Desperately Seeking Jesus

"Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon?" Song of Songs 1:7

It was a Friday evening in 2004. The school hall was packed full of noisy high school kids. The lights were on bright so you could see everyone around you and when the music began to play everyone danced, clapped, sang along. It was fun, a welcome break from the boring routine.

Later that night when I saw him and heard his voice, I moved towards him as if propelled by something outside of me. My legs had a will of their own, right, left, right, left. And when I reached the other side of the room, something on the inside of me cracked and the dam wall came crashing down.

I collapsed right there and cried like I’d never cried before because that night, at a youth church service, I’d seen Jesus in a way that I’d never seen him before.

Today I’m older, wiser and much more independent. We sit across from each other at the table every night, usually in a comfortable silence. But occasionally I’ll chatter away about my day, while he’s doing whatever. I hope he’s listening. We’ve settled into a predictable routine, week-in, week-out.

I don’t know when my love cooled; I don’t when your loved cooled. There was no decidedly definite point. But somewhere between that first encounter and now, you became jaded. You lost your awe and fascination. You lost your fire and in its place is something much less all-consuming.

You can control it. You can be rational and level headed. You can be more dignified.

Is this what mature faith is? Is this what it means to reach the nadir of knowing God? The comfortable silence crystallises into cold indifference. The chasm grows wider and wider; the cross fades into the distance.

"Restless in bed and sleepless through the night, I longed for my lover. I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.

So I got up, went out and roved the city,
hunting through streets and down alleys.
I wanted my lover in the worst way!

I looked high and low, and didn’t find him. And then the night watchmen found me as they patrolled the darkened city.“Have you seen my dear lost love?” I asked.

No sooner had I left them than I found him, found my dear lost love. I threw my arms around him and held him tight, wouldn’t let him go until I had him home again, safe at home beside the fire." Song of Songs 3:1-4

The desperation that’s expressed by the Beloved in this passage is the same desperation that we are meant to feel at the idea of being away from the presence of the Lord, even for a moment. It’s persistent, it’s painful and it doesn’t take no for an answer!

And it doesn’t matter how far we’ve gone and how long you’ve been away, it’s never too late, it’s not to late for us to return.

Where do we start? Like the Beloved, a good place to start is longing or desire. A good place to start is desperation.

Prayer:
God, I long to know you and to hear your voice. My desire is to be where you are and to follow you wholeheartedly. Help me, Holy Spirit, and fill me with passion for Jesus, a fire that cannot be put out, a love that cannot be quenched.
In the name of Jesus, Amen!

Honey love,
Shulaxoxo

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Be Ready, Your Breakthrough is Coming

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This week’s devotion by

Shula

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them. But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy drowsy and fell asleep.” Matthew 25: 1-5

A day or so ago I came across an interview of a successful executive who was explaining his rise in the banking business. He relates how, for some reason, he had decided that that work was not for him and was going to resign from the company. But he did not and 6 months later he received his most significant promotion in his career, “Imagine if I had quit 6 months before that? I would not be here right now.”

When I look at my life right now, it looks nothing like I had imagined. I feel like a farmer who planted her seeds on time, watered them, tended the soil diligently but has no fruit to prove it. Of course, there are some really good things that have happened in the first part of 2014, but none of the things that I have been hoping for have come through.  And right now, your life probably does not look the way you were hoping it would look by now. You have been waiting for that job, those finances, a baby, even a man. You are in desperate need of some breakthrough!

Dealing with delays

Jesus used parables to explain His concept of the Kingdom and one of these is the story of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. In the previous chapter, Jesus says “No one knows the day or the hour” of His return and He uses this parable to illustrate his point. Each of these women were waiting to greet the bridegroom, they were waiting for a breakthrough. Like you and me. But only 5 out 10 actually saw the breakthrough in the end, what did the 5 do that the other did not?

What separates those who see breakthrough from the ones who do not? If you read the story, let us take note of a few things. They all went out for the same reason. They all took their lamps with them. They all fell asleep. But only 5 of them were actually ready to greet the bridegroom. In the middle of the night, when they least expected it, they all got tweets letting them know that the bridegroom was here:

RT @townherald Hey girls, groom’s here,come say hi! Don’t forget lamps. cc @virg1 @virg2 @virg3 …

Are you ready?

More often than not, God’s timing is completely different to ours. We think ‘soon’ means next week but He means next year. But even in that space of not knowing when something is going to happen, Christ commands us to “Be alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.” In effect what this means is

We need to live as though our breakthrough was coming today, even if it only comes tomorrow.

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, my encouragement to you is be ready because although your breakthrough delays, it is coming! If it is a job you are waiting for, buy some work clothes and touch up on your knowledge, if it is a baby, get clued up on motherhood.

Ultimately, remember that this life that we live today is all in preparation of eternity and that is what all this waiting is about. Don’t be caught napping.

Prayer:

Lord, as I wait for my breakthrough, teach me how to trust you and keep me alert (whatever that means). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Honey love,

shula xoxo

 

When you are at your lowest, God leans down.

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Grapes, by @ooeygooey

This week’s devotion by
Shula

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Have you ever woken up and just felt down? Yesterday I woke up feeling really discouraged. All I could see was everything that has not gone right, everything that was out of my control.

I was home alone so I took advantage and went to sleep again, exhausted from thinking and thinking and thinking … What if everything falls apart? What if you fail? What if… My sleep gave me no relief, hours later the questions still rolling around in my mind. I needed some answers. Or something, anything.

In a few hours I had managed to think myself into an emotional tizz.God where are you? I really need you. This was not frustration, it was something worse and it alarmed me a little. I was slipping into a dark and bleak place and was not able to just snap out of it. A song came to me, softly, softly:

“My heart seeks you in desperation, no one knows me like you do.”

So I grabbed my Bible and as I paged through it randomly, not sure what I was looking for, I came across this verse:

“If you follow my statutes and faithfully observe my commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the trees of the field will bear fruit.
Your threshing will continue until grape harvest, and the grape harvest will continue until sowing time; you will have plenty of food to eat and live securely in your land.” Leviticus 26: 3

Grapes, that rang a bell. It reminded of the story of the Israelites who sent scouts to check out the Promised Land. All but one brought back a bad report: the land was flowing with milk and honey and the grapes were massive. But so were the men. Intimidated, the Israelites went into a panic and in that moment decided that all the trouble they had seen in their journey through the wilderness was not worth risking their lives entering the promised land, Our children will be plunder! they cried. Their lowest point was when they saw their own smallness instead of God’s greatness. What they should have said was: Hey, God said this land is ours, let’s go get those grapes!

Yet even in their ignorance and unfaithfulness, God still took care of them. Sure, He was angry but He never once left them.

Hours later, I was still pondering the mystery of God’s faithfulness and doing some research on grape farming when my mom and sister arrived from town. The usual greetings were exchanged and I received the groceries they brought with them.

My mother could not have known that what she had in her hand was God’s way of whispering in my ear I’m here.  I smiled a little as she handed me a box of dark, seedless grapes. She had been gone all day and could not have known their significance: Go girl, get those grapes!

It was all I needed to remind me that when I am at my lowest, God leans down.

When times are tough, never let the discouragement of life  shake you from the assurance that God is right here with you. Your dreams are big and the obstacles between here and there are massive, but your God is gargantuan!

Be strong and courageous, He will never leave you, nor give up on you, nor fail you. I hope you hear the voice of the Father saying, even now: I’m here, let’s go get those grapes!

Prayer:

Father, I thank you that you are forever faithful and you never change. You know all my fears and anxieties and you are near to me. Give me the courage and help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.

*Shula loves God and people and her dream is to see women empowered to live out their God-given purpose. Caramel popcorn is the quickest way to her heart. She also blogs at Sheepish Shulamite.

the bible and women :: is the bible sexist?

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“This one will be called woman, for she was taken from man.” Genesis 2:23

Do you remember the first time you heard in mathematics class that sums like: 5 – 12 were possible? Up until that point we had been taught that you can only subtract a smaller number from a larger number, the idea of negatives had not been introduced to us. Five minus twelve was always met with shouts of, “It can’t!” from the class.

Well, as we know now, it can. The presupposition which was at one time helpful turned out not to be strictly true. In fact, from about the third grade onwards, we learned that a lot of the things we had been taught to think were not the whole truth. We were slowly being weaned from being taught what to think to being taught how to think. For ourselves.

Many of us have never deeply considered the question of whether the Bible is sexist and yet underlying that question is an important question: is God sexist? A good starting point for this question is this:

“Historically, wherever Christianity has spread, the status of women has improved. Those countries where women are most exploited today are those with least exposure to the Gospel.” Sharon James, Does the Bible Demean Women?

The usual problem areas are: submission in marriage, the different roles of men and women and women in ministry. Evangelical feminists argue for an interpretation of the Bible that reinterprets the ‘problematic’ passages by relying on Scriptures that support mutual submission rather than a wife submitting to her husband. On the other hand, there are feminists who say that the Bible is not an authority on the issue. Later in her article, James outlines some presuppositions that are held today:

Presup 1: Equality means sameness. Talk of different roles is discriminatory.

Presup 2: Difference in role relates directly to personal worth. Submission equals relegation.

Presup 3: Women will be empowered only when they have become the same as men (filling the same jobs and reaching the same status).

Your turn.

Let us think, for ourselves.
What is your response to these presuppositions?
Do you agree/ disagree?
Is the Bible sexist?

Leave your comments below, what do you think?

Honey Love, Shula

Got questions, comments or just want to chat? Email Shula realmukoko@gmail.com