Rise Up, My Love (155): Self-Absorbed

Jesus Knocking at DoorSong of Solomon 5:5 “I rose up to open to me beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.” He reached out to her with his hand, but could not reach her…and at last her heart was moved! Finally, she rose up to open, but notice that she was still thinking about herself! This is an amazing thing. Have you ever had someone knocking insistently at your door? What is the first thing you do? The normal response is to call out an answer. If you can’t come to the door instantly, what do you usually say? For me, it’s either, “Come on in—the door’s open!” (meaning “unlocked”) or else, “Just a minute! I’ll be right there,” if I know it will take a few seconds.

But, the bridegroom had not been knocking at that instant; he had been reaching. Could it be that we as humans are more responsive to the irritation of an insistent knock than we are to the quiet demonstrations of love? Sorrowfully, I acknowledge this tendency in myself. Like the unjust judge in Luke 18, I am all too often moved more quickly by the “importunate” person than by the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit…more tuned to the demands of those around me than to the guidance of the Spirit within me.

After our Lord has called to us, he reaches out to us silently with his nail-scarred hand. When we respond, may it be with our hearts crying out, “I’m coming, Lord!”…not with our hearts distractedly thinking about ourselves!

From the time the bride decided to open the door until the time she actually got it open was long enough for her husband to think she was not coming and leave. Why didn’t she call out to him? Why didn’t she say, “Okay, I’m coming! Just a minute.” Why? Because she was distracted! Instead of thinking about him, she was still thinking about herself! Look at what was on her mind as she went to answer the door: “My hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.”

The bride was more concerned with her own comforts and appearances than with her husband’s needs. This is what led to their separation. She was more taken with her own fragrances and graces than she was with his needs. This is why she didn’t cry out to him until it was too late. Oh, beloved, do you see the parallel in our lives as believers?

It was he who had made her beautiful. The fragrance of myrrh was his gift to her. The comfortable bed…the clean feet…the rest…were all because of his provision for her needs. How quickly she had gone from loving the lover to loving his gifts! How quickly she had forgotten to be grateful for all he’d done!

I have heard the line that a genius is unbearable unless he maintains purity and an attitude of gratefulness. I would enlarge that to say that each and everyone of us are unbearable unless we have pure and grateful hearts! The bride had become outwardly purified, but not within; she had failed to remain grateful.

She had put off her coat…soiled and smelly from the work of the day. She no longer wanted to work, nor did she want to take a chance on getting dirty again. She had put off her coat…her old ways. She no longer wanted to bear the shame and reproach of being accused of her old, evil ways. She didn’t want to jeopardize her reputation. She was willing to accept Christ’s cleansing and provision, but she stopped short of wanting to enter into his suffering and shame.

Her hands dripped with myrrh, and her fingers with “sweet smelling myrrh.” Consider that her beloved’s locks were filled with the “drops of the night” but her hands with drops of myrrh. He did all the work, but she received the benefit. Myrrh speaks of suffering…the anointing of Christ’s death (John 19:39). She carried upon her person the fragrance of his death, although He had done all the work and suffering to make her fragrance possible.

Really, the call of Christ is the call to the power of resurrection life, not death, as she may have feared. (And, don’t we sometimes find ourselves fearing that we’ll die when God calls us into midnight service?) At this point, her indolence, ingratitude, lack of faith, and desire to protect her reputation kept her from experiencing the power of resurrection life that always follows the death of suffering and shame.

Thus far, the Lord had protected her and raised her up to a position of beauty and power, but now he calls her to bear the load with him…to open to him at an inconvenient time…to reach out in the dark…to accept the challenge of Philippians 3:10-11, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

This is why she failed to cry out! Her heart wasn’t completely in it. She was thinking about herself and how lovely she’d become! She was thinking about her spiritual graces and beauties and fragrances! How far she had fallen from, “Look not upon me, for I am black.” Better to be black and feel unworthy of his glance than to be so filled with self that we don’t want to be bothered even to make it possible for him to see us! He who is forgiven much loves much…but for how long? Who was justified? The publican or the Pharisee? How had this bride gone from the humility of the publican to the pride of the Pharisee?

Oh, beloved, as we grow in Christ and flourish like vines…as the delightful fruits and fragrances of the Holy Spirit begin to beautify us…let’s make sure our eyes and hearts stay tuned to the Lord, eager for His return, eager for his call, eager for his approval! Let’s not be distractedly thinking about ourselves and our position and reputation when the Lord calls, but may we call out, “Here am I Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8); “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 3:9-10), and run to open the door!

 

 

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