Many years ago, I was listening to a talk on discipleship. I wasn’t paying too much attention to what was being said, but as I sat in the back row, a phrase kept coming to my mind.
“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed.”Song of Songs 4:12
It was odd that I kept thinking about this phrase because the Song of Songs was a book of the Bible I rarely read. So why did it come to me when I was bored? I had my Bible with me, so looked up the passage. I read on,
“A garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. Awake, O North Wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow.”Song of Songs 4:15-16
It dawned on me that this was a picture of my life—locked in emotionally with the North Wind blowing. I have felt that fierce wind through so many difficult events in my life. My mother’s attempted suicide, my failures as a parent, the rebellion of children, marriage to a man who wanted to save the world, my reluctance to follow him, the death of my parents, walking with my husband through a heart attack, cancer, stroke, and finally his death, then two years ago losing two grandchildren to cancer, and then almost dying myself a year later.
But the gentle South Wind also blew upon this garden and its spices began to flow, but not quite as I expected. I learned that I was proud, arrogant, judgmental, stubborn, and much more. Christ met me at a communion table with his forgiveness. Again and again through all the hard times, I was surprised by grace. I was no longer reluctant to follow my husband. I had a story to tell. I have lived the truth of the title to my second book, Nothing Is Impossible with God. I have learned that God was and is behind all the hardships of life to reveal more of the riches of his mercy.
A different kind of lockdown
Today I am locked in again. This time it is different. The whole world is experiencing a pandemic, with case counts escalating in many countries. Here in the UK, we are close to a full lockdown. I stay mostly in the house. I don’t go out to church or parties. I’m not able to have friends come and visit. This is hard for me. I enjoy being with people and to isolate in this way is often painful. So how do I cope?
I remember now that I am loved by my heavenly Father. I am no longer an orphan. I can still learn, still teach, still reach out. Before lockdown, when I was in the hospital, I could talk to my roommate and tell her that I almost died, but I knew where I was going.
After my heart valve replacement, I was able briefly to share the gospel with the nurse who took special care of me. Now in lockdown, I am reaching out to women who are struggling. I use Zoom to teach Bible studies on Mark and Haggai, and I was even able to share at a mission’s conference.
Is it hard? Yes it is–for all of us. If Christ were not praying for me, along with friends worldwide, I would not make it. The fact that I want to reach out is all of God’s grace. Do I still struggle with loneliness, pride, unbelief, judgment, being unloving, acting like an orphan? Yes I do, but sin does not define me. I know that I am loved by the Father, prayed for by the Son, and indwelt by the Spirit. This is what defines me.
Now there is time to reflect on how the South Wind also blew into my life:
- My mother struggling with bitterness all her life, came to Christ in her late 90’s.
- My daughters returned and are my friends.
- I grew in faith and finally was in step with my husband’s desire to reach the nations.
- At 95, I am not as strong as I was, but I am still able to walk, to write, and to talk.
- I am blessed with 24 grandchildren, and 51 great-grandchildren.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book, Surprised by Grace. I am still being surprised by the riches of mercy, grace, and love of the Father. I so easily go astray. I slip into discontent, and loneliness, but that does not define me. I am a partner with the King and his kingdom.
Song of Songs 4:16, ends likes this:
“Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its choicest fruits.”Song of Songs 4:16
What an invitation for all of us. We can rejoice even in lockdown because God actually enjoys me and takes delight in what I do and who I am. We can trust the One who is at all times praying, who is always being an advocate. Truly nothing is impossible with our God.
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD: REFLECTIONS ON WEAKNESS, FAITH, AND POWER
No one likes to feel weak. Just thinking about our inadequate resources can fill us with fear and hopelessness. But Rose Marie Miller has a different perspective. For her true weakness is a gift born out of a deep sense of need, it drives us to Christ and unleashes all the redeeming energy of God’s grace in our lives and others.