“My lover is mine, and I am his.”---Song of Solomon 2:16 (NCV)
Lover: a person who is in love with another; a person who has a sexual or romantic relationship with another; a person who has a strong enjoyment or liking for something, as specified
Well folks, we are at the end of, at least this part of, the Marriage Preparation Instruction series. I know this because before today, I felt an urgency to pen these. Now, there is a peace. However, with that peace, I know that we ALL must keep in mind:
“I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”---Psalm 85:8 (NKJV)
Family, we are in a very privileged position now. God has provided both his princes and princesses with a wealth of knowledge...some that, several married people who have “peeked in on this”, have confirmed that they wish they had known on the front end of their union. We cannot take all of this information for granted or assume that we are not now held spiritually accountable for what we know. Hosea 4:6 doesn't say that “people” are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It says that “My people”...God's people are.
Now, I'd be presumptuous, arrogant and foolish to suggest that, for any of us, the journey stops here. For many, this is either a “breaking up of fallow ground” (Hosea 10:12) or a seed planting time (Ecclesiastes 11:6). However, for some, hear me when I say that you are about to enter into a season of marital harvest:
Harvest: the season when ripened crops are gathered; a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored; the result or consequence of any act, process, or event
However, that doesn't mean that your work is done:
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”---Matthew 9:36-38 (NKJV)
The laborers are few. To reap a harvest, work is involved. That said, some of us have been “sowing in tears” for so long that we have forgotten to acknowledge and accept the other side of that particular Psalm (126:5): that in time, we shall also “reap in joy”. Reaping is work, too (don't get it twisted), but during this “waiting for reaping” season, do not be so weary in your well-doing that you lose sight of what God told you would be the result of your toiling...your hard work...your labor:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”---Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
Due (rightful; proper; fitting) season. You know, one of my favorite fruits are strawberries. As a matter of fact, there are some in the grocery store now, but through trial and error, I know that I can (and should) wait. Yeah, a strawberry is a strawberry, indeed, but there's nothing like one in season. Those are the ones that are bigger, sweeter and actually, not as expensive because during the late spring/summer time, they are in greater abundance. I believe that God wants us to look at his blessings in a similar fashion. You can get married right now, if you want to. You can have the wedding, the honeymoon, the house and picket fence. But, don't you want to wait until it's the right season? Until your wedding and married life can be bigger, sweeter and yes (if you plan it out right), not as expensive than if you had moved in haste?
At the end of the day, that is what this series has been about: showing us how to cultivate the “ripest” and “rightest” kind of marriage. If you read, retain, process and properly apply these tools, I am a firm believer (Psalm 119:66) that you will be way ahead of the majority of people who desire to be married, or are even currently married. The “So, How Did YOU Know?” blog and now the “Before You Jump The Broom” blog (which is where these tips are housed) are not in your space, AT THIS TIME, by coincidence. One of my favorite proverbs of all time is actually by Buddha: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” If you were not ready for this information, you would not have it. However, that said, now that (this particular) class is over, you can best believe that “test time” is ahead; yet, even that is for a purpose:
“For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.”---Psalm 66:10 (NKJV)
Refine:free from impurities; to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured; to make more fine, subtle, or precise; to make fine distinctions in thought or language
Synonyms: better, CLARIFY (looka there, Ziyon!), cleanse, cultivate, elevate, EXPLAIN, filter, IMPROVE, make clear, polish, PROCESS, smooth, temper
You know a lot now. I am confident that a refining time...an intense refining time, will soon follow. Do not lose sight of your goal...of the purpose (Philippians 3:12-14) behind the process. The Enemy is ready to come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) everything that is just within your grasp. DON'T LET HIM.
CONTINUE TO PRAY. (Jeremiah 33:3) God will show you specific and intricate things as it relates to your mate and marriage.
KEEP THE FAITH. (Hebrews 11:1) You cannot please him without it. (Hebrews 11:6)
HONOR HIS COMMANDMENTS. (John 14:21) You can bet on the fact that God will not give you one of his creatures to worship...or abuse.
DON'T STOP JOURNALING. We have been instructed to write the vision and make it plain (clear). (Habakkuk 2:2-3) This would include a love vision.
