Read the Bible verses related to each devotion.
Then follow the actions and prayers for yourself and a nonbeliever at the bottom of the page.
READ Song of Solomon 3
I remember clenching a shovel during a cold bitter snowstorm late one night in Buffalo, New York. This was a season in my life where I was “in between” jobs, and come to think of it, I was “in between” all my relationships (both with God and friends). You know that place where you are just hanging on? Not the cool hanging on where you are just having a bad day for a minute. This was really hanging on! The kind where you’re hanging onto a steel bridge, towering far above the water. Your fragile heart is pounding. Your hands are desperately squeezing a rusty steel beam, which is cutting into your already exhausted hands. To make matters worse, you don’t know where God is—yeah that was the kind of “in between” I am talking about.
Well, there I was in one of those “in between” stages. And
to be honest with you, I was tired of hanging on. I was tired of trying to find
an escape from the gaping pain, strangling any thought of hope. I was tired of
trying again. It was at that point that I realized two things. First, no one
dangles well. Second, I needed a miracle.
I was working during the day for a snow removal company,
which was located in Buffalo, New York, where we measure snow in feet. During
the evening, I worked alone as a night watchman. It was then that my girlfriend
(and now wife) gave me a teaching on the LOVE of God, which just happened to be
from the Song of Solomon. In this life altering teaching, I learned the story of Mary
of Bethany. I listened to that teaching every night, sometimes twice a night.
Let me backup and give you the backdrop of this time in my
life. I had made some horrible choices, hurt a lot of people, and dug myself
into a pit of despair. When I got low enough, I threw away the shovel, sat
down, and gave up. Hopefully, you have never been there, but if you have
then you know.
It was there that I faced a lot of things. Such as pride, which is a vile demonic henchman, and I had to face the depravity of my own soul. The thing about snow removal and being a night watchman is you spend a lot of time alone—I mean you’re really alone and wonder where everyone is. The man whose shift I replaced each night, had the 3 to 11pm slot. He was a really
poor man, whose words I could not understand when he spoke. His teeth were falling out,
and he had severe gum disease (he would talk on our office phone a lot and
caused it to smell of rotting flesh.) He owed someone a lot of money, because
at the end of his shift (payday was twice a month), someone was lurking in the
bushes and always took his paycheck. Also, this man had a severe porn
addiction, which controlled his life, (this was before smartphones, so his work
locker was overflowing with filthy magazines). But it was also a place where I
grew in compassion for him. “How?” you might ask.
Well, it was at that point that God triumphantly rescued me. He did not take me out of that vile situation, but gave me the tools to rise up in the strength of what He had already purchased for me at the cross. He showed me that when I was in charge of my own life, I had failed—miserably.
He had called me out of my comfort zone—IN LOVE—and tried to take me DEEPER in
love. I begged for God to come pick me up, gently place me in a well-paying 9
to 5 job with sweet health insurance, a pool in the backyard, and a big truck
parked out front. Instead of giving me what I wanted, He gave me what I
needed—tools to grow in love with Him and gracefully defeat darkness.
I listened to those teachings on the Song of Solomon over
and over and over again until the tape wore out. (I did say tape, that is how
old I am.) Each time the tape reached the story about Mary of Bethany, I wept.
At first, they were tears of pain, but later as I let His love heal me, they
became tears of relief.
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, was a woman who had
her own struggles. But remember she was the one that chose to sit at the feet
of Jesus—she chose the better part (Luke 10:38-42). Since this woman
resolutely loved Jesus, she poured out perfume—lavish perfume, a full year’s
wages, upon the feet of Jesus. Immediately, Judas scoffs at her act, declaring
it was a waste. Jesus, knowing the heart of this woman and the tumultuous task
which lay ahead of Him, rightfully defends this woman for her righteous act.
Later, when Jesus was to face the intense agony of the cross, He chose to go to
her house (Mark 14:3-9). Why? He knew the love of her heart, and her love would minister to Him in His weakest hour.
Jesus declared it was all right for the woman to waste her
life savings by pouring it upon the feet of Jesus. She knew it was ok to LOVE
God and be LOVED by Him. It is right to live your life wholeheartedly for
Jesus. You see, I had never met the Jesus who loved me and wanted to be loved
by me. Instead, I kept my distance from Him, worked really hard, and tried to
earn His favor by doing what was right, which I never could do. Instead of
allowing me to work harder, He compassionately and skillfully confronted me.
You see, while a snow shoveling night watchman, I thought my life was completely falling apart (and by the world’s standards it was). But my life was not falling apart; it was being torn apart by a loving Father. He was confronting my “trying harder,” and my “work hard and maybe God will like you,” issue. He was deliberately confronting all that hindered me from receiving His love.
It was a hard season. One that I never want to go through
again. But it was necessary for me to stop striving, stop allowing the past to
rule my future, stop agreeing with the tormenting lies attacking my mind, and
start allowing His love to penetrate the hardness of my heart. (I still had to
work hard by reading my Bible even when I did not feel like it.) You see love
does win, but only when it is the strongest love of them all—LOVE from
So where are we in the story of the Shulamite? Oh, yes, we
were at the point where she told Solomon to go away. She told the king he
had to go to war without her. And it is right there that we shall see what
happens next. And, of course, we will see if this story fits into your life. So
“By night on my bed I sought the one I love; (Song of Solomon 3:1)
So, king Solomon turns and walks away from her. She stays in the room of comfort, and he goes off to war. She then goes to bed—ALONE! Her lover, friend, and companion is gone. She is utterly alone. This is her first test. The battle in her mind. Undoubtedly, her mind races with thoughts. Did I make the right decision? Is he alive? Will he be mad? Will he love me the same? Maybe you have gone through this time. Then again, maybe you have not, but you will. This moment is inevitable. God will call you upon the mountains. He will call you out of your comfort. He will call you to go with Him where He is. How will you respond?
I sought him, but I did not find him. “I will rise now,” I said, “and go about the
city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought
him, but I did not find him.” (Song of Solomon 3:2)
She reaches that moment of quiet desperation. The pain is too much. This is the dark night of her soul. This is the hardest moment in her existence with king Solomon. She realizes her mistake, her compromise, her lack of obedience; her rebellion has ruined her life. King Solomon was the best thing that has ever happened to her, and now he is gone. She now makes the decision to leave the comfort zone of her bed and search for the one that she loves. Maybe you have reached that moment with the Lord. Maybe you have gone through the dark night of your soul, and you feel the pain of being separated from Him. He called you away, but you did not obey, and then you decided to obey. That is a beautiful place. Why?
Fear no longer has a hold on you, and now you can grow in love. Once you get up and walk away, fear of the future is gone. And, maybe, just maybe that was God’s plan all along. Maybe He was already trying to make sure you’d break free. Next, you mature in love because you are saying yes to leaving your comfort zone and growing closer to LOVE. You are saying yes to obedience. You are saying yes to His kingdom come and His will being done. And maybe, jus