For the past four days I have been writing a letter each day to my dear wife. The letters are based on a chapter from The Song of Solomon (SOS). There are eight chapters in SOS and therefore I plan eight letters. However, I am enjoying the exercise so much that I may not stop. What if I wrote her everyday for the rest of our lives?
What are some of my observations at the half-way point of my letter writing?
1. I am learning more of my need for Christ.
As I read each chapter I am convicted by how far short I have fallen as a husband. I can't live up to what is written in SOS. Does that mean that I should not try? Of course not. I am not only reminded of my need, I am reminded that Christ has supplied all that I need. He is the perfect lover of the bride. My hope is in him. That motivates me to pursue excellence in loving my wife even though I am falling short. Some days I feel like a total hypocrite. But I can't and don't want to stop writing. I am compelled to ask Lori to forgive me and to be patient with me. I am motivated by the grace of God to be a faithful, creative and romantic husband.
2. I am learning what Lori really needs from me.
The lady often speaks (more than the man I think) in SOS. She says, As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3).
The imagery is powerful. Solomon provided security and sweetness to the lady. She was delighted to sit beneath his shadow of protection and enjoy his fruit. He was strong. He was sweet. Shazam! What a fresh and creative way to describe the role of the husband. He is to provide safety and sweetness to the marriage.
The purpose of marriage is to display the gospel (Ephesians 5). That is why we should spill a lot of thoughtful ink on the subject. In the gospel we see God as our protector from his wrath. He protects by providing the shade of his Son that we might rest. To the Christian Jesus is beautiful. The Psalmist desired to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4). He had a single-minded focus. He wanted God's presence, God's beauty and God's voice (4). The husband brings the protection of the gospel and displays the sweetness of Jesus as he nourishes and cherishes his wife (Ephesians 5:29). Most wives will appreciate the strength and protection of a gospel-minded husband that cherishes her. She loves strength and she loves sweetness. Are you strong and are you sweet? The gospel will transform you!
3. I am learning that discipline and delight are friends.
Sometimes discipline is viewed as an enemy of delight. It is just the opposite. Purposeful discipline is wedded to delight. Yes, it is possible to write a letter a day for eight days and do so in a burdensome sort of way. What I am finding is that the discipline has helped to cultivate delight in my heart. Writing the letter is a top priority each morning. After I read the Bible and selections in the several books that I am working through, I then write (type) a letter to Lori. It really is delightful. Today I received encouragement. My letter was a bit late. I discovered that Lori was wondering when it would arrive. She was expecting my letter. That encouraged me. Funny thing, unbeknown to me, when I clicked print on my computer she was actually at the printer. As the letter came out she said, "I was wondering when the letter was coming."
Dr. Donald Whitney writes in his book, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life, Discipline without direction is drudgery. What is the aim of my letters to Lori? My desire is to nourish and cherish her, with the goal of displaying the love of Christ to her, so that God might be glorified in our marriage. My aim is to love the Lord and love my wife in a gospel displaying way. This is my delightful duty. The discipline frees the wings of delight.
Consider taking the Song of Solomon Letter writing challenge. More to come.