GET A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM. One of the scriptures that I held close to me all last year runs throughout Song of Solomon: “Women of Jerusalem, promise me by the gazelles and the deer not to awaken or excite my feelings of love until it is ready.” (Song of Solomon 2:7) Remember that marriage is GODLY UNION. You want godly people with godly insight and godly intentions speaking into your life. Watch what you read about relationships. Be careful of who you go to for counsel on relationships. Be prepared to have to let some people (and habits) go in order to get to the person God has purposed for you. No one, after God, should come before your mate. ANYONE who takes issue with that, adjustments will have to be made. ANYONE who is not in support of marriage---a godly marriage---will need to, at the very least, be placed in the “outer courts” of your human trinity (mind, body, spirit). ANYONE who speaks negativity re: your heart's desire, I am confident in saying that, for them, as it pertains to you, their season is up. (Ecclesiastes 3:3) A wise man once said that if you want continue getting what you have, continue doing what you do. To get ANY of God's promises, you must be willing to pay the price of surrender and obedience. ANYTHING OF VALUE COMES WITH A PRICE. (Matthew 13:45-46, Matthew 16:34)
And finally, SOW INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S MARRIAGE. Luke 6:38 (NKJV) tells us, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
The truth? (John 8:32) Some of you are still single because you are so selfish. MARRIAGE IS A MINISTRY; one of the ultimate forms of service. For years, I never knew why, but I have been drawn to helping married couples (and since our charity should be kept on the low, I will leave what I've done between me, them and God.-Matthew 6:1). There is one couple in particular, though, because I have seen in a very “up close and personal” way how truly special and sacred their union is, I am about to put on full blast:
BRIAN AND RACHEL HOCKETT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1QNvmQskT8
I am not the only one who finds this, almost six years of a HAPPY and HEALTHY marriage, to be inspiring. This couple, who waited until marriage to have sex (shoot, went three years without even kissing) and who love God and his purpose for marriage sincerely and intensely, had such a special courtship that the Tennessean allowed me to pen it back in 2003 and just a couple of weeks ago, Rachel was told that a local church even uses that very story as a part of their “courtship curriculum” for young people.
Ladies, trust me, you want to wait for a man who looks at you like Brian looks at Rachel (just check out the video); who can have a room full of women in his presence, but his eyes are always twinkling for you.
Fellas, you want a woman who honors you like Rachel does Brian. This woman is such an example that Proverbs 31, does indeed exist among us. She serves because she is confident in the fact that what she puts out, she gets back...tenfold...as service should be. (http://sohowdidyouknow.blogspot.com/2009/02/brian-speaks-on-how-he-knew.html)
In this time of singleness, I am at complete peace in saying that a part of the “showing of your love for the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:32) should be to adopt a couple to plant seed (it could be money, time, affirmations, babysitting FOR FREE, date planning...let God lead) into. Sowing and reaping is a principle, and sowing into a marriage is definitely a spiritual thing. (Galatians 6:7-8) Don't pick the “popular couple”...pick the one that God assigns to you. He will show you who needs your spirit-led assistance and why, but during this refining/testing time, know that this assignment will be paramount to your progression. The greater the education, the greater the preparation. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. (I Corinthians 3:14)
And now, just briefly, we will go into our “men” and “women” sections. Actually, it will only be a recap of what Solomon and his “dark and lovely” Shulamite beauty shared with one another. Family, we really do have to watch and reverence the power of our words. Off the cuff, one day last year, I said to someone: “When a man can praise me like Solomon did the woman in Song of Solomon and I can do the same, I will know he is the one for me.”
There are KEY THINGS (in bold) that I want you to catch that they both said to one another. “ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-NKJV) Song of Solomon, the most romantic, erotic, and some would say, poetic book in the Bible is no exception:
“How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, you are beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are like doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are white like newly sheared sheep just coming from their bath.
Each one has a twin,and none of them is missing.
Your lips are like red silk thread, and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks behind your veil are like slices of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like David's tower, built with rows of stones.
A thousand shields hang on its walls; each shield belongs to a strong soldier.
Your breasts are like two fawns, like twins of a gazelle, feeding among the lilies.
Until the day dawns and the shadows disappear,
I will go to that mountain of myrrh and to that hill of incense.
My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride.
Come with me from Lebanon, from the top of Mount Amana, from the tops of Mount Senir and Mount Hermon.
Come from the lions' dens and from the leopards' hills.
My sister, my bride, you have thrilled my heart; you have thrilled my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one sparkle from your necklace.
Your love is so sweet, my sister, my bride.
Your love is better than wine, and your perfume smells better than any spice.
My bride, your lips drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue.
Your clothes smell like the cedars of Lebanon.
My sister, my bride, you are like a garden locked up, like a walled-in spring, a closed-up fountain.
Your limbs are like an orchard of pomegranates with all the best fruit, filled with flowers and nard, nard and saffron, calamus, and cinnamon, with trees of incense, myrrh, and aloes— all the best spices.
You are like a garden fountain— a well of fresh water flowing down from the mountains of Lebanon.”---Song of Solomon 4:1-15 (NCV)
One line of this says in the Message Version, “You've captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!” Guys, look for THAT chick. The one who you find mind/body/spirit to be beautiful (having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind). The one who, even in her flaws, you find something special...one of a kind...a good fit for you. The one who does not just have the potential to be your lover, but who you revere as your SISTER in Christ. The one who can thrill your heart (for some of you, I guess that can almost be the equivalent of makes you nervous or tremble) with just one glance of her eye. The one whose love you find to be better to/for you than the best wine; a woman who “invigorates, cheers, or intoxicates like wine”.
