written this passionate, explicit love letter to His Beloved, Zion.

I flip back to Songs of Solomon with less hesitance now, curious about God’s passion toward Zion, a nation also known as Israel. All throughout history, he has spoken of his unconditional love toward his Beloved, even when she was unfaithful. Time and time again, Zion/Israel has turned away from God’s passionate love to seek unsatisfying affairs with gods of other nations, imbibing in rituals and religions of gods that can’t speak or save. Yet, God still beckons his Beloved back to him.

Okay, so God’s Beloved is Israel. That much is clear. I’ve known that for a while now, each book of the Bible recanting God’s unfailing love and patience toward a people he has called his own. My discovery of God’s Beloved has come to an end, or so I think.

I scroll through my concordance, to check if I’ve forgotten something. Then a verse sticks out and I flip to it quickly, a smile lighting my face as I come to it.

Hosea 2:23, NIV

“I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

It is no surprise that God has always favored one nation over another, it is written from Genesis to Hosea. God punished the “unloved ones” while showing grace and love to His Beloved for centuries. Yet in Hosea, this blessed love is shown to the unloved ones… a people outside of Zion.

My heart skips a beat and another as a truth settles in my conscience. This love letter isn’t just written for a wayward bride Zion. God’s love letter is for me. I am God’s beloved and He is my God.

I let out a laugh and allow myself to smile in the early moments of the day. Now that I am made aware of who this letter is written for (me!), I begin to look at the verses of love a bit differently, more clearly.

God is writing my love story with Him as my lover. Psalms reads a little differently, I find myself blushing through Isaiah and Jeremiah. Even Songs of Solomon makes me giggle, my heart light as I realize something. He has been calling since Day 1, perhaps even before my journey began. I had casually studied the Bible, his love letter, not knowing all long He had addressed it to me.

I am His Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

What a pleasant surprise indeed.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for revealing to me that I am your Beloved. Your blessed and passionate words of love to those you have now called yours has become dearer to me. Thank you for accepting me as your own, for calling me yours. I pray that on this journey, I will discover who I am in your eyes. Help me to accept your love and to allow myself to be known as fully yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Day 1: The Beginning

Posted on 28/06/2016

It began as a quest to find sleep. I am of the firm belief that every ailment or struggle has a solution in the Bible… even evasive sleep. For as long as I can remember, sleep didn’t come easy for me. I am a self-proclaimed light sleeper and I consider heavy sleepers (the kind that pass out once their head touches a pillow) blessed. As I toss and turn in bed, I wonder why the crickets have to be especially loud tonight or why the birds have to sing their song so early, even before the sun comes out… I even hear the bullfrogs croaking from a mile away. Even the sound of the air easing through the vents keeps me drifting out of sleep. The airplane pillow sometimes helps, sometimes not. I refuse to label it, whatever it is… Some insists (mostly my mom) that the hour(s) I toss is considered my hour to pray, to reflect. And perhaps it is, but I am frustrated that it would be when I need sleep the most.

Tonight, I pause and stay awake. I’ve ordered yet another sleep mask. This time with lavender, because it has sleep-inducing properties. But as I click the ‘buy’ button and watch Amazon take my money, I snort in the quiet of my room. Lavender. A natural remedy to sleep. But isn’t there something stronger?

He gives his beloved sleep.

I blink in the dark. Is that a verse that just popped into my mind?

He gives his beloved sleep.

It’s a verse I’ve heard said a thousand and one times before, mostly in my struggle to find sleep.

Sleep that evades me, obtained by Him. By God.

I turn to the table by my bed and sightlessly spot my Bible in the dark. My mom’s caution about this sleepless hour belonging to God echoes in my mind. I hesitate, wanting to try again with sleeping on my own.

He gives his beloved sleep.

I toss back the covers and grab my Bible. And leave the comfort of my firm mattress and airplane pillow. And head downstairs; the birds cheer me on for sacrificing my sleepless hour. It is a begrudging action, one I oftentimes ignore. But tonight, it’s different. I’m searching for something. A cure for sleeplessness.

So with bleary eyes and a weary mind, I pray a short prayer as I flip the pages of my Bible.

“Alright God, I’m awake. Show me something…” while in the back of my mind, I’m whining for sleep.

He gives his beloved sleep.

I pause flipping pages. Sleep. Beloved. He gives.

He gives. Who? God. What? Sleep, which evades me. To whom? His Beloved.

I flip to the concordance at the back, because I can’t recall where I saw this verse. It ironically is in the ‘sleep’ category and not the ‘beloved’ category, and I allow myself an ironic smile as I flip to Psalms.

Psalms 127:1-2, NIV

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

He gives his Beloved sleep.

The word ‘Beloved’ echoes in my head, imprinting itself in my mind.

I spot a verse linked to the word, Beloved.

Deuteronomy 33:12, NIV

“… Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rest between his shoulders.”

Beloved, the one the Lord loves.

My heart skips a beat. The one the Lord loves…

I frown. Who is the one the Lord loves?

I flip back to my concordance, and my eyes widen. Pages upon pages are linked to the word ‘love’ and the conjugates of the word.

As the birds twitter their morning song and the air blows on my face, I sit back and let the realization settle in my mind…

The Bible is a love letter from God to his Beloved.

And whoever His beloved is, finds rest. And blessed sleep.

I sit up, ready to investigate who this letter is addressed to. Because the letter belongs to God’s beloved and if I discover who the beloved is, I find the cure to sleeplessness.

It is 6:00am. The choir of birds and crickets are singing their fifth song, and I’m no longer interested in sleep because I’m seeking something better.

The identity of His Beloved.

Jeremiah 29:13, NIV

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for keeping me awake this morning. Thank you especially for sending your word to my heart, even in my sleepless hour. Your word said that if I seek you with all of my heart, I will find you. I know that finding you, I discover who your Beloved is. Help me on this journey to discover who your Beloved is. Grant me patience to endure as I seek you, and open my heart to receive all you will show me in this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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