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Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ish - Our Bridegroom, Our Husband

This week our Name of God is Ish, which is translated more than 1600 times in the Old Testament. Of those 1600 times, there are 69 specific instances when this word is translated Husband. Our Royal Bridegroom. Our Husband. Our God.
Many Scriptures came to mind as I prepared to write this post. And as I considered the undertaking of this particular name I heard God very gently and sweetly say, "Write this one from Your heart. Tell them who I've been to you, Beloved."
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Tears sting my eyes as I sit at my kitchen table with a sense of awe is overflowing in my heart while I consider all the things I can tell you about my Royal Husband, my Bridegroom. But Scripture does it well and I want this more than anything to be a confirmation of who God says He is and how I have found that to be true, than to state anything that might be stretching or turning the truth in any form or fashion.
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A word about this "Key Scripture" from Psalm 45. That Scripture is more literally translated, "The King is enthralled (desires) with your beauty." That word translated "royal husband" in the New Living Translation is actually Melek as we studied two weeks ago, but I wanted you to picture God as Your Husband and I think that this Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of God's appreciation for you as His Bride.
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I remember the day I came to acknowledge Christ as my Bridegroom, the first day I experienced His Love washing over me in a deeply intimate form and fashion. I realized in hindsight that the Holy Spirit had come upon me in a powerful way that day, but I had no idea what that would mean until years later as I pursued the Baptism of the Holy Spirit --- to understand it as God speaks of it in Scripture, to embrace it as a benefit of my calling and to walk fully empowered by the grace and beauty of such a completely satisfying gift. Some of us may acknowledge this type of God experience in different words, but in truth it is the fullest expression and experience of God that I've ever known in my life and it brought great power to me.
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I was at a conference for Pregnancy Resource Center workers where Andy Merritt, the gentleman who pretty much founded and set the model for the PRC as it exists in America today shared the Keynote Message on Saturday, May 3, 2003. His message "So You Could Be His Bride..." Mr. Merritt thoroughly and in great, painstaking detail described a literal word picture of the agony of Christ's arrest, trial, scourging and Crucifixion - it was quite frankly the Passion of the Christ in graphic description. He would describe a snapshot of the painful torment of our Savior and conclude the picture each time with these words: And He did it so YOU could be His Bride.
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After some twenty or so snapshots that ended in "And He did it so YOU could be His Bride..." I was not only weeping, I was face down at the front of the auditorium surrendering myself as His Bride. The next thirty-six hours of my life were life changing. That night I called my father and made not waste of time getting to him to tell him all about my experience with God. My father understood exactly what I was saying as I enthusiastically shared, "Daddy, God showed me today that until I have this love...." Motioning vertically between the sky and my heart, "This love..." Motioning horizontally indicating relationships with people, "...Will never be right."
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I cried the entire drive back home that night and woke up the next morning with fresh awareness of my extreme encounter with Christ. As I bathed and dressed for church my heart, my mind and my entire being was completely centered on who Christ is and just glorying in the fact that He had chosen me.
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My poor husband walked into the room while I was in the midst of one of these glory moments and tears were flowing from my eyes as I tried to dab a mascara wand to paint the black creamy liquid on my lashes ... It was really a useless endeavor that day. I can only say now that as I looked in the mirror I felt as if I would burst and also that I was glowing from the inside out.
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My husband asked me, "Are you okay?"
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"I'm better than okay." I gushed. "Scott, the only way I can describe it is that the scales have fallen off and all I can do is see God everywhere."
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I thought perhaps I would be able to garner some control and sensible expression of my emotions during worship service that day, but no... I really couldn't. By the second song, I was in a FULL. ON. UGLY. CRY. I mean NOT. A. DROP. OF. MAKEUP. was left on my face at the end.
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Then our pastor got up and as he spoke it felt as if the floodgates of heaven poured out into our sanctuary that day. I stopped trying to prevent myself from crying and just gave into to the wonderful, joyful tears of love that were coursing down my cheeks. Our pastor spoke words that directly addressed my heart cry to God the previous few weeks. I mean nearly word for word.
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At the end of the service I went down and asked for prayer... In the midst of my sobbing, laughing request. I must have looked hysterical now that I think of it - I huffed and sputtered, "I... don't know what's happened... but it's .... like all I c-can do is... See God Everywhere. I-I'm j-just so H-HAPPY."
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The worship pastor came to me after the service and said, "I couldn't help but notice you during worship, are you okay?"
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I nodded and muttered, "I'm just happy, that's all."
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He gave me a strange look and nodded. "Okay..."
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Since that time, I have discovered over and over again... That God is my husband and when I love my own husband out of that pure love that was overflowing in my heart that day, all is right with my world.
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At Gateway Church, there is a strong emphasis on male leadership in the home and the church. They have a vision of empowering men to be the "Priest, Prophet and King" of their homes. Our church has women who pastor select areas of ministry in our church, but the eldership and governing of the church is a council of godly male ministers and businessmen - a pretty even split. I honor the role that Gateway encourages the men to take in our homes. I believe it is key to our children growing into healthy, strong spiritual adults.
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God showed me through Gateway that one of the ways my husband is the Priest of our home is that he is the covering for our home. But, it is not my job to make him live up to that role. It is my job to support and encourage him in that role. How? Prayer, and trusting God to be my ultimate covering for my children and our home when I don't see my husband owning that responsibility.
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He also showed me that I need to understand my husband's vision and goals for our family. Even if it is very limited, I need to come in line with what God is directing my husband to do and allow my husband to begin to walk in the role of Prophet in our home. Even if that means that I don't see any fruit of him being a Prophet, I will trust God to be faithful to me in the plans and direction of our family EVEN IF MY HUSBAND DOES NOT LIVE UP TO HIS END OF THE DEAL.
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And, finally - I am to treat my husband as a King, in deferrence to my Lord, not because I am to worship Him and be subject to him, but because by honoring my husband - I honor my King. He is the "Lord" of our home in the same manner that Sarah called Abraham Lord and was honored for her submission. I recently heard a precious man of God say, "Subjection is when you come under authority because you have to or are forced to... Submission is what you willingly give up to place yourself under the authority that has been placed over you."
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Because of Eve's role in the fall, women are not entrusted with the responsibility of decision making and vision casting in the family - why? We are vulnerable to deception. We should always check out visions and plans with our husband to remain in line with God's will. If the truth is told, I am grateful for that.
