Lover Of My Soul

When we talk about the Lord, we should communicate more than reciting doctrines about Him. Christianity is more than religion, it's a personal relationship with God. If I was to talk about my wife, as a list of facts I've learned, you would seriously wonder about the depth of our relationship. Why? Because relationships are much more than lists of facts. A relationship is nonexistent where there are only facts. I propose to you: If your knowledge of God consists of information you've gleaned from studying, it's a religion of the letter, not of the Spirit. A religion of book learning, not of actual relationship with God.

  Those who have a living relationship with God, will naturally seek to learn more about Him. They'll desire to get closer to Him, learn what He's like. Paul shows this is normal:

  10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;    
Colossians 1:10
  We'll definitely seek to increase our knowledge of God, if we have a true relationship with Him. Our relationship won't, however, be like studying for a mid-term exam!

  We find in an old hymn the wonderful words, "lover of my soul". The following hymn was written by John Wesley and is entitled, "Jesus, Lover Of My Soul". It goes:

Jesus, Lover Of My Soul
Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee,
Leave, O leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me:
All my trust on Thee is stayed, All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head, With the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, More than all in Thee I find,
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick and lead the blind:
Just and holy is Thy name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am, Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to cover all my sin,
Let the healing streams abound, Make and keep me pure within:
Thou of life the fountain art, Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart, Rise to all eternity.

  The words of John Wesley express a deep relationship with the Lord. Such words couldn't have been written by a man, if he didn't know God in a personal way. This kind of speech comes from a love relationship.

  Look more closely at the different verses.

  The first verse starts out with that term "lover". This first stroke of his verbal brush sets the stage for an intimate relationship. Not just one of rote doctrine. The verse continues expounding John's confidence in how he could experience the warmth and strength he needed. Book learning doesn't tend to sustain a person in the great trials of life.

  The second verse leads us into John's position of utter surrender in looking to this lover as his only help and sustenance. In my books, this second verse is sheer poetry that beats Romeo and Juliet any day.

  The third verse leads us into true worship, true adoration. It even has the taste of Shakespeare's . . . "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." It adoringly recalls His acts of love, then looks straight at Him. It lifts Him up, while remembering our own worthlessness.

  In the final verse, we see John's approach to this lover is not without due regard to His proper reverence. God is close to us, but there's not an over-familiarity. In one modern song you find this over-familiarity which calls God the Father, simply, daddy.

  This wonderful, truly reverent, close relationship, flourishes in purity and flows into that which is truly living. He appropriately brings his verses to a close with the partaking of the living water. The offer Jesus wanted the woman at the well to partake of. The words found in this hymn echo the words found in a psalm:

Psalm 116
  1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: 11 I said in my haste, All men are liars. 12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

  The psalmist pulls out many of the things we find in John Wesley's hymn. This relationship with God is the common experience of those who love God in truth. Those who know God as He wants us to know Him, not just as doctrine:

  11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.    
Hebrews 8:11
  The writer of Hebrews pointed this out. A true relationship with God isn't just book learning.
  Looking back to the 116th Psalm, we see the same pattern, as Wesley's hymn, of looking to this lover in our need, verses 1-4.

  From verse 5 we see the characteristics, much like John pointed out, of God's righteousness, grace and mercy. The characteristics swirl in the blend of this wonderful relationship with God. He's holy, and this we can easily appreciate. Without mercy and grace, though, we're already condemned trash with no hope. We're able to have a restored loving relationship, because of this extension to bring us back to Him. This manifests His going out of His way to have us as His, when we certainly don't merit such an act of love.

  Verses 6-9 remind us of God's taking action on our part, because of His love for us.

  Verse 11 is worded rather unusually. In the Geneva Bible there's this paraphrase: "In my great distress I thought God would not regard man, who is but lies and vanity, yet I overcame this temptation and felt the contrary."  I think this is a pretty good explanation.

  The following verses take us through a joyous situation that describes a family get-together. The family of God, that is, with true fellowship centering around worship of God.

  Ask yourself, "Am I conscience, within myself, of a deep relationship with God?" You can answer that kind of question, with ease, about any person. If you have it with God, you should be able to answer it just as clearly and unshakably. If you can't, this is a serious condition needing to be remedied immediately! Your eternity depends on the answer!

