Rise Up, My Love (144): Pure, Unfailing Passion

Butterfly on sweet peasSong of Solomon 5:2 “I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh…” One of the most remarkable lessons I learned as a young woman was that those who are most fit to witness often find it the hardest to do! I was not from a Christian home, and when I became a Christian I can remember thinking, “What in the world is a meek and quiet spirit? I don’t even know what it is…how can I ever develop such??” My mother’s spirit (as she described it) was like the wild mares that ran across the western plains where she grew up… the “free, indomitable, pioneer spirit.” This was my inheritance—and there’s a very good side to having a strong will and an independent spirit—but it has to be tamed by the Holy Spirit in order to be useful to him. On top of that, I was very outspoken…one of those people who usually just alternated feet in the mouth. “Now, let’s see, which foot shall I put in my mouth first today?” But, I was full of faith and love for the Lord, and I witnessed for the Lord constantly and quite naturally. Nothing else was on my mind, and I couldn’t help but share my excitement!

Ten years later I was still enthusiastic…and still outspoken. Shortly after my husband and I married, we began graduate school in a different city and found a wonderful little church to attend. Among the members, one of my favorites was the wife of an elementary school principal. She was lovely inside and out, and I began to try to model her “meek and quiet spirit.” To my utter amazement, one of the first prayer meetings when we prayed together, she asked our small group of women to pray that she would develop boldness, because she was afraid to witness. I was shocked! I thought to myself, “She of all people is the perfect person to witness, because she is so tactful and quiet! Here I am, full of faults and unable to think of the right way to say anything, and yet I can’t stop witnessing…why???”

Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps as we get older, we get tired of rejection and the offense people take at being offered the wonderful news of an answer to their sin problem…which they don’t even admit to having! Perhaps we become so comfortable and happy that we forget what it’s like to be lost. I’m not sure what happens inside people, but I do know that God has a waking pill that should help keep us alert.

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). We’re back to square one. If we want to be awake and revived when our Lord comes to us, then we must be humble! Are we too contented, proud, and lazy to get up and answer the door when God knocks?

God only dwells with those who are contrite and humble. God’s spirit is often most active in the lives of those who are stumbling and failing and falling. Those who “have their acts together”—who are washed, pure, and beautiful—may tend to lose their sense of utter dependence on the Lord for existence. It’s so natural to begin taking our eyes off the Lord and look to ourselves for strength. We forget to wait up for him. We are contented and drift off into a cozy, comfortable sleep…

But, with whom does the Lord dwell? The Lord has two dwelling places: One is the high and holy place (which sounds to me like his heavenly abode), and the other is in the hearts of those who are contrite and humble: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Revelation 3:20-21). He comes to us and makes our heart his home, and he brings us to sit with him on his throne in the “high and lofty place.” He makes us just as comfortable with him “in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6) as he is with us here on earth.

How does this happen? It happens when we are so in love with Jesus that we bask in his presence more than sunshine and feel his disfavor more than darkness. It happens to those who discover that the quenching of his Spirit dims their own hearts (I Thessalonians 5:19), and so they learn to grieve over their sins because they sense how it grieves his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). If Jesus would not quench their smoking flax, how could they bear to quench the bright flame of his Holy Spirit? Through this process believers grow to understand their own spiritual poverty and emptiness…to mourn over their failures, hungering and searching for righteousness because they have learned that only the pure in heart can see God (Matthew 5:8).

These are the ones who are still awake when Jesus comes home at the midnight hour. These are the ones who receive a fresh infilling of his Spirit. These are the ones who are comforted and filled. These are the ones with “Abba, Father” ever on their lips…who speak of him constantly because he fills their vision and answers their cries. Like the infant in the night crying out for milk…like the small child running back to mother to kiss away his hurts… so the young, struggling Christian clings to his Father for mercy and grace. All too often, mature Christians—like adult children—forget to be grateful…to communicate…to long for fellowship…not simply out of need, but also out of love.

Oh beloved of the Lord, are you clean, full, and satisfied? If you are, don’t fall asleep! Don’t let your candle go out by night! Wait up night by night for the Lord to come to you again. Wait for a fresh infilling of his Spirit. As D.L. Moody used to say, we are “leaky vessels!” The Lord fills us up, but we leak and soon need his filling again. Do not forget how much you need him when he has removed you from danger and given you a secure home. Don’t fall asleep before he comes home to you each night! Watch and pray. Watch and pray; watch and pray, and wait for the Spirit of the Living God to fall fresh on you. Make him always your first love—or, if you’ve fallen asleep, hear his voice and open the door—make him your all and all again, and let his name be ever on your lips and his light in your eyes!

 

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