Today I am honored to have Charis from At the Gate Called Beautiful guest posting about encounter in the wildnerness (Song of Songs, Chapter 2). I just know you will be blessed!
My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me…” Song of Solomon 2:10
It is a wooing voice… do you hear it? It is soft and steady, yet strong and unmistakable. Come with me. Come with me. Come away.
A couple of years ago a revelation hit me that I was not sure I wanted to hear: the wilderness is the place of encounter. You see, I had always described my dry and painful seasons as my wilderness seasons. We all have them. They are the times when we feel the most hidden: invisible really. We feel that we are walking around in circles through a hot desert and all that we want is a cool drink of water… the touch of the Holy Spirit upon our dry hearts. We can look for miles in all directions and see nothing. I used to despise the wilderness. I thought it was punishment for somehow doing something wrong.
When the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “the wilderness is the place of encounter,” I was in the midst of my own wilderness. When I had my first child I decided to become a stay at home mom after working very full-time in the education field teaching second grade. Near the same time I went from being involved in all forms of ministry, from teaching at a ministry school and leading worship, to being involved in nothing. The doors that had been wide open in favor seemed to slam shut.
In addition to this, I was struggling with disappointment and fear. I had just come off of a disappointing end to a stand in faith for the healing of my Grandpa who was battling pancreatic cancer. My own first-born son had a rocky start to life when he stopped breathing at 4 hours old. At the same time I faced some health scares myself that left me paralyzed by the fear of premature death. I struggled to hear the voice of God with which I was so acquainted… I would walk by my piano without touching the keys that previously brought me into His presence and struggled to open the Word that I previously would devour.
I felt alone, hurt, misunderstood, and confused. I longed for the nearness of the Lord because the God who once felt so close felt so far away. I was sure that the dry wilderness I found myself in was something of my own making… somehow my own fault. I did not know then what I know now: He calls the one He loves into the wilderness because He longs to have intimacy and encounter. The wilderness is not birthed out of punishment, but out of desire.
I have always loved the story of Moses asking God to show Him His glory, but had not previously realized that this amazing encounter took place in the wilderness. Moses was leading the people of Israel around and around in circles in a dry weary land… and yet in this land he had an encounter with the Living God that many of us dream of having today.
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33
It was during my own wilderness time that the connection between the love story in the Song of Solomon and my favorite story of Moses encountering the intimate glory of God hit me: Song of Solomon is the only place in the Bible that also speaks of encounter in the cleft of the rock… and I do not think that was an accident!
The Lord told Moses that He was going to hide him in a cleft of a rock when He was going to pass by Moses and show Him His glory. Encounter.
In the Song of Solomon the Lover says to the beloved:
My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Song of Solomon 2:14
In one story it was Moses crying out to the Lord, “Let me see Your face! Show me Your glory! I cannot go on without You!” In the other it was the Bridegroom crying out to His beloved, “Let me see your face! Let me hear your voice! You are lovely to me! Your voice is sweet to my ears!”
The wilderness… the very place where we hide in the cleft of a rock because we feel alone, dry, weary, desperate for an encounter or we cannot bear to go on… this is where the Lord delights in our cry to Him! He calls our cry for encounter sweet! He says our face, in the midst of our broken state, is lovely! In our darkness He calls us beautiful. As He leads us He speaks tenderly.
As we ask to see Him,
He asks to see us.
This is the love relationship of a Bridegroom and His bride calling back and forth in longing and desire to know and be known.
It is in the wilderness times that we realize our total dependency upon and need for the One who gives us life and fills our hearts with love. When He draws us to the wilderness it is not for our punishment. Rather, He desires that we could be known in the way that we have always longed to be known and know Him in a way we did not realize was possible and available to us. When we despise the seasons of hiddenness, pruning, and longing we miss the priceless opportunity He has laid before us: encounters with the glory of God!
And only after we meet Him in the place of intimate encounter will we be able to confidently say,
My lover is mine and I am his. Song of Solomon 2:16
What has been your experience in the wilderness times? Have you been crying out recently for an encounter with the Lover of your soul? Have you ever heard Him calling out for an encounter with you? I would love to hear a bit of your own journey in the comments below. And don’t forget to link up below any time between Wednesday and Saturday with what God is speaking to you about this portion of scripture.
Charis, (pronounced ka-reese), her husband Bill, and 4 boys are full-time intercessory missionaries involved in establishing a House of Prayer in Redding, Ca. She loves laughing, cuddles with her kids, date nights, chocolate, the outdoors, and worshipping Jesus. Her blog At the Gate Called Beautiful is a place where she seeks to share what the Lord has given her on her journey of following Him and encourage others to pursue knowing Him intimately.
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