I have had this battle with the storm clouds in my mind since adolescence. This fight with depression is one I take day by day, one clenched fist punch at a time. Days go by and I’m living and breathing in joy. I’m connected to my Lover Christ and the situations that usually trigger despondency and weeping, pass by me unnoticed.
But then other days, the littlest things set me off. Bickering brothers, lateness from dawdling dreamer son, my own forgetfulness, days when nothing goes right. The tears fall heavy.
Why can’t I always live in heightened joy? Why don’t I always feel that intimacy of connection with my Husband, my Maker, my Savior?
The idea of Christ as Lover is distasteful to some. Yet the image of God’s people as his bride is found throughout scripture. Imagery of the connection and unity, the oneness that is experienced between husband and wife is used to explain our oneness with God. The joy of connection a couple experiences as being one flesh gives us a foretaste of the spiritual joy and connection we will experience fully with God in heaven. The book of the Song of Solomon has traditionally been understood to be about our relationship with Christ (it is understood this way also in the Westminster Standards). Other uses of the marriage imagery are also found in the Old Testament. For example, God refers to the Israelites as prostitutes when they bowed down to other gods. In addition, Hosea’s very own marriage was a living example of the way Israel had become an adulteress.
In the New Testament, the union between husband and wife is likened to that of the unity between the church and Christ. Paul refers to this unity as a mystery. (Ephesians 5) We are promised a great feast when our Husband returns. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:7) This wedding will be a consummation of the promises made earlier in scripture: “For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit.” (Is. 54:5,6).
Ann Voskamp says that “God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us.” And “I give Him thanks and I bless God and we meet and couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin.”
My soul resonates with that longing for spiritual union. I was made to be in communion with God and when I’m not, I feel lost, incomplete. When I do feel that connection, I experience true joy. I want to swim in that joy, soak it up in my skin, have it ooze from my pores.
But most days, it seems like there is a wall blocking my way, keeping me from that connection.
In psychotherapist mode, I evaluate my thoughts, searching for the trigger to feelings of depression and hopelessness. I scrutinize for signs of negative thinking. I pray, I search the word for an indication to reveal to me how to get past the wall, to the connection I am seeking. Then the Spirit whispers to me, reminding me, “when was the last time you ate of my grace? When you hunger for intimacy with me, it’s because you have not eaten.”
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.” Psalm 42: 1-4
I have forgotten to eat at the table of grace. To fill my mind with thoughts of God’s unending love and mercy for me. My gratitude list.
Dwelling on God’s grace needs to be daily food for me, not something I gorge on once or twice a week and expect my soul to find nourishment for each day. I need to stay connected to the vine, giving thanks in all things, covering His feet with tears of gratitude no matter the expense. It’s the praise and thanksgiving that I pour on my Love that opens the door to spiritual intimacy.
“O God, you are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen you in the sanctuary, to see your power and glory. Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:1-3
We live in a land that is dry, spiritually dead. We need to drink from the Living Water to fill that soul thirst. As we seek Him in thanksgiving for the countless graces we have been given, our tongues will lap up the Water our souls long for.