I remember, to this day, those first few weeks when I went off to college, especially the evenings when my roommate or I would turn off the lights and try to get my mind to switch off. Cindy had one more year of high school, so this was the first time we had been apart in three years, and to say I missed her doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling. Sure, I called her as often as I thought her parents would tolerate, but it wasn’t the same as seeing her or touching her. I drove home to see her every few weeks, but when it was time to say goodbye, all I could think about was that soon I would once again be lying in my bed at night thinking and then dreaming of her. I tried to remember every detail, her voice, her hair, her touch, and foolishly thinking that if I didn’t keep rolling it over and over in my mind that somehow I would lose the memories and then somehow, I would lose her.
Solomon, disguised as a simple shepherd, courted the dark and beautiful woman of the vineyard, but soon it was time for him to return to Jerusalem, to the court of the king, to his court where he ruled a nation. It was not just any nation, but Israel, the nation of God’s chosen people. So he said goodbye and promised to return for her. She must have asked her beloved and then silently asked herself after he was gone, a hundred times or more, why must he go…where is he going…and when will he return? So it is not surprising that when she laid her head down to sleep, all her thoughts were about finding answers to those three questions! Once asleep, she had dreams about searching for him, searching the city in the hope of finding him and embracing him once more. This first dream is described in chapter three of Song of Songs and must have been recounted to Solomon after they had been reunited.
She dreamed of being married and lying with him in their bed but then suddenly awakening and finding herself alone and anxious as to his whereabouts. “All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him and did not find him. I will get up now and go about the city, I will search for the one my heart loves. When I found the one my heart loves, I held him and would not let go (v. 1-4).” Surely as the hot sun rose in the east, she awoke and realized it was all just a dream and then wished and prayed until the sun set in the west, that soon her dream would become a reality.
It is true that after a few years and perhaps a few children who steal your attention away from your beloved, you come to realize that things have changed between you. It’s not bad, just different. And you begin to wonder, what about five years from now, ten years from now, or even 30 years from now, what will it be like then? Will it be different yet, will it still be as good as it is today? I can assure you that it can and will be if you include the love of God, through Christ, in your relationship. God’s love is complete and perfect in every way and if you allow Him, through His Spirit, to fill you completely each day, your love for each other will continue to grow, deepen and mature, bringing you the peace, joy and satisfaction that only He can provide (1John 4:18). Dreams are just dreams, but what God offers to those who trust him and follow him is real love and it can be seen, felt and trusted completely, because it is not a dream and or a mere fantasy. Real love does begin in the heart, deep inside you, but it is intended by God not simply to be a matter words and feelings but lived out in our actions, truthfully reflecting the Spirit who lives within us (1John 3:18). “For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything (1John 3:20).”
One takeaway from Solomon’s poetry is obvious but bears repeating. Intimacy should not be a luxury you enjoy when you have the time and energy to fit it into your busy schedule. Intimacy should be a priority in your marriage and if other commitments or activities need to take a back seat to your time together, then so be it. Your focus should be on your husband or wife, to bring them pleasure and satisfaction and if their focus is the same, that is, on you, then your time together will bring each of you the satisfaction God intends and desires for both of you. Intimacy is never to be demanded or expected but instead is to be given freely out of love and concern for your spouse, not for your self-gratification.
When I speak of intimacy, of course I’m referring to sexual relations but being intimate with your spouse has many and varied dimensions. Here’s kind of an odd one that Cindy and I share and my talking about it won’t embarrass you or me! I drive a ten year old subcompact and we always take it on long trips because it gets great gas mileage. One of the best things about those trips is that for hour after hour we are alone, close together with no distractions or interruptions. We talk about everything imaginable, my contribution being nothing more than a stream of consciousness, yet Cindy always listens or at least it appears that she does. We share ideas and thought on things we would never take the time to bring up at home. It reminds us of when we were young, when we were free of all the obligations and responsibilities that accompany adulthood. To us, this is real intimacy.
My point is that to allow others to define what intimacy is to you, is foolish and unlikely to provide what you both need. Furthermore, what each of you needs may not be unique, but the ways in which you satisfy those needs together, may very well be. It’s fine to look for new ideas and experiences but nobody knows your spouse better than you do, so start thinking and surprise him or her by your sensitivity and creativity. You may be surprised to find that real intimacy is usually found in those things you are most familiar and comfortable with.
Tool #303 Don’t listen to the world or be influenced by its standards. Listen to your heart, the one you love, and most important, listen to God.