If you have ever been "in love", you might just understand the longing for the "presence" of the one you love so dearly. When separation occurs - whether by choice or because of something out of your control - the longing builds. Today, with so many men and women deployed into our battlefields, families are experiencing the tremendous loss of the presence of their loved ones. There is this anticipation of return which stirs the heart and keeps the embers of love alive within, but because of the uncertainty of their safety, there is also the fear that their loved one may not return at all. What many describe as "stirrings" for the presence of their loved one is really similar to how God feels about each of us - longing to just hold us close, gently stroking our backs with the tenderness of his hand, and then encompassing us with the warmth and protection of his full presence. How long has it been since you have experienced the "stirrings" in your heart for the presence of your "first love" - God himself?
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges—stirrings of desire, longings for the heights—remind me of you, and I’m spoiled for anyone else! Your beauty, within and without, is absolute, dear lover, close companion. (Song of Solomon 7:5-6 MSG)
There are some things we can do to "stir" these feelings back to life, if we find they have "waned" a little in intensity. First and foremost, we can begin by remembering just how much God loves us and with what intensity he directs his attentive care over our lives. God's words to us: "I am spoiled for anyone else!" In other words, no one else will bring such intensity of response, not fulfillment to the heart of God other than you! It applies to each of us, as we can each personalize these words. He is "spoiled" for anyone else. If you have ever been in a relationship with another, you know that this would be the most "ideal" feelings someone could express to you. The thought of no one else being able to fill the place your love fills in their life is almost electrifying, isn't it? Now, transition your thoughts to God - your life, in his hands, electrifies him! He is magnificently touched when we are near.
Second, we need to take inventory of the things which have gotten in the way of us having this intensity of longing for him. If you were to read through this entire Song of Solomon, you would see this intensity building, complete with times of separation, partitions which seem to block them from each other, and the complexity of distracting influences all around. The things which separate only serve to build the intensity, not shut down the pursuit. The things which block them from each other, even for a little while, are not going to "stunt" their love, but cause their love to be magnified and ignited until their desire to be together causes them to get past those blockades. The distracting influences are nothing in comparison to the magnificence of their love - keeping this in mind helps them to not "settle" for anything less than the presence of each other. When we find things or people getting "in the way" of our times with Jesus, it is time to begin to use those things to heighten our awareness of the "lack of his presence" and then to drive us forward from our present position. They will not stop one whose eyes are fixed on Jesus!
Last, we consider where it is we find our passion ignited. For me, some of the most trying times have fully ignited passion afresh in my life. For others, it is times of retreat and refreshing. Each of us have different ways we connect with Jesus, but no one way is the "right" way to find this connection and to build upon this intimacy. Indeed, ANY and ALL avenues which lead us into his arms are pathways toward his grace. Passion grows when the separation occurs - after all, absence is touted as making the heart grow stronger, is it not? We might just want to "capitalize" on those times when we feel the stirrings of "absence" within our hearts - for these tiny stirrings are the very things which will fan into flame the embers of fullness of love.
We can "settle" for the absence - becoming content to simply remember the good times we experienced at the feet of Jesus. No amount of "remembering" will fan the flames of our first love, though. We have to get up from our places of slumber, points of compromise, and positions of comfort in order to come face-to-face with the one and only love of our lives which will satisfy our every longing and stoke the fires of our heart once again. Just sayin!