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Pastor Jimmy Evans says that women were given an extra layer of accountability to men because of the lead Eve took in the sin in the Garden, but on the other hand, Adam was given an extra layer of responsibility because of the lead he deferred to his wife in the sin in the Garden. He went on to teach that when men are living in rebellion it often looks like "passive indifference" while women live in rebellion by being "willfully independent." As those words passed through his lips I felt God tap me on the shoulder and say, "Listen up, this is for you." Willfully independent described my entire life!
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Recently God has really been dealing with me about how I do not trust Him. He has been stirring up areas of my life where I live making my plans, manipulating my circumstances and then asking Him to bless it. One of those areas is finances. So much so that I have made an incredible mess of our finances over the years. I am constantly and shallowly manipulating and "robbing Peter to pay Paul" so much so that I miss God's blessing every time. No area of my life has been more out of line with my royal husband and my earthly one than finances.
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In July I had a moment where I was calculating our debt and what we would need to pay all our current, past due and creditory obligations by the end of the year. The answer I came up with from the "ha, ha" calculator in my head was $30,000. I was contemplating trying to find myself a $30,000 a year job when I sensed God saying, "Wait... What are you doing? More money will not solve your problem, what you need is more faith and more responsibility. Why don't you ask me what I would have you do instead of making YOUR plans and THEN asking me to bless it?"
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I said Okay.
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I confessed the horrible stewardship of our finances and took full responsibility. I confessed that I didn't see a way for our budget to work and for us to ever get out of debt. I told God that short of Him depositing the money in our account I felt like it was hopeless so I needed Him to show me how it would work.
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A few weeks later God began to show me how the Spirit of Mammon was ruling my life and the life of our family and household. I heard a message on breaking that Spirit within a few hours of that revelation. As I made out the tithe I felt strongly led to go down and ask for prayer over the offering and to confess that I needed the Spirit of Mammon broken off of our home and life. I asked my husband to go with me, but he declined. I was crushed. I didn't sense it was my place to go without him. So, I asked him, "Do I have permission to go down without you?"
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He nodded his agreement. "If you need to..."
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In that moment I saw how my handling of our finances had dishonored my Lord and my husband. How my husband's heart had turned hard toward God in the matter and it was partly my responsibility. I was so broken. I confessed everything, and followed the example the pastor had given of asking for a spiritual harvest in place of our tithe. I asked for one hundred faithful generations of good stewards. I will never know how that turns out this side of the veil, but I know this - My God is faithful, My husband provides - and He honors a heart that repents and comes before Him broken and seeking His will and I believe it is His will that the next hundred generations and more will be faithful stewards to His Kingdom.
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What followed was strange by explanation at best. Suddenly, I lost all desire to shop. What I would willingly spend $5.00 on weeks before had become an outrageously extravagant expense. I just refused to give into that kind of wasteful spending. At the same time, the regular overtime my husband had been getting at work that was just making our lives barely comfortable disappeared. Not that his role or status at work changed - just the on call work that he had been doing regularly this summer had come to a "natural" halt. In other words, there were no damaged or cut cables to repair.
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I was worried, but I kept telling myself God is faithful even when I am not. I just kept holding on and praying in faith believing we would have what we asked for. Then Hurricane Ike reared his ugly head. "An Act of God?" Not an act of judgment, but a natural phenomenon that wrought havoc and destruction... On Thursday before Hurricane Ike made landfall my husband's supervisor called and asked him if he wanted to volunteer for the hurricane? My husband said, "Not during the hurricane, but I will go down after and help clean things up."
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I really didn't think Ike would come on as strong as it did. I believed it would be like Rita had been a few years back when my husband went down and helped out for a couple of weeks of decent overtime. Then when Monday passed and we got no call, I thought he had been passed over. Oh ye of little faith.
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On Tuesday afternoon my husband called and said, "We're leaving in the morning." Then I started with, "Oh great, now we have to support two households while he is away..." and he was stressing while he was packing. It was nuts. He left that next morning and called me that evening. "Early reports are that it could be six months or more of work."
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He is working 12 and 13 hour days right now. Yesterday, I began to calculate his next paycheck based on the hours he is working and it actually is more than three times what he normally makes in a two week period. We could literally pay all our monthly expenses out of one check.
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The net of the check is more than 10% of what I asked God for this summer to pay our debts. If my husband is out of town for 24 weeks like some are projecting... that will be 12 paychecks of similar standing. Think about that for a minute. I declared our need at approximately $30,000 and if this check is more than 10%... Do the math...
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A King provides for, protects and acts in the best interest of his subjects. A father provides for, protects and acts in the best interest of his family. But, a Husband is one with His wife, He shares everything with her and promises everything to her on their wedding day. Christ is our royal husband - in Jewish tradition, at the wedding feast (maybe the betrothal feast) the bridegroom pours a cup of wine and drinks from it extending it to his bride and if she drinks it means she accepts his offer of marriage. They become one by that act. We become one with our Bridegroom when we accept His cup of sacrifice - the communal cup of the blood. He calls us His own, He sacrificed all to attain us. He loves us with an unfailing, unending love. He provides only the best for us and we don't have to worry that some day He will put us out by divorce. And the best part... When we fail Him, He pursues us. How beautiful is that?
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As I read through Song of Songs recently I realized something about this relationship to Christ as our groom. Now this is a pencil sketch kind of realization, not a firm doctrine... But, I think it bears witness with truth. We are promised the role of co-heir with Christ as we have been adopted by spiritual covenant and blood atonement into the family of God at salvation. Yet, we would indeed be considered "second" sons and not equal to Christ. I realize God's economy is different, but here is the thing - in our economy now a woman is the primary and sole heir to her husband's estate unless they elect to otherwise surrender that right as a couple. God says that when we are united in marriage - the two become one flesh. When we are united with Christ through Salvation - the two become one Spirit. Here is how I see that inheritance - the way we are eligible for the full portion - the double portion as a first born heir - is through the marriage covenant of the Lamb. It was His plan to unite us to draw parallels with our everyday lives and prove to us how He provides, how He loves and what His true intentions are by sharing with us the ordinary in extraordinary ways.
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He is our Husband. The term husband comes from the word, Husbandry. That word is literally, "caretaker" it is a caretaker in the sense that His role is to place us in and to sustain an environment where we will grow into and reach our full potential that He created us for. Live in His will for You as His Bride. Embrace the marriage covenant and know that He pursues you, He loves you and He is enthralled with your beauty.
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This week, I am not going to post a Chapter of Scripture for reading. I am going to give you an assignment: Read all of the Book of Hosea and then all of the book of Song of Songs. Personalize those Scriptures and find out what God has to say to you about being His Bride. These are treasures you will never forget!
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Love You all Much. Many blessings.

5 comments:

luvmy4sons said...

Wow! What a testiomny. I have experienced the glory of the Lord and His love rushing in like you spoke of where it seems the scales had fallen away...there have been a few occasions in my life and it was always just after or during a trial! God as my husband. What an awesome thought! Golry of glories.

Melissa Terry said...

Thank you for your encouragement today! Bless you and all the Lord puts your hands to...

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

I had only read about 6 paragraphs of this when I scrolled down to see how many minutes I should tell the kiddo's I would be - before tucking them in for the night!

Whoooh!

I hope it's okay. I've cut and pasted this into MSWord - (9 [nine!] pages) and will be reading this in bed whilst I await DH (late meeting!) What a blessing to see such an awesome, in-depth, concentrated study! I've been blessed and I'm only on Paragraph 6

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

oops forgot:
btw... I voted for you at Divine Caroline! Very cool. Yesterday a friend nominated my blog. I laughed. I laughed more.

Then DH laughed. I stopped laughing. I bet him that I could get 20 votes by the time the contest was over in November. Is it selfish to ask for votes!?

....ok. gotta get back to this thing about men being the Priest, Prophet and King. Mine King laughed at me. :-(

Karen said...

Thanks for this post. There were some things you said here that really spoke to me in a current situation I and my family are working with.

Sincerely,
Karen