I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. (Songs 2:3)
“His shadow”, of course, is the shadow of Christ. In the midst not just of the present day but of any time in our life – but I have found it particularly so just now – there comes a longing just to be with Him. There is so much going on … and so much can be said … and we want just to hear His voice, just to come to Him. He speaks to us through many channels, and for that we thank God: through His Bible, through the spoken word. But oh, the bliss, when we turn in our spirit and we come, and we see Him. As the disciples of John said to Christ: “Master, where do You live?” and He said: “Come and see,” I think He says that to us again and again: “Just come and see. See Me, see where I am.” And His fruit becomes very sweet to our taste.
His fruit is not sweet to our taste if we are eating too much forbidden fruit, or if our lives have become very cluttered with the things of this life, even the legitimate things. But His fruit becomes very sweet when we begin to look for it; we find there is fruit both new and old laid up at our door, which He shows to us. He said that He would send His Holy Spirit, who would show to us the things that relate to Him. When we begin to seek Him, the Holy Spirit begins to minister into our spirits, and He shows to us in a way that is indescribable something of the beauty of God, the beauty of Christ, and the fruit that He alone can give.
And we think: well, what are these fruits? There is the fruit of forgiveness, which is one of the sweetest. There is the fruit of peace. There is the fruit of power over sin. There is the fruit of power over the enemy. There is the fruit of His love – and we rejoice greatly in that.
But there is another fruit which He gives, also related to that. It is the fruit of love for God, and love for Christ. And it is not one to be neglected. It is one to be sought for. The Holy Spirit begins to show us that One who is full of grace and truth. And there begins to well up in our hearts an overflow not only of gratitude, not a sense of duty to Him, but an overwhelming love for Him. It is only the Holy Spirit who can really reveal to us these aspects of Christ, the very person of Christ, causing love to begin to grow in our hearts.
If we seek for this fruit then God surely will give it to us, and it will begin to grow. It grows, as all fruits grow, in the soil of Calvary, where His love is poured out and engenders a love for Him. We see that in His followers in spite of their frailties. We see it in Mary Magdalene as she waited there in the garden in the early morning, looking, searching for the body of Christ. To her it became the garden of unveiling, and she saw the risen Saviour. Why was she there? She was there because she loved Him. She had been forgiven much: she loved much. She just loved Him, not now thinking of what He could give her but just of who He was. And so to her was given that first revelation on the Resurrection morning.
We think of those two, Adam and Eve, in an earlier garden. They had eaten a forbidden fruit – and what a miracle that in our heart there comes a love for the fruit that is of Christ Himself, and we seek for Him in our fallen condition, yet brought back to Him.
And we can see how much Christ values our love. He said: “The Father Himself has loved you, because you have loved Me.” That is still true. We see in His treatment of Peter that what mattered, I think, more to Christ than anything else was that Peter loved Him, and that Peter would acknowledge that he loved Him – acknowledge to Himself, a strong man would acknowledge this, that at the very root of his being, in spite of all appearances, what was driving him was a love for Christ, a belief in him. And when Christ said to him: “Peter, do you love Me?” the response was: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And again and again he had to say it.
And so Christ looks at you and at me for that fruit, that we will be driven by a love for Him that will cause us to endure things that we wouldn’t otherwise endure, that will cause us to remain faithful in all sorts of circumstances, but more than that, that just draws us into the very deeps of His presence, and makes us hungry for Him as for nobody else, and makes us insistent that we will find Him.
Looking down through the centuries at the martyrs we can see again and again that what was at the root of their being was a love for Christ. Some of the most famous martyrs were actually slaves, slave girls, the most lowly and despised, like Blandina in the south of France – yet she was famous; she was thrown to the wild bull because she would not deny the Christ that she loved. And when they interrupted the process to try even then to make her recant, they found that she was in an ecstasy of love and praise to God.
It is a very sweet fruit. “I sat down under His shadow” in coolness, to find rest from the heat of the day – the heat of circumstances around us or within us, and we find shelter and shadow under His tree, in Him, and His fruit becomes very sweet.
As I was meditating on these matters, two verses in my reading from Daily Light seemed so appropriate:
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:9–10)
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Some lines from Tersteegan’s poem “Satisfied” speak eloquently:
Draw me to Thee, till far within Thy rest,
In stillness of Thy peace, Thy voice I hear –
Forever quieted upon Thy breast,
So loved, so near.
By mystery of Thy touch my spirit thrilled,
O Magnet all Divine;
The hunger of my soul forever stilled,
For Thou art mine.
For me, O Lord, the world is all too small,
For I have seen Thy face,
Where Thine eternal love irradiates all
Within Thy secret place.
And therefore from all others, from all else,
Draw Thou my soul to Thee …
… Yea – Thou hast broken the enchanter’s spells,
And I am free.
Now in the haven of untroubled rest
I land at last,
The hunger, and the thirst, and weary quest
For ever past.
There, Lord, to lose, in bliss of Thine embrace
The recreant will;
There, in the radiance of Thy blessed Face,
Be hushed and still;
There, speechless at Thy piercèd Feet
See none and nought beside,
And know but this – that Thou art sweet,
That I am satisfied.
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