Inasmuch as I love fellowship in the Orthodox church, (I’ve actually done that all my life), there is one thing I never really could understand about the adult members of the church while I was growing up.
On Sundays, they arrive church together, walk in through the western door, when they get to the beginning of the aisle, the wife goes left and the husband goes right. Initially, I thought it was a tradition that communicants had to live by (not sitting with your spouse in church). But then I became a communicant and realised there was no such thing. It was as if the very act of marriage was forbidden. Couples in church never really looked happy, and coming from a broken home. This was not a good impression of marriage to me.
Thank God for an early intervention in my life and an introduction into the romance filled world of Mills and Boon (God help the publishers of that series). I realised marriage was and should not be anything like I saw in church.
M&B (as it’s called), especially the Temptation series, ushered me into a new world of fantasies. Where love was beautiful. The man you fall in love with had to be handsome, strong, most times wealthy; and always willing to hold your hands, stay by your side, kiss you like forever, and leave butterflies in your tummy. He was the man who never wanted to leave your side even in church. And even as a teenager I began to dream of that man. I wasn’t going to be married to an unromantic man, the kind of man that would be unwilling to sit beside me in church, I was going to find my M&B man.
Thank God for salvation and deliverance from books like M&B, they sure make a teenager go on adventures that are self-destructive. Thank God I don’t have a daughter who would be tempted to read those books (O Lord, please let my next baby be a boy, Amen!). But you know truthfully, one of the reasons I love God so much is, he is so much more romantic and adventurous than all the authors of M&B can be.
Being born-again, working as a missionary in the village, casting aside all pleasures of flesh, the Lord still led my M&B man to me. I wasn’t exactly praying about it (you know when we become born again, we begin to judge some prayer requests as carnal), but somewhere deep in my heart I desired it. And God, who knows even the intent of our thoughts, and whose will is perfect, did it for me. Wow! Even a Temptation series cannot accommodate our love story. Three days after we met, we were at the registry wanting to get married (but that’s a story for another day *wink*).
Talk about butterflies in my belly, they were nonstop! This man totally makes me melt on my feet. It’s been eight years, so many quarrels, arguments, fights but still I wake up loving him more daily.
Marriage is beautiful!
In the times when we are holding hands seated side by side in church; in the moments we are cuddled on the sofa watching a movie; those times we hold hands kneeling beside our bed crying our hearts out to God; the many times we are broke and distressed and all we have is each other; times when I feel his bare skin beneath the sheets; even times when we argue so furiously, I look into his eyes, and hmmmmm…… Marriage is just beautiful!
But there is one marriage and one lover who totally exceeds my man at being romantic.
One relationship so pure and can be hugely intimate (if you allow it). A lover so real, yet totally invisible, but you hear his voice so soundly in your heart.
Intimacy in humans might sometimes seem perfect but trust me, humans are nothing near perfection. This is the kind of romance where every whisper is true, every promise is kept, trust is never broken and this lover is always there.
And all He desires in return for this love is your reciprocation.
And that’s the one thing so many of us as Christians fail to do.
We simply fail to reciprocate this love. Or better said, so many Christians do not know how to reciprocate this love. This is because many of us really do not know how to be expressive or be intimate. Not with our spouses and not with God. The entire idea of intimacy (especially in Africa) has been tagged a carnal emotion in the church. And this owes largely to our ignorance of the Word. We feel compelled to relate with God more as a servant to his master.
I’ve been a Christian for going on 38 years and I can say I haven’t heard the Song of Solomon read more than ten times in the church. Except for when worshippers use words like Lily of the valley, Rose of Sharon. Or when to be couples use verses from the book for the toast on their wedding invitations.
Have you ever wondered why the Song of Solomon isn’t often read in church? Perhaps it’s all too romantic, the words? So the church thinks of it as carnal? I really don’t know. But I know this: if Jesus sees the church as his bride, then we should indeed begin to act as the bride.
Fall in love with your God. Be expressive in your relationship with Christ. It shouldn’t just be a slave-master relationship; it’s more a love relationship. If you have any doubts about this then take time and study the book of Solomon. It’s become my very own sanctified M&B. Enhancing my love relationship between my physical lover and my spiritual lover. The more I study the Song of Solomon, the more I understand what kind of relationship my Lord desires of me.
For a while I was so lost in practice of the servant-master relationship with God. This made fellowship with him very difficult. It was like a burden. I struggled to keep up with my devotions, praying, bible studying and especially praise. It was so hard to praise. Everything felt so mechanical and keeping up with the timings and routine made it feel so unreal.
I know there are those times when it’s a father and daughter relationship between us, times when he is more a friend, times when I’m reporting as a servant to my master but I really desired a relationship where I could feel free to just stay in Lord’s presence and enjoy intimate moments of praise and worship. Where I could bare my heart and not feel judged for my sins but feel comforted in the love and warmth of his presence. To truly hear him speak to me even as I poured my heart out to him. And to not worry about time or keeping up with a particular routine.
You may find relating with God, fellowship with him, reading the bible and praying a struggle (just like many married folks struggle through their relationships) until you learn the acts of true intimacy with God (and many married folks need to learn the acts of intimacy with their spouses).
Until you understand worship is opening up and laying bare in the warm embrace of the one who loves you, who created you, who knows you better than you know yourself and who desires a relationship with you, you’ll always feel a void and an emptiness when you come before God. You would not totally enjoy the freedom to express yourself as you should or even say the things you want to in his presence. The struggle of understanding that He is a mighty God who can humble Himself so much as to take a place in your heart and be with you and listen to you, and enjoy time of fellowship with you.
It’s worth every moment having a love relationship with the Lord. That’s the best way to truly know Him, feel Him, learn of Him, and grow in Him.
Let us learn to be expressive and not rigid. Let us practice being intimate. Let’s try to study the Song of Solomon.
God bless you.
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