Quick Bite 61 – Come Away With Me (Part 1)
My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away.”
Song of Songs 2:10 NKJV
As we begin the second volume of “The Gospel According to the Bride”, let us first and foremost ensure we remain correctly positioned and postured before our Lord Jesus Christ enabling us to receive all He longs to impart. That means more than our minds, it is our hearts in view here, and more than our works it is a posture of rest with Him that is needed if we are to listen intently to the Bridegroom’s voice. One of the subtle risks of study is to be satisfied by mental ascent alone, without the transformation of the heart, yet this is exactly where our intercourse with the Word should take us, for His words cannot truly be understood by the mind unless it is sown first into a heart that is well prepared, only then will it yield lasting fruit. This was the enduring lesson from the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:1-9, Luke 8:4-8, Mark 4:1-12) where Jesus cites Isaiah saying ‘you will indeed hear but never understand, you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matt 13:14,15. Here Jesus mentions three faculties: the eye, the ear, and the heart. Though we may see with our eyes and hear with our ears it is with the heart that we understand. Still more than this, the condition of our hearts will determine how we see and how we hear.
Whilst this is true, our minds do also determine how we see and hear. I’m sure we are all familiar with those optical illusion challenges when tasked to look at an image and report what we see. There’s one, in particular, I recall: a line drawing of a woman’s face, and depending on how you look at the depiction, one may see an old unattractive woman, whilst another a beautiful young lady. The point I’m making is that how we interpret what we see is predisposed by something at work in our minds. I want to develop this idea further and suggest that our minds can be influenced, though not exclusively, in one of two ways. Firstly, our minds can be influenced by the opinions (or even the deliberate conditioning) of others. Rather than thinking for ourselves, we can easily and inadvertently adopt what others think (or impose on us) without necessarily working through the steps involved coming to that particular opinion on our own. When this happens, you could say we are looking through someone else’s eyes and not our own. Someone else’s perspective. The truth is, what other people say or think can affect the way we look at things. There is a danger here, for we must learn to look with our own eyes, and hear with our own ears, not vicariously through another.
Is it possible we can go through life without ever really seeing through our own eyes? How can we be sure if the interpretation of what we see happening around the world or in day-to-day life is our interpretation or one we have been predisposed to by the opinions of others? It’s an important point and one we should discern, because if we are to truly live the life that awaits us in Christ, then we must learn to see it through our own eyes. Thankfully, grace is at hand, for the Lord is able to open our eyes so what we see is our own unique and personal encounter with Him. Luke records for us the time after Jesus’ resurrection when he appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Although Jesus explained all that had happened concerning himself, along the road, Luke 24:16 informs us the disciples’ eyes were restrained from recognising him. That tells me, it is possible for Jesus to walk alongside, even tell us many things, yet we may still not see Him right there beside us, not as he truly is. It was not whilst on the move Jesus revealed himself to them, but later when they were sharing a meal together. Luke 24:30-31 describes what happened:
30 When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
This is an important point, resting and communing with Jesus always opens our eyes to see Him more clearly.
Secondly, in addition to how our minds can be influenced by others, it is certainly influenced by the heart. For example, if we dislike someone (in our heart) then it may influence the way we think about them and create a predisposition in our interpretation of what we see when we look at them. On the other hand, if we love someone, then it will definitely influence the way we think about them and our interpretation of what we see when we look at them. The adage “love is blind” comes to mind here. When we make this connection between the heart and the mind, we realise how our vision, or hearing for that matter, is affected by our hearts. In this instance, you could say we are seeing with our hearts. There is a direct connection between the heart and the eye because our minds are affected by our hearts. Listen to what Jesus taught:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light” Matt 6:22
The apostle Paul prays most beautifully in his letter to the Ephesians when he writes
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, – Eph 1:16-18 ESV
Did you notice how Paul prayed for the eyes of their hearts to be enlightened? This is my prayer for us also. If we want to see and hear clearly, then it is a matter of the heart. I want to lay this founding principle as we begin a new series of teaching: that whatever we explore together here, will serve no benefit if it were merely informatory, rather let us determine not for mental ascent but for understanding in our hearts. Let us calm the peripheral noise in our minds so prevalent and eager for attention and let us go a little deeper. Deeper than the outer layers of temporal thought, and into the eternal realm residing in our hearts. Yes, this is always our first step toward the Bridegroom, not an outward stretch for the ethereal spheres, with the notion our Lord is somewhere beyond reach, but an inner pursuit with full assurance of faith He resides in our heart and awaits us there. O what mystery divine, what glorious repose. This was the delight of the mystics, like Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, and others, whose life and witness left a timeless trail the earnest pilgrim might follow.
I have shared all the above to say this: understanding is rooted in the heart and not the mind, and therefore if we want to see through our own eyes then we must tend to the heart, if we want understanding we will find it within. This is what we read earlier when Jesus cited the prophet Isaiah ‘you will indeed hear but never understand, you will indeed see but never perceive.’ Why? Because the people’s hearts had grown dull. We do not need more information but transformation. To disembark the treadmill of pursuing knowledge (Daniel 12:4), and abide in the source of all wisdom and truth (John 15:1-7). Where is this source, where is Jesus? It is a profound mystery, yet true nonetheless, for He who sits at the right hand of the Father, abides in all those who have heard him knock at the door and open their hearts, for He has surely promised “I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with me” Rev 3:20
Our Bridegroom calls us to come away with Him. But the truth is before we can go away with Him, we must first discover Him within the chambers of our hearts. O how I hope you can hear His voice even now as you read these words. Wait a while, learn to linger in the silent shadows of life, He is near, and calling you to a deeper life filled with hope. One that is entirely restorative and not burdensome, compelling and not fearful, one that is romanceful, thrilling and extraordinary.