A lot of you may not be as poetic as Solomon (after all, his daddy was the psalmist, David), but look for the woman that inspires you to want to sing her praises...either in song, poetry, books, cards or compliments. Look for the one who fills you with so much that there are simply not enough words; that you could go on...and on....and on because she is just THAT wonderful...THAT beautiful...THAT amazing; not just physically, but spiritually. You find that gal, and you are on to something! Stay on the path and don't get lost (in your vices, temptations and issues). A good (virtuous and favor-filled) woman is hard to find!
“Promise me, women of Jerusalem, if you find my lover, tell him I am weak with love.
How is your lover better than other lovers, most beautiful of women?
How is your lover better than other lovers?
Why do you want us to promise this?
My lover is healthy and tan, the best of ten thousand men.
His eyes are like doves by springs of water.
They seem to be bathed in cream and are set like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds of spices; they smell like mounds of perfume.
His lips are like lilies flowing with myrrh.
His mouth is sweet to kiss, and I desire him very much.
Yes, daughters of Jerusalem, this is my lover and my friend.”---Song of Solomon 5:8-16 (NCV)
Ladies, if you have to talk yourself into being into someone, HE IS NOT THE ONE. The other revelation in this? If you have to hide talking about him with your sister friends, he is also not the one. There were some other key things that jumped out at me in these verses (although I do love them all).
For one, to the Shulamite woman, Solomon was better than all of the other lovers she had known...hands down...no question. He was incomparable. Now remember, one definition of “lover” is “a person who has a strong enjoyment or liking for something, as specified”.
The man you see as the “lover above all lovers” yes, on the back end (after marriage) should be holdin' it down, but on the front end, he should be bringing you enjoyment as well. STRONG ENJOYMENT. To your mind/body/spirit, he should be making it his mission to provide for you satisfaction and pleasure. You being delighted should be a priority for him.
We all know that they say that the eyes are the window to the soul. (There is actually scientific proof on that...Google it). A guy has caught your interest? Look at his eyes. Look in his eyes. Ask God to give you the ability to look through his eyes. What do you see? Two definitions of “eye” are “sight” and “vision”. Did you know that a definition of “sight” is “one's range of vision on some specific occasion”? When it comes to you and him, what does he see? (He needs to be seeing SOMETHING...he needs to be open to God revealing.) And, please make sure that your man is a visionary; that he has a plan for his future. I speak from personal experience when I say that there is nothing worse than sitting across the table from a fine man, asking him what he wants to do with his life and he says, “What do you mean?” (I mean, I need to get up from this table!)
And finally, make sure that you desire (to wish or long for; crave; want; to express a wish to obtain; ask for; request) him much, and that he is your lover AND that he is your friend. I think that a part of the reason why God is not always big in instant gratification is because desiring something teaches us how to pray, which in turn keeps us in check concerning who is the giver of all things. Indeed, Ecclesiastes 3:14 tells us that God does what he does (forever) SO THAT MAN WILL FEAR (RESPECT) BEFORE HIM. You see a man who catches your eye/heart? Ask God about him. He'll tell you what you need to know, do...and not do. After all, it was God who made him. He has more information than even the man himself.
The other benefit of desire is that men want to be wanted. I am not saying this as a cosign on stalking, but as a reminder that wanting him now is a good sign that you will want him later. Don't get with some guy, even if he “finds” you, out of fear or desperation. Forever is a long time to spend with someone that you do not crave...want...or long for.
And yes, you must make sure the guy is your friend. For some of you, that means you need to quit being so E-V-I-L. The Bible says that to make friends, you must first show yourself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24) Don't assume that just because a man speaks that he is trying to “get at” you. The Bible says to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23)...not to be a crazed maniac with a barbed-wire fence around your character. And if you're looking for perfection, you can hang that up, too. A friend loves at all times. (Proverbs 17:17) This is not the time to be looking for the mental creation of perfection that your chick flick obsession (that does not exist) conjured up. This is the time to see who you connect with, who you communicate well with, who you can “mess up and forgive” with...who you can trust, have fun, grow “because of and around” with.
Well, my friends, that's a rap. Thanks for walking this out with me. I am looking forward to posting some of you all's stories on the marriage blog sooner than you think (smile). In the meantime, as it relates to sowing and reaping in this area, hold these verses close:
“Justice will be found even in the desert, and fairness will be found in the fertile fields. That fairness will bring peace, and it will bring calm and safety forever. My people will live in peaceful places and in safe homes and in calm places of rest. Hail will destroy the forest, and the city will be completely destroyed. But you will be happy as you plant seeds near every stream and as you let your cattle and donkeys wander freely.”---Isaiah 32:16-20 (NCV)
Just like the economy, successful marriages are in a recession as well. But don't you let that deter you. JUSTICE will be found in the desert (healthy marriage drought). FAIRNESS (God honoring your obedience) will bring you peace...calm and safety. GOD'S PEOPLE will live in peaceful places...safe homes and be in calm rest.
Be happy as you plant your seed. Harvest season is on the way. (Acts 1:7-Message)
Of this, I am finally and peacefully sure.
©Shellie R. Warren/2009