  Stop and think, if someone wants to talk with you about God, is it a burden to know what to say about Him? If we're in love with Him, we should naturally flow in talk about Him. He should be such a rejoicing to our soul, that we eagerly want to talk about Him.

  When I was at Prairie Bible Institute, the thing that stuck most powerfully in my memory was the attitude of my fellow students. There were many different personalities and levels of spiritual maturity, yet, for most, there was fire for God. These people spontaneously talked about God in every pondering of life. They were on fire for Him. They would naturally think out loud about His glory with me. Others might ponder the great burden of the world, who was ignorant of Him. Still others just bubbled over with His love. They looked compassionately at others to see how they could minister Jesus to them. This is a normal state for those who really love God. Are you in this normal state? Be honest, if you aren't, there's sickness present.

  This makes me think of the prophet Elijah. From Elijah's observations, there was no one who really loved God anymore. God told Elijah however, there were still some who really did serve him. They were a small percentage of Israel's whole population, so from man's viewpoint, Elijah thought he was one of a kind:

  2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias (Elijah)? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.    
                Romans 11:2-5

  Those who are really in love with God may be scarce. This rarity may cause some to wonder if the normal, healthy relationship isn't abnormal. They might conclude this is too much to be expected. If your relationship is a good, healthy one, you'll not truly wonder about this, for the spirit of life flowing in you clearly testifies. Elijah didn't wonder if his relationship was over-doing it, his grief was caused by the coldness of everyone else. The person who wonders, is the one showing the signs of ill-health. He's the one who gives evidence of book-learning religion.

  There are those brought up in a "Christian" home. They went to church and were nurtured in a moral fashion. They respect the idea of going to church and leading a moral life. Because of this, they unsafely assume they have a real relationship with God.

  Familiarity with an environment doesn't mean didly in a relationship. Either we're in love with God and know Him vibrantly, or we don't. He wants to have that vibrant relationship with us and will have it, if we truly seek Him (Rev. 3:20). The problem is found in the old-self not wanting to sacrifice certain things. We may want to know God and be zealous in some way, but if we've hardened our hearts toward something of His nature, we'll be deceiving ourselves.

  Suppose we loath someone's moral stand, refusing to accept it. If they're right, and what they say is God's way, we actually loath something that's of God's very nature. We may eagerly go to church, have a WWJD bracelet hanging from our rear-view mirror, a Christian fish on the back of our car and talk about God a lot. Unknown to us, we're deceiving ourselves! Our religion's a hobby, as it were, creating a God of our imagination, instead of the true God described in the Bible. We may think, "I'm zealous for God, so the relationship I have with Him must be real." If our hearts hardened in this manner, we deceive ourselves. We have already refused Him in an area we secretly cherish and won't give up. This is where "not truly seeking Him" slips in unnoticed (Romans 10:2,3). It cuts off any further truthful seeking. If our own natures, our own walks aren't broken, this deception will keep us from ever truly coming to Him. We must be zealous to examine our own hearts clearly by His Word (John 4:23,24).

  Is there a vibrant joy in our relationship with God? There should be this form of romance with Him. It's always overflowing with joy and peace. Just as there should be this continual romance in a healthy marriage, so there will be one with God. Look at the Psalms that testify to this:

  I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.        
Psalm 9:1b-2

  11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.                                   
Psalm 16:11
  15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.                    
Psalm 17:15 (Psalm 111:1-10)
  This is just a small sampling out of the Psalms. They demonstrate a rich, fulfilling relationship with God. This certainly isn't a dry book relationship! Any true, living relationship with God will always issue in richness. If, in our marriages, this richness was once there, but is gone, we know we need to do something to restore the relationship. If we don't, eventually the marriage will end up on the rocks. The same holds true with God.

  Think about it, what could we do to rekindle the fires in our marriages? We might spend time thinking about the other person. Think about things like how we can enrich their lives and make them feel loved? How we can show interest in them? Stop thinking just about ourselves and our interests. Determine to keep our commitments to help nurture our spouse, to be faithful. Determine to build our life around the fellowship of our spouses, instead of considering them as some necessary obligation. These are just some ideas that would revolutionize the dry and dead marriage. These same principals go into our relationship with God.

