Song of Solomon 5:6 “My soul failed when he spake…” In the Hebrew, this same expression is used in Genesis 35:18 to describe Rachel’s death. It’s as if the bride is saying, “I nearly died!” or, “My heart stopped beating.” How careless she had been…until it was too late. She failed him when he needed her, and now her heart melted in his absence. How the memory of his words must have broken her heart! “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.” She must have chastised herself! “What a lazy, selfish person I am. He appealed to me in such tenderness, and I ignored him. He who has done everything for me…and I wouldn’t even be bothered to let him come in to the warmth and fellowship of our home. The king came to me—and I am so utterly undeserving of his love—but I refused him! How could I have ever been so unfeeling and foolish?”
Do you ever find yourself coming to the Lord in such remorse? I do. In the brethren assembly I attended for many years, we had a “breaking of the bread” service every Sunday, and there were many times when I came to the communion table feeling ashamed and utterly unworthy of the privilege offered me. There is a contemporary song with this stinging rebuke: “Christ rose from the dead, and we can’t even get out of bed!”
Sometimes our indolence is from laziness, but sometimes it is from exhaustion due to misplaced priorities. When I wrote this mediation, it was Christmas vacation at our house, and the seemingly endless round of activities and company—all individually good but cumulatively almost overwhelming—made it harder than ever to have the precious times of sitting at the feet of Jesus which he so richly deserved and I so desperately needed! After all, isn’t Christmas supposed to be a time to honor Christ and celebrate his birth? In America, materialism (in this case—exchanging presents)…and even charitable deeds…compete every day for our time and attention, and we are challenged to become unwitting idolaters…all in the name of Christ!
“I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.” He had withdrawn—disappeared into the night—left without a word about where he was going. How like our foolish, carnal nature to understand only the value of what we’ve lost! How many times are we careless with the feelings and needs of those closest to us, minimizing their value and “taking them for granted” until they’re gone…sometimes forever!
Have you known the stinging loss of a loved one? I have stood beside many a casket in the past 10 years, and it appears to me that the deepest anguish may not be over losing a beloved one with whom there has been a full and satisfying relationship, but over losing a loved one where there have been unfulfilled hopes and dreams…where all the “somedays” had never come to pass and now—in stark and terrible reality—it becomes painfully and irrevocably obvious that they never will. The if only’s and I wish’s are the most unbearable. Too late to say, “I love you.” Too late to say, “I’m sorry!” Too late to say, “Thank you.” Too late to say, “Let’s try again.”
I once heard it said that if we suddenly knew that the world would end in ten minutes, every telephone around the world would be in use with people calling to say, “I love you,” or trying to make things right. How much better it would be to take at least the first five minutes crying out to God, “I love you!” and making sure all is right between us and the lover of our souls!
But, why wait until our world is coming to an end? Why not make it the cry of our hearts each morning before we ever depart our beds, and each evening before we ever drift off to sleep?
Dear Holy Spirit, convict our hearts of sins that need to be forgiven, of offenses that need to be made right, of sentiments that need to be expressed, and then please give us the courage and power to take the actions that need to be taken—now—before it is too late. Convict us concerning our relationships with other people…but first and foremost…in our relationship with God our Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and you, our holy Teacher, Comforter, and Guide. Amen.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Psalm 95:6-8).