Draw me, and we will run after thee.” – Song of Songs 1:4
Today while I’m striving to keep my mind where it belongs, and my inner and outer self in line with His will, it really helps to remember this:
God initiates; we respond. That’s how it all started, and that’s what will finish it. He began our relationship, and the fact I even care about His will and ways is proof He’s still at work in me.
In the end, it will also be He who completes it. By the time Christ comes for me or I die, the Artist will have put the finishing touches on His work, a conclusion the work itself can hardly take credit for.
So I often find myself these days praying for more of what little is already there. More faith, more zeal, more boldness, and (relevant as ever!) more hatred for what He hates and more passion for what He loves.
Which reminds me that whatever I do by way of worship, service, or obedience, is done only because He first gave me the desire, then the ability, then the opportunity. What He initiates, He completes. Paul summed it up nicely:
For it is God who worketh in you, both to will, and to do of His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
So this business of sanctification and growth is no 50/50 contract between two equal parties. Rather, it’s a loving union in which the Creator fashions then draws His created ones to Himself, and for His purposes. The creation is, of course, able to resist, refuse, or rebel, and it often does. But when it works, it works not because we wisely come up with the plan of following Him, but because He draws us, and then, by His grace, we decide to run after Him.
This is already shaping up to be a good year for my family, my work, and me. I’ve got a beautiful new dog, my sons are both thriving in their work and continuing to impress the heck out of me in countless ways, and some wonderful new projects are in development in my ministry and my wife’s as well. That’s always inspiring to me – new possibilities; milestones crossed, etc. We’re trying to ride that momentum and determine to finish this year up better, cleaner, godlier.
But I’m also already a little tired. I’ve already let some commitments slip, and lowered standards I promised myself I’d keep intact, and my prayers are noticeably a little, uh, desperate: Please give me more time! More strength! More focus !
I’m reminded, more than ever, that not only are good intentions birthed in me by Him, but they’re sustained by Him as well. Right now I am finding a lot of peace in that simple, powerful thought: I am on His schedule and He’s not stressing out. So why should I?
He first worked in me by implanting a desire to do His good pleasure; now I need Him to empower me to do it as well. Every standard He raises – that is, every time I’m inspired to raise my sights, try something new, improve my patterns – it becomes a reminder of my dependence on Him, and the stark, practical observation He made in saying “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Reading that verse, I’m reminded how easily I can default back to old patterns, no matter how committed I am to new ones. Spiritual sluggishness can become business as usual very quickly, paving the quick and slippery slope to reduced watchfulness, cynicism, and indifference both towards my personal holiness and God Himself.
So now, more than ever, I think I get what the Shulamite meant when she said “Draw me, and we will run after thee.” I’m likewise making a point to ask daily for Him to draw me by giving me increased faith, greater wisdom, and hotter zeal, none of which I can generate on my own; all of which I need nonetheless.
So what else can I do but plead, like a desperate man once pled, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) In fact, while I’m asking, I’ll also add:
Draw me; inspire me; empower me. Because You’ve placed on my heart a desire for holiness and fruitfulness, which I thank You for. But don’t leave me with the desire apart from the power. I’ll step out of the boat, You make the water solid, and together, me in You, we’ll see Your purposes accomplished in, and through, this limited vessel. And when that happens, we’ll both know who gets the props.