  King David made these parting words to his son about his future relationship with God:

  9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.    
1 Chronicles 28:9

  If we want real fire in our relationship with God, what could be plainer than that?

  Do we have this rich fellowship? If we don't, there's still some dishonesty, there's still something we haven't released before God. We have another love that's truly greater than our love of God. Believe me, there's nothing on this earth worth holding so ferociously that it's worth sacrificing a clear spirit. This may be something so small as having a "time to ourselves". We may do all kinds of work for God and things we feel we should do, but what about the time that's ours when all the duties are done? Is that exclusively ours? I'm not necessarily speaking of using our time for anything evil. I'm speaking of it being "ours". We either fully give ourselves to God, or we're our own Lords of some portion of our lives. This principal is great, don't miss it. We're either fully surrendered or we aren't.

  When we break before God, there's nothing in this world that can compare with what awaits us. The things of this world don't hold a match to a close relationship with God. Paul made this comparison:

  8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.    
Philippians 3:8-15
  Paul sacrificed prestige, power in Israel, safety, comfort and respect (2 Corinthians 4:8-18). Paul attained more than most Jews of his day could ever possibly dream of. After having lost it, he considered it as cesspool material. Paul, after having looked back, was excited about progressing in the same road he had chosen.

  Take note: If you read the story of Paul's conversion carefully, you'll see the new road wasn't one he had really chosen. God chose him. Paul, right after his conversion, started mightily using the very scriptures he was already familiar with to prove the truth of Christ. He knew these verses before he came to God. Knowledge doesn't hack it. A personal encounter with God is the only way to be struck down and finally break with God. From then on, it's no longer mere book learning.

  If we don't have this relationship, you might rightly ask, "How do I get it?" I remember a friend of mine, when I was about 11 years old, said, "You know, if you and I were to die today, we would both go to hell." This concerned me greatly. I asked, "How do you know that?" He answered that we have to be born-again to go to heaven. I didn't understand what it meant to be born-again, but I sure wanted to know after I found the threat of hell loomed so closely! The passage my friend was referring to is:

  3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.    
John 3:3-8

  I started reading my Bible from the start in Genesis 1:1 through to the end. I had to know the answer. I wondered if I had to do sacrifices, like the law was telling about. Some of the stuff seemed pretty tough to carry out. I was told that Jesus became the sacrifice, so the sacrificial system came to an end. There was a lot I didn't understand. Growth came slowly, while I tried to fit the pieces together. I became born-again, not through a clear understanding, but through God's grace. Jesus also gave this promise:

  6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
     Matthew 5:6
  I didn't know what it meant to be born-again, but I wanted God. He met me the rest of the way. If we truly want Him, He will hear our cry. He will fill us with His righteousness and give us that special event of the spirit, a new birth, even though we may not comprehend the meaning of such a term. After all, Jesus said the spirit birth is that born of the spirit, which is separate from the flesh. If we could figure it out by our flesh, intellectually, it would not be the spirit birth:

  14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.   
1 Corinthians 2:14

  We can't truly understand this event until we've come to God through hunger and thirst. When we call upon Him for His mercy, the new-birthing is done by God, not us. After the event, we'll understand the term, "born-again".

  I've briefly answered the first half of the question of "How do I get it?" for someone who has never tasted of the Lord. For those who have tasted but "the honeymoon is over", the call is afresh to repentance. Believe me, the fault in the stale relationship doesn't fall with God. Jesus also gave an alter call for this:

  15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.    
Revelation 3:15-20
  These words were specifically issued to the cold Christians in the church in Laodicea. Jesus said He's knocking at the door of our hearts. He wants back in, open that door through repentance and He will come back in.

  The "honeymoon" shouldn't come to an end with God. Just as the expression, relating to a human marriage, indicates the end of a sweet, blissful state, such is a bad sign. Self-seeking has replaced a real love, and so the honeymoon's over.

  In full determination of heart, follow David's advice to his son Solomon, diligently and honestly seek God. Be able to sing with John Wesley the lines to his famous hymn.

For further messages on this subject, please see "I Beg of You!", "Wake Up For God", "Basement Christian" and "Revival" in tract form or at the library.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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