Two friends did everything together. The greatest happiness for each of them was to be in the other’s company. Day and night, whatever they were doing, they sought to be doing it in the companionship of the other one. Hours were spent talking, laughing, confiding, sharing, trusting one another. For each of them this rare and treasured friendship was precious beyond words and its nurture was their greatest priority. The woman held this friendship above all other relationships and was only ever fully alive, fully free, when in the company of her friend. The easy flowing freedom they found with one another, the deep and abiding companionship that bound them regardless of whatever else may be happening, was for her a constant source of joy and refuge in a rapidly changing and unstable world.
Then came a day when, feeling her friend’s eyes gazing at her, she looked up and suddenly became conscious of some deeper longing within him she had not previously perceived. Almost at the same instant she knew, for the first time, that the same intense yearning she saw in him also lived in her.
In that moment ‘friendship’ became too limited a word for the magnitude of what was now being unveiled between them. As beautiful as their friendship was, something even deeper was evolving. What was now beckoning was a complete, unhindered belonging – one to the other. She his, and he hers, an unlimited communion where the over-riding identity would not be I and he, or he and I, but We.
He was inviting her into a perfect oneness* with him beyond anything they had previously known. Surprising herself, she found she too desired this with all her being. A great sigh of relief, as of one who has stepped across the threshold of a long-sought home, escaped from her being. With a sense of total restfulness, she moved towards him so that she may lay her head down softly on his breast.
And at that moment everything took an unexpected turn. A familiar fear took hold of her. Drawing closer her gaze became fixed on the pure whiteness of his silk shirt, its exquisite fabric and its pristine condition, more immaculate and spotless than anything she had ever seen. ‘But how can I think of laying my head on such perfection?’ she asked herself. ‘What if my hair is not clean enough? What if I crease that beautiful pure white silk? That unsullied fabric is too good for me to just sink myself into. He deserves to wear such a fine garment, but I will spoil it if I touch it.’ And she hesitated and then stopped herself abruptly, holding herself back just inches from his chest. There she remained in her doubt and misgivings, while he waited, heartbroken at her reluctance.
What I have just related is a powerful prophetic dream I had very recently. It was one of those dreams that leaves its impact for many hours after waking. From past experience I knew the Lord was sharing something precious and important for which He wanted me to seek His meaning.
What can I say? As the dream’s message unfolded I was allowed to taste in just a small way the strength of His longing for a Bride who will grasp all He yearns to share with her in its fullness. This ‘belonging’ – we to Him and He to us – is something we, for the most part, simply do not get. And yet He longs for us to get it with an intensity that is staggering and almost impossible to convey here.
In John 15:15 Jesus surprises His disciples by telling them they are more than His servants, they are His friends. This was not what Jewish disciples were used to hearing from their rabbis. But Jesus wanted them to understand He was no normal rabbi and they were no normal disciples. They were proving their willingness to be His servants by doing what He was commanding. Obedience was the proof of their servanthood. But their willingness to share His Kingdom plans and purposes with Him would be the proof of something beyond servanthood. It would be proof of their friendship. His desire was for them to see themselves as more than servants – as friends.
Christ our Bridegroom King is both Friend and Beloved (Song of Songs 5.16). As Friend He shares His plans, eternal purposes and desires with us. As Beloved He elevates us to a place beyond even friendship, a place where all that He is, all that He has and all that He wills becomes as much ours as His, because this is what He has chosen. We belong to Him, but the greater mystery is that He and all He is – His Kingdom, His righteousness, His authority, His divine nature, His Oneness with the Father and the Spirit – also belong to us, along with our share in the fellowship of His sufferings.
But. We. Don’t. Get. It.
When the woman in my dream identified her beloved’s unsullied garment as his, not theirs, she was unable to step forward into the oneness he longed for.
We draw so close, then pull back with niggling doubts about being good enough, clean enough, gifted enough, while all the time He hungers for nothing more than a Bride who no longer questions her right to stand with Him.
We tell ourselves it’s not about us, it’s all about Him – then make it all about us by judging ourselves not quite up to scratch.
We tritely remind each other that we are ‘joint heirs’ and ‘partakers in Christ’, then nibble at crumbs and leave the feast on His table untouched.
This Oneness that the Bridegroom King craves for us to embrace, this mutual belonging to one another, is without limitation. We miss the point when we focus on how much we don’t deserve what He’s offering instead of how much He deserves to have His greatest desire responded to without hesitation or question.
Listen, this is important. The fullness of our healing from who we have been, where we have walked, what we have seen and experienced, lies in our ability to lay our heads down upon Him without hesitation, fear of judgment or questioning of our right to do so.
He knows it, and He is aching for us to know it.
In the midst of this unfolding revelation one riveting statement was whispered quietly like thunder into my spirit:
‘What’s Mine. Is yours.’
I don’t mind admitting I am still unravelling the implications of that simple but profound utterance and will be for a long time to come. And the implications are as overwhelming as they are astounding.
Within that statement are innumerable yes’s and immeasurable amens, but no exceptions.
And should anyone be wondering, this is not about prosperity in this present world. Jesus did not promise us temporal things that are passing away. He bestowed on us an eternal, unshakeable Kingdom (Luke 22:29).
‘What’s Yours is mine? All of it? And this is what you want us to move forward into Lord, no more questioning, no more hesitating, no more one step forward, two steps back?’
Yep, I know right?
But this is what it means to belong to our Beloved. And this is what it means for Our Beloved to belong to us. We need to start ‘getting it’. We need to start seeking to walk in the fullness of our oneness with Christ. It’s our final frontier, and our only true destination.
It is what He desires. And that’s enough for us to desire it too.
*To clarify my use of the word ‘oneness’, I am not referring to the ‘oneness’ with creation, the universe, a higher power or unspecified supreme being promoted by New Age belief systems. I am also not referring to the oneness espoused by certain Christian denominations who do not believe in the tri-une nature of the Christian God, (i.e. Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three divine personalities in One God), commonly known as the Oneness Movement or ‘Jesus Only’ doctrine.
I believe in the Trinity and I believe that the God of the Bible is One (Deut. 6:4). Unfortunately the concept of oneness, or perfect unity, has become associated with cults and heresies and many believers have become afraid of the concept as a result.
Jesus spoke of being one with His Father and prayed for His disciples to become one with each other and with Him and the Father (Jn. 10:30; 17:21). Spiritual oneness is a sound Biblical concept taught in both the Old and New Testaments. It is to this Biblical oneness between God and humanity that I am referring in this article.
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016 and beyond. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.