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A Sacred Romance

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Mary's heart began to thump and her hands to shake a little in her delight and excitement. What was this under her hands which was square and made of iron and which her finger found a hole in?

It was the lock of the door which had been closed ten years and she put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key and found it fitted the keyhole. She put the key in and turned it. It took two hands to do it, but it did turn.

And then she took a long breath and looked behind her up the long walk to see if anyone was coming. No one was. No one ever did come, it seemed, and she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly — slowly.

Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight.

She was standing inside the secret garden.

It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden

There's something quite delicious about discovering a secret place.

My uncle once discovered a hidden little cove on one of his many Huckleberry Finn adventures along the riverbanks of the Allegheny. This sweet, secluded pocket of still, clear water was where he would bring my sis' and I to swim—while the river itself raced past just feet away. It was our secret place and we, like Mary in her secret garden, felt such incredible awe, wonder and delight when there.

When visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Morelia, Mexico last February, I discovered another wonderful little secret. Hidden behind the barred gates and stucco exteriors of the houses built one-right-next-to-the-other were…

Private gardens. Walled-in spaces for the homeowners alone to enjoy. Some were decorated with pavers and fountains, others with grassy areas to lounge in. Each one hidden away from the stares of the people on the street.

Perhaps that's what Solomon envisioned when he wrote the following love letter to his new bride…

You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride.

You are my private garden…scented with the very choicest perfumes! An orchard of pomegranates with all kinds of luscious fruit… A secluded spring, a hidden fountain, a well of fresh water…

Song of Songs 4:9, 12

Ahh…young love. There's nothing quite like it. Every rendezvous is like a secreting away.

Unfortunately, as time passes, so often does the awe, wonder and delight that accompanies those newly married years.

I know. As a bride myself, of nearly 37 years now, my garden has a tendency to fall into a state similar to what Mary found in the secret garden…

The high walls which shut in the garden were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses, which were so thick that they were matted together. All the ground was covered with a grass of wintery brown, and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rose bushes if they were alive. There were neither leaves nor roses on them now, and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive…

"How still it is!" she whispered.

"No wonder it is still; I am the first person who has spoken in here for ten years."

Like gardens, marriages need tending to. If we aren't proactive, it won't take long for them to fall into disrepair.

I came across a troubling statistic as I was pondering this. According to quora.com, forty percent of all marriages end in divorce within eight short years. Just eight short years…before the well of fresh water runs dry and all the garden beds die.

This is sobering. And convicting.

But, reading Solomon's words is convicting on yet another level.

If Solomon's words do indeed have a dual meaning, as most biblical scholars contend, then my heart is a secret garden where God comes calling for me.

Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.

Song of Songs 2:13

Mary's heart pounded at the thought of entering in to her secret place. Does my heart share her excitement, wonder and delight? Do I look for as many opportunities as I can find to secret away with my Savior?

Is the garden of my heart exclusively his? Is it a private space where I can rendezvous with him and him alone?

And what of the state of my heart? Is it an inviting place, a place where love permeates every nook and cranny? Where the Savior feels welcomed? Where he has been anticipated? A prepared place filled with pomegranates and a well full of fresh water?

There's something quite delicious about discovering a secret place.

May the garden of our hearts be just that—both in our marriages and in our love relationship with God.

Man's deepest need is to experience the oneness of authentic love in a dependable relationship. We are not to be a garden enclosed locking love out, but a private protected garden for royal use into which we invite our beloved to enter.

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Flirting with Temptation
Wave Battered and Faith-Filled Naomi
 

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  • Julie

    Julie

    I’m turning 62 this year. I can hardly believe it myself. But, I’ve decided that I no longer want to live comfortably. I want to live with a spirit of adventure like I had in the past. To be unafraid of what’s new or different. I want to remain so open to the Spirit of the living God that his love compels me to go wherever he leads me.
  • LuAnn

    LuAnn

    I am passionate about people leaning into all that Jesus is. You. Me. Us. Journeying together with God. This is my greatest blessing. And now that my kiddos are out on their own, I’m learning to navigate my new normal. And I am finding there is life after little ones and teens after all!
  • Emilie

    Emilie

    I am currently finishing my degree in relational communications and plan to graduate in the spring of 2020!! I am thankful I have had time to grow, heal, appreciate a slower pace of living, and to invest more time into relationships with family, friends, and God. Through this process I am learning what I want to prioritize in my life and figuring out ways to make that happen. Most of all, I am figuring out that life is all about process, taking steps closer to where I want to be and celebrating the little victories but also accepting that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way.
  • Sally

    Sally

    Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.
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