This is always such crazy time as Rich and I try to remember all the things we need to prepare and take with us to India, making sure each of the 62 children in our care have a letter or card to open, each of the staff have a small token of our appreciation, birthday cards for birthday that happen while we are there, that’s not to mention clothes, toiletries, malaria tablets… (note to self… Oh I mustn’t forget to start taking mine on Friday) Then there is all the preparation for our family remaining home, the dog, parents. Children, bills – the list goes on. Yet here we are, still excited at the prospect, the blessing of seeing our wonderful Indian family and the hope that we can in some way extend the Kingdom of God through all this.
There are many times in life when it gets ‘crazy’, I am so thankful that in these times we are comforted with the testimony of history. All the other times we have been in the same place and yet are still here. Alive, rejoicing, our needs met by God and strengthened by the experience. If life is crazy for you today – remember the words of the bride in Song of Solomon chapter 2 verse 5. She says ‘Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples’. The word here for raisins is elsewhere used for ‘raisin cakes’. You know how raisins are made don’t you? Raisins are simply grapes that have been left to dry out, and raisin cakes are dried out grapes pressed together! The process concentrates the sugars in the fruit so that they are sweeter to the taste and the carbohydrates produced provide strength (without fat!) So Song of Solomon says that the process of being dried out and then being pressed together with others who have been dried out strengthens us. It’s the process that strengthens us! If you feel dried out or crushed, get together with others who have been in the same place and draw comfort from the fact that the very process of being dried out (wrung out/crushed etc.) is ultimately strengthening you and putting you in a place where you can strengthen others. If you can’t get together with others, then remember the other times you have come through and take heart!
Incidentally, in verse 3, the bride(representing the church) compares her bridegroom (Christ) to an apple tree. She says she delights to sit in his shade. I wonder if her reference to being refreshed by apples is drawing attention to the fact that, if Jesus is an apple tree, it is His fruit that refreshes us? All of us need to take time to rest in his shade!