Holy smokes, I most certainly felt romanced by Jesus this week! It was a very full, very busy, very beautiful week indeed. I read Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Hosea, Joel, and 50 Psalms, I studied Amos and Song of Solomon, I attended my first ‘Streams’ campus ministry night where I co-lead a Bible study, and I got to meet a bunch of awesome people doing ministry all over Hong Kong at a big YWAM BBQ we had on Saturday! It may be week seven of my adventure, but there are still so many new, amazing people to meet, lessons to learn, and discoveries to be made. Despite having such a tight daily schedule, there really is nothing routine about my life here yet.
This week our focus for study was “Prophets and Poetry.” Cue me swooning, melting, and just generally feeling like my chest may explode because my heart is so full. I love studying the prophets. I find their lives so incredibly fascinating, and I am always just so blown away by the epicness of their relationships with God. Then poetry is just one of the things in life that absolutely delights me. The Bible is filled with deep and unique revelations, truths, beauty, and love for each and every individual person. I do however feel like the poetry of it definitely woos and draws in all the English Literature nerds out there like me in an especially strong way. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you cannot deny the literary genius that is displayed all throughout the Bible.
I learned a ton from studying Amos this week, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I definitely feel a more personal connection to Song of Solomon and want to elaborate a bit more on what I learned about this book. I studied Song of Solomon a few years ago when I wasn’t a Christian. Although I may be a completely different person now and I may be studying the book in a completely different setting, one thing definitely remains the same. I am completely enamored by the absolute beauty of the words and imagery found in this book.
Song of Solomon is one of the wisdom books in the Old Testament, and as with many famous pieces of poetry, it has a seemingly endless list of interpretations which try to explain its structure and meaning. There are also many arguments around how such an erotic book came to be in the Bible. Many people follow the interpretation that it is actually an allegory or extended metaphor for the love God has for Israel or for the love that Jesus has for the Church. While I wholeheartedly support people exploring different interpretations since I think art does speak to different people in different ways, I do not believe that the Song of Solomon is an allegory. I think that when you read the book as a whole, there are too many verses where it is just too much of a stretch to try and apply every line to this very specific interpretation. I do believe however, that one of the most special aspects of Song of Solomon, and one of it major purposes, is that it points people towards God’s mind-blowing love. I think that the Song of Solomon is a book of poetry which celebrates the joyful delights of intimacy that can be found when a man and woman come together in marriage and pursue a relationship that is under the reign of God’s given commandments about marriage and sex. The Song of Solomon is God giving us an example of what it looks like to pursue and enjoy His gift of marriage and sex in the right way, and because the topic itself is one of romance, I think it makes sense that it is given to us in poetic form, as opposed to in the form of a commandment like so much of the rest of the Old Testament.
So, following from this, I think the timeless principles that apply are:
1) God does not create bad things. If He has created something, then He has a right way to do it. If we pursue His way of doing something, then we will have delight and joy. If we try to pursue things in our own way though, we will very quickly pervert that thing, and sin will definitely follow. That does not mean that the thing was sinful to begin with however. We definitely always have the ability to give it back up to God, receive His purification and sanctification, and then pursue that thing in the right way. Sex is not intrinsically bad, our society and our world has just perverted it. Rather than following what the world does and abusing it, rather than swinging to the other side and denying its good qualities all together, we must keep turning back to God, searching His word, and searching His heart about the matter so that we can pursue this gift in a righteous, pure, and true way.
2) The good things that God does give us should always remind us of His love. We should never take those things and make them our main focus and start glorifying them, but instead we should glorify God for being such a good Father, who loves His children well, and gives them wonderful gifts.
Another highlight of this week was co-leading Streams. The YWAM Tuen Mun base has two different Campus Ministry programs with BLAH University. One is English Corner, where students come to hang out and practice their English. The other one is Streams, where students who are interested in knowing more about Jesus can come to worship, fellowship, and be a part of a Bible study. My roommate and I led a Bible study based around Philemon and finding Freedom in Christ. We ended up with five students and five staff members. Between us all, we represented twelve different nations, because there were a few people like me who have dual citizenship. We gave the students some background information on the time period when Philemon was written, we went through the text with them, asked them some questions, watched a modern day testimony on finding freedom in Christ, and then we did an activity to encourage the students to apply the principles they just learned in a practical way. We made some paper chains and then we asked the students to think about anything in their lives that they might want to get rid of or break away from. We explained to them that with Jesus it is totally possible to just give those things up to Him and receive freedom from them. All of the five students who came to Streams that night had never given their lives to Christ. By the end of the night though, three of them had received Salvation. But numbering Salvations really isn’t the point. Building relationships with the people God places in our lives to love is. And I definitely feel like all of our relationships were deepened during this ministry time.
Please pray for the students, that the things they wanted to break free from would be completely gone. Please pray for the students who accepted Christ, that they would find amazing discipleship and be protected from any doubt. Please pray for the students who did not accept Christ, that they would be guided towards knowing God’s love more and more every day. Please continue to pray for good health and healing for all the base members here. Finally, for me, please pray that I would continue to have an abundance of energy and focus while I continue to dig deeper into God’s word. Also please pray my faith would be strengthened each and every day, that I would boldly walk towards what God has for me next, trusting with all my heart that He will provide all that is needed in the perfect time and way.
Glory to God for this amazing opportunity! May He bless each one of you on each of your own journeys too. Thank you so much for reading, for praying, and for supporting me during this next season.
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.”
– Song of Solomon 8:6-7