I have something on my heart today and I don’t know how it will all come out. The last several days so many pieces have been coming together to form a chunk of something, and I need to try and put it on paper. I can’t take credit for any of the pieces – and hopefully lots more come (hint hint, that’s what the below comments section is for, too!). I mean, have you ever experienced a living, breathing ‘sermon’ being constructed, made up of different things that various people have shared, and then firmly woven into the very fabric of life? For those who taste or are in body life instead of the mere pastor-sermon-centered structure of “doing church”, you probably know what I mean. :-)
“read by all…being made manifest that you are an epistle of Christ,” 2 Cor 3:3
The burden for the Bride today is this – that you are in a spiritual battle, and it’s a battle of life and death. And the first step to being victorious is to recognize the essence of this battle in the very moment life has you right now. It’s not about you personally and your need for control, security, happiness, or acceptance. These things are completely secondary to the battle for the mature, fruitful manifestation of Jesus Christ in you and the world. It’s about maturity of the Bride of Christ and the advancement of the Kingdom. It’s larger than any one person, and the unified victors will share in eternal spoils.¹
A great definition of ‘spiritual maturity’ that I heard (one of the pieces), is when we begin to care more about other people’s needs, growth, and maturity, then meeting our own.
Another piece to the puzzle… Israel standing at the border of the wilderness and the “exceedingly good” Promised Land¹. The original generation wasn’t in the desert as an offensive army. They were largely wandering, not marching, and as children, they were being taken care of and handed their manna bread every morning. But at the border, the next generation “born in the wilderness,” Josh 5:5, was being encouraged to now, by faith, “take fortified cities- overcome giants – possess land – eat of the spoils.”
“Fear not…they (the strongholds you conquer in faith) will become bread to you“, Num 14:9
Big change here now, to move forward as an army (an “Intimate Kingdom” if you will), and advance something larger than one’s own life! Personally I know what it is like to stand at this border struggling with fear and holding back, both needing and wanting some earthly security and pampering.
There is a time and a place for this, but there is also a critical time for going on with the Lord.
“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Song 8:5
For me the crossover has come (and still comes) in knowing who I am and who I belong to, and then venturing out in the confidence of leaning on Him. “The life I now live in the flesh”² translates into, “You can’t kill a dead man.” Unlike carnal methods, spiritual warfare is successfully waged in faith, which is rest in God.³ Another way of putting it, fruitfulness comes in being past dead. The ‘bed of intimacy’ is as much a place of death as it is a place of new life.
What I am speaking of here is intimacy with Christ in the raw passion of His death, burial, and resurrection. It is not a confidence in ourselves, nor in other people, but a complete surrender to who we are IN Him. It is taking Him at His word and plunging fearlessly into the battle with others who we are relationally joined to, for Kingdom advancement in each other, and in others the Lord is wooing.
And this is what I see in this woman of the Song! She is not a woman wandering in doubts of who she is to the Beloved, and what she wants. She is not striving to measure up. There is a place she has reached sexually and reproductively that speaks of spiritual maturity, and a desperation right from the opening verse that makes her ‘terrible as an army.’ Personally I’m really struck with this. The Bride is called this 3 times in the Song.
Another piece to the puzzle I’d like to recommend is an article about the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 by Lynette Woods. Talk about a power word! The word virtuous does not mean what we have been largely led to believe it means. Not even close. In fact, it’s pretty fearsome what it means. :-) The location of this article is here: http://www.unveiling.org/Articles/women.html
¹ Num 14:7 / ² Gal.2:20 / ³ 2 Cor 10:3-6, Heb. 3:17-19