Tension between Christ & Culture: the best chapter clip

When I read something that resonates, I want everyone I know– no, everyone in the world– to read it too. It’s not possible nor likely that even my recommendations would, or should, reach very far.  But this excerpt I typed out to share as an attempt, just in case it resonates with you also.  It comes from The Pastor, a memoir by Eugene Peterson.

About the third day after entering first grade, Garrison discovered me and took me on as his project for the next year. He gave me working knowledge of what twenty-five years later Richard Niebuhr would give me a more sophisticated understanding of—the tension between Christ and Culture. I have been taught in Sunday school not to fight and so had never learned to use my fists. I had been prepared for the wider world of neighborhood and school by memorizing “Bless those who persecute you” and “turn the other cheek.” I don’t know how Garrison Johns knew that about me—some sixth sense that bullies have, I suppose—but he picked me for his sport. Most afternoons after school he would catch me and beat me up. He also found out that I was a Christian and taunted me with “Jesus Sissy.” 

I tried finding alternate ways home by making detours through alleys, but he stalked me and always found me. I arrived home most afternoons bruised and humiliated. My mother told me that this had always been the way of Christians in the world and that I have better get used to it. I was also supposed to pray for him. The Bible verse I had memorized (“Bless…” and “Turn…”) began to get tiresome. 

I loved going to school—I was learning a lot, finding new friends, adoring my teacher. The classroom was a wonderful place. But after the dismissal bell each day I had to face Garrison Johns and get my daily beating that I was supposed to assimilate as a blessing.

March came. I remember that is was March by the weather. The winter snow was melting but there were paths of it here and there. The days were getting longer—I was no longer walking home in the late afternoon dark. Then something unexpected happened. I was with my neighborhood friends on this day, seven or eight of them, when Garrison caught up with us and started in on me, jabbing and taunting, working himself up to the main event. He had an audience, and that helped. He always did better with an audience. 

That when it happened. Totally un-calculated. Totally out of character. Something snapped within me. For just a moment the bible verses disappeared from my consciousness and I grabbed Garrison. To my surprise, and his, I realized that I was stronger then he was. I wrestled him to the ground, sat on his chest, and pinned his arms to the ground with my knees. I couldn’t believe it—he was helpless under me. At my mercy. It was too good to be true. I hit him in the face with my fists. It felt good, and I hit him again—blood spurted form his nose, a lovely crimson in the snow. By this time all the other children were cheering, egging me on, “Black his eyes!” “Bust his teeth!” A torrent of biblical invective poured from them, although nothing compared with that I would, later in life, read in the Psalms. 

I said to Garrison, “Say ‘Uncle.'” He wouldn’t say it. I him him again. More blood. More cheering. Now my audience was bringing the best out of me. And then my christian training reasserted itself. I said, “Say ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.'” And he said it. John Garrison was my one and only christian convert.

Garrison John was my introduction into the world, the “world that is not my home.” He was also my first introduction to how effortlessly that same “world” could get into me, making itself perfectly at home under the cover of my Christian language and “righteous” emotions.

How easy it is to forget, as Derek Webb once sung:

“This world has nothing for me, but this world has everything. All that I could want and nothing that I need.”

During this political and cultural season of strong opinions, taboo topics, and lines being drawn in the sand but then misinterpreted and spread like fire over the internet, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed, or cloudy. It’s a lot easier to spend my mental time on all those cloudy thoughts and expect something other then this to be true: “this had always been the way of Christians in the world and that I have better get used to it.” (not fight fire with fire or defend my rightness). There is supposed to be tension because this is not all there is. And we have a very important responsibility to talk to the holy spirit on a regular basis and let him evaluate our hearts and make us aware of the places untruth “make itself perfectly at home under the cover of christian language and “righteous” emotions.” 

There are many ways to draw from this chapter clip. Did anything resonate with you?

I loved

Advertisements

How does your garden grow?

Since last spring, The Grove garden has been a place of sanctuary for me. On that holy ground I’ve sweated out sadness or frustration. I’ve sung to God while digging, trimming & picking. I’ve had ‘aha’ moments, social moments, quiet moments, moments of generosity & selfishness, moments of silliness & perseverance, early morning coffee strolls & physical labor. Food has been shared with strangers passing by, church members & friends, neighbors & children in our programs. It’s been a source of ministry, personal pleasure, & learning.

Gods been teaching me through the dirt. Here are just 3 of the simple pondering’s from my heart during this summers gardening:

1. “Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…”

Some serious hard work! I have the upmost respect for farmers now. I cringe at wasted produce. I feel the importance of caring for the earth. I believe in the physical & mental benefits of time outdoors (preferably hands in dirt) & I can’t wait to have more structured ways to get others involved. Ok, Call me hippy dippy, but just remember God himself was the first to be into this stuff: “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8

I am continually reminded of the metaphor & promise in Galatians 6:9

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

The garden ground is a great metaphor for the heart. We reap(receive) what we sow(plant). This is true on a basic, common sense level; what we see, speak & ruminate on are all acts of planting within ourselves, which grows into our character & therefore the way we interact and are interacted with. But this is also happening on a internal spiritual level, in the places only God can see, in ways that don’t make sense to the naked eye- like my attitude at home, or private moments of obedience or giving (or not).

2. The roots of weeds can be deep, especially some of the common ones like grass or clover. They’re like the “respectable sins” of self-righteousness, pride & judgement. They don’t look so bad- maybe even ok in some places. But those precious seeds will be choked up if you don’t pull em’ out. And you gotta get sweaty loosening up that hard ground, and you get dirt under your finger nails pulling up those weedy roots, even with gloves on. Sometimes you don’t get all the roots and they come back. And If you don’t regularly pull them up, if you ignore the small ones here and there; they quickly take over. They’re strong, they go deep, they travel far and connect to other roots. They are maddening, yet a necessary battle. You win much easier when you fight daily. Consistency matters. I suppose it’s as simple as “you reap what you sow.”

3. No matter what, I’m not God. But If I’m honest, I act like I am sometimes… As if I can build my own security or control the next moment of my day.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

I was so thoughtfully given a gardening book early on in the season. I excitedly settled in for an evening with it. I had a lot to learn, but after awhile I remember thinking: “these plants are like kids, there are a thousand ways they can be messed up!” I wanted to grow organic & realistically or not, I was truly feeling defeated before even started. So I prayed for that garden. A lot. I dedicated it go God in my heart and on paper. I tried to be faithful if he gave me an idea. I worked hard. But I had to be careful to not let it be an idol in all my zeal- it’s never been mine. So, I remind myself that we are the same way. We can serve, love, work our butts off or royally screw up, but it’s God who softens hearts, changes our friends, enemies, & governments. He’s the one who gives us growth.

Thanks to many who encouraged, donated time or supplies, or just acted excited with me over a zucchini! It’s been fun. Thanks to the Grove for entrusting me with the space. And thanks to God who gives good gifts & growth to those of us who ask & believe.

IMG_2586.JPG

IMG_2416.JPG

IMG_2582.JPG

IMG_2086.JPG

IMG_2529.JPG

Homesick for Eden

The garden was green, the air was clean.
The animals came without names & love was a girl who walked through a world where passion was pure as a flame
In the back of our minds is a time after time
And a sad irreversible fact:
We can’t seem to think why we left there, and we can’t seem to find our way back
For all of us are homesick for Eden
We yearn to return to a place we’ve never known
Deep is the need to go back to the garden, a yearning so strong for a place we belong, the place that we know is home.

-unknown author

Turns out, turning 30 wasn’t about me.

The day was quite dreadful. I feel shame saying this- because of the parts that were my fault, because of concern my husband will feel a certain way. Yet I can’t get away from the truth of the horribly, really bad, rotten day. It bothers me that it still bothers me.

As it turns out, turning 30 was not about me.

I have always downplayed my birthdays & felt rather awkward about them. Yet, I quietly looked forward to this mile-marker. I thought of it eagerly 10 years ago as when I would finally have it “together.” I thought of it 5 years ago & had a steadfast plan for how awesome it would be, or maybe it was how awesome I would be. (I was going to be in the best physical shape of my life- something similar to Jessica Biel). I thought of it 1 year ago & thought maybe somehow I would be able to get some of my scattered & haphazardly different circles of friends together & we’d shoot each other with paintballs or magically all be somewhere at the same time & have an evening of laughs & everyone would have the best time ever, even though they’d never really get along otherwise (especially if they saw each others Facebook feeds).

None of that happened. It snuck up on me. When I realized it was just around the corner of the calendar I became overwhelmed & discouraged but I couldn’t place why. It fell on a really inconvenient weekend. I hadn’t planned ahead, no one else did either. I was 2 years and a personal trainer away from Jessica Biel. I was broke. I was tired. I didn’t feel together. I wasn’t feeling awesome.

I was. I wasn’t. I didn’t. i. i. i.

And then, I woke up on my birthday in disappointment; the little secret hopes I had whittled down to were just not going to happen. I had a terrible attitude and felt entitled to it- that’s bondage, by the way. I argued with God in my head. I wanted to be a sweet, perfect wife & step-mom even in disappointment. I wanted to be gracious. I also wanted someone to feel sorry for me. I also wanted to be angry, to disappear, to start over, to fast forward out the discomfort.

The day didn’t get better; It was awkward & lonely, it was never redeemed, I gave into feelings I felt entitled to & they did me no justice.

Throughout the rest of the month I contemplated the deeper issues of what went wrong: warped belief systems, baggage, misunderstandings… all the while I felt bothered that I even cared at all; it was just a day, why was I so selfish? Yet during this time of grappling I also had begun a running habit- I was liking it for the first time ever. I began this devotional centered around gratitude & it was(is) rocking my world. I was excited for lent & made lots of intentional changes, for the right reasons this time- so excited I started them early. I opened my eyes and saw where I am compared to where I was, I saw what I was saying yes to in my life & how good it was. Then, somewhere in those wrestling new & old thoughts, God whispered. Once when my hands were dirty in the garden, once when I was breathing deep on a run. He whispered: “This is your mile-marker year. I’m changing you. Celebrate it, but I will get the glory.

Then I understood. I understood that God is using even these unfortunate circumstances (that I’m so quick to want to fix) to shape me. I remembered. I remembered I had asked for change & freedom- and this freedom costs, it costs only because of the grip I have on feelings, things & beliefs that put me in bondage & loosening that grip can hurt. I rejoiced. I rejoiced in letting it go. I rejoiced in my heart because I had eyes to see the bigger picture & in it I wasn’t in control. For a moment there was no “i” – with God this is freedom.

Here are some quotes I remember reading in the last few years. I wrote them in my journal and turned them into a prayer for who I wanted to be one day. Sometimes I’m hesitant about these kinds of prayers, for the process is not sexy. But mostly I’m hopeful & expectant, because the result is nearness to God. It’s like being turned into a sunset. Sublime. Worth it.

“Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on & plunge into eternity, there to be made forever what we have made it.” -St. Frances de Sales

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest things right, and doing all with love.” -St. Therese of Liseux

“Man is created to praise, reverence, & serve God our Lord, & by this means to save his soul. All other things on the face of this earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created… Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in so far as it is left to the choice of our freewill & not forbidden. Act accordingly, for our part we shall not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short one. And so in all things we should desire & choose only those things that will best help us attain the end for which we were created.” -St Ignatius of Loyola

“Understanding is the reward given by faith. Do not try to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand.” -Saint Augustine 

“Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, his Lordship. The cross, as it enters the love life, will reveal the hearