Despite not needing to be at church early today, I still managed to wake up early and after a few minutes of trying to induce myself to fall back to sleep, I decided to get up and have my usual Sunday morning soak in the word. I had read about a paragraph before the Holy Spirit pulled me up, for just not preparing my heart properly! This wasn't some page-turning novel that I had just picked up, but something that was life changing and I needed to be alert and responsive! So I prayed and then went back to reading.
Song of Songs was probably one of the most disputed books of the bible when it came to establishing which books made it into the Bible and which didn't. It doesn't mention God, but it does mention intimacy between a young man and a young woman. I am sure that Christian marriage counsellors can dig deep in the book and come up with a millions things that as Christian couples we need to be doing to make our relationship with our spouse deep and fulfilling.
What really struck me though was the picture it painted of the intimacy that God wants with his people. How many times does the man simply describe the woman? I counted at least three times. The man just reels off a list of her virtues - her eyes, her hair, he neck, her throat, he just works his way down her body! Think of the things he doesn't say. He doesn't say that her grey roots are showing and she needs to visit the hairdresser. He doesn't say that she has bags under her eyes, or a maze of wrinkles, or hairs poking out of her chin. He doesn't say that she is overweight and sagging. If I had a husband that said that and nothing else to me, I would not be happy. Yet how many times when we are spending time in God's presence do we brace ourselves for the inevitable conviction about some aspect of our character or behaviour that we expect God to point out that in his strength we can overcome or deal with? If the man can say nice things about the woman, and this is a picture of God and his people, then surely we ought to be listening to nice things that God says about us!
We seem to be consumed with our faults - whether that is as the Body of Christ, world wide, or our local expression of it, or our own individual walk with Jesus - we seem to be forever nit picking. I am not saying that there are not areas where we cannot improve - we are not perfect, but there are areas where we get it right and we totally overlook them.
When I thought about that this morning, that I am not a miserable failure that gets it wrong time after time, but someone that actually succeeds and triumphs time after time - I have to admit that I cried!
When God spoke to Gideon, he called him a "strong warrior" or something similar. He didn't say, "Hey, Gideon, you pathetic coward, skulking around in a winepress cutting corn." God saw what Gideon had the potential to be and chose to focus on that, not what he was right now. God sees what we will become, not just what we are right now.
I think we all need to tune into God's positive description of us!