I am my beloved's and He is mine

 

I am ecstatic to be linking up with the lovely and talented Addie Zierman’s synchroblog today. It is taking place in celebration of her book, When We Were on Fire, which releases today.

 

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy. And since I finished it, I have not stopped recommending this book to everyone I meet.

 

The book is her story of growing up in the evangelical youth subculture, but it is so much more than that. It has the gripping "I can't put it down" power of a novel, mixed with the thought-provoking "I can't get that idea out of my head" power of nonfiction. Through inviting you into her story, she opens you to processing your own. And she does so with honesty, sincerity, critique, and hope. Her words may help all of us unravel and make sense of what it looks like to walk in a life of faith.

 

Seriously. Read this book. You won't regret it. You can get it on Amazon here. (This isn't an affiliate link. I'm not making any money by promoting this to you. I just want you to be able to share in the goodness of this book.)

 

Today I am linking up with a story about one of my own experiences in a cliché Christian environment. And, I hope you aren’t feeling too cynical today, because, in this case, my experience was a positive one.

 


 

Retreats are a staple in Christian-subculture.

 

I went on my first retreat {gasp} fifteen years ago, when I was in college. I had gone to one of the campus Christian groups several times, and everyone said I MUST go on the fall retreat. Time away from campus seemed like a good idea to me, so I signed up. I even volunteered to be one of the drivers.

 

Autumn was the perfect time of year to go to a retreat center in central Wisconsin. Changing leaves. Crisp air. Piercing blue skies.

 

There was horseback riding and cafeteria-style meals and bonfires and games and laughter.

 

And there was also talks. And worship. And space to go be with God.

 

These kinds of activities were not completely foreign to me. I had been dabbling in them for the previous year. But still, they were relatively novel.

 

On this retreat, we were encouraged to have a “quiet time.” (That was the lingo for bring your Bible and a journal to a quiet place and pray.) For many others on the retreat, who had been following God for longer, the act may have felt cliché and dry.

 

For me, the idea of a quiet time was fresh. I had never really thought God would or could interact with me personally. I believed in Him. I went to church. But my thoughts were more based in tradition than faith, and my experiences were more corporate than personal.

 

I don’t know if it was the speaker, the weather, or the peer pressure, but I grabbed my Bible and headed for the woods. I sat under a tree and wondered if God would meet me there. Didn’t it seem ridiculous to expect such a thing?

 

Not knowing any better, I went for the “drop and flop” method. I asked God to lead me to a passage that would show me He cared about me in that moment. Then, I cracked my Bible and let it fall open to a random page.

 

Now that I am older and “more experienced” in my faith, I have better methodology to my study. I know better. But God’s grace met me under that tree as the Bible flipped to Song of Songs 2.

 

I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. –Song of Songs 3:4

 My beloved is mine and I am his; -Song of Songs 2:16

 

I had never before considered that I might be God’s beloved.

 

I realize now how much I didn’t understand about the context I was reading, but in that moment, all I knew was that God spoke to me, and I was his beloved.

 

I ran into the hall, skipping and laughing like a girl newly in love. Because I was.

 

And later on, when we sang the classic “His Banner Over Me,” I was swept up in the emotions of it all. And I was filled with gratefulness.

 

That retreat was crammed with Christian clichés, bad methodology, and thin theology, but God’s grace was circled around all of it. He found me under that tree and told me I was his beloved.

 

(If somehow, you've never heard the 90's Vineyard song, "His Banner Over Me," I found it on YouTube here.)

 

my beloved