By Christi Bowman
The American church is in exile. We are looking for our lover, but He has left. He tired of waiting. He stood at the door and He knocked. Shivering cold, He knocked. We didn’t want to get dressed; we didn’t want to get our feet dirty, so He left (Song of Solomon 5).
We look for Him, but we don’t find Him. We call, but He doesn’t answer (Song of Solomon 5).
Watchmen find us. They beat us and bruise us as we look for Him (Song of Solomon 5). They take our cloak and we blame God. Why don’t you stop this? we ask. Why aren’t you protecting us? We don’t get an answer. We think He’s not listening to us. It’s worse; He’s gone.
She continues to look, and she begs other women to look with her. She describes her lover to them…she describes Jesus (Song of Solomon 4:10-16). Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John (in Revelation) describe this as well. When she is done describing Him, she knows where He is. “He is on His way to His garden. We know from Isaiah 5:7 that His garden is comprised of people. Song of Solomon 6:2-3 reminds us, “He browses among the flowers, touching the colors and forms. He caresses the sweet smelling flowers. What a beautiful word picture.
We must seek Him now, and when we seek Him with all our hearts we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). That is the job of a people in exile.
Where is He? He is in His garden, His garden of people.
The physically poor, those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, and in prison, the poor in spirit.
The beauty in all of these attributes apply to each and every one of us.
Although the American church is in exile, He is very near to us as individuals. To find Him, we must get out of the stale dark air that is inside the 4 walls of our churches. We must go. We must go into our own hometowns, to churches that meet beneath bridges, into our schools, or the local McDonald’s.
I have seen Him in those places. Some of us have heard the call to go abroad, and we must go. I know, so many people who have encountered the very real and alive God of the universe when they have gone. He is very different than the idea of God they met in church.
Our churches are filled with people looking for God in the wrong place. We have become a callous people filled with a religious spirit. We don’t look like a people of God anymore. We wound more than we heal. We take more than we give. We must go. We must go and seek. We must go and find. We must go and dance. We must dance the dance of life and live, really and truly live.
When she finds Him in His garden He tells her in Song of Solomon 6, “you are the ravishing visions of my ecstasy. Your beauty is too much for me-I’m in over my head. I’m not used to this! I can’t take it in.” This is said after she has been bruised, beaten, and had her clothes taken from her. He loves us like this. This is our hope. This is the hope of an exiled people when they seek Him and find Him in His garden.
If you liked this article, check out: The Jumbled Body of Christ
Christi has, for her entire life, “done” church. She experienced a very real encounter with GOD in October of 2007 and she will NEVER be the same. This year GOD has lovingly walked her to a place of rest and true lasting freedom from alcoholism amidst a myriad of other addictions to numerous to list. He has healed her from a very confusing, muddled, and painful past and given it meaning. Next year she, along with her husband and three kids, will be moving to Nsoko, Swaziland to be Jesus to the children of the G42 Orphan Village.