The Challenging Leader Part 2
In our previous article, the King has invited the Shulamite to come out of her comfort zone and join Him in the adventure of maturity and spiritual warfare. But she can’t do it. Her fears are too strong, and in the first real crisis of the Song, the Shulamite declines his invitation:
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether. Song 2:17
Turn, my Beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag … . In effect, the Shulamite is saying “Go, my Friend, and do what you do. I am unable to come, but I will delight in your power and majesty.” This is the first crisis of faith, and the first point at which the Shulamite must face her own failure to experience the life she longs to live. Restoration will come later, but for now she experiences a time of defeat.
I believe a powerful story in the Gospel of Matthew corresponds directly to this prophetic scene. In chapter 14, the disciples are trying to cross the Sea of Galilee in a raging storm in the middle of the night. In a stunning fulfillment of the Song of Solomon allegory, Jesus, a real flesh-and-blood Man, comes walking on top of the stormy seas. What’s more, He invites Peter to come and join Him. I wish I could communicate the sense of majesty I am feeling as I write this. We have read this story so often and interpreted it (appropriately) in a spiritual sense, but it really happened! Jesus was really out there, dancing on the waves. It was impossible, but it happened! And then Peter really said, in time and space, during the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.), “Call me out there with You, if it’s really You!”
Jesus loves Peter’s request, and answers him without hesitation: Come! Imagine the scream in Peter’s heart. “OH NO! He’s calling my bluff!” We can hardly imagine the moment. But he went for it. He dared, if only for a moment, to dance upon his fears, and the Bridegroom’s heart was thrilled. Even though Peter lost his focus, even though he began to sink, the Lord was there, and that’s the whole point! When the King invites us to come, we can presume upon His power to save. The subsequent statement about “little faith” is not so much a rebuke as it is the affectionate and playful response of a fatherly Bridegroom Whose heart is absolutely exhilarated at the willingness of His child-friend to dare to trust Him. Far from being critical of Peter, I believe Jesus is saying “O Peter! If you only knew what is possible! Trust me, and I will take you through places and events you never even dreamed of, for with me all things are possible!”
O, Sovereign King! O, Majestic Lord of all things! I long to dare to run with You! I long for the courage of the leap of faith, the joy of the victorious dance upon the stormy waves, upon the mountains and hills of my fears. Call me again, Lord! Don’t give up on me! Sooner or later, I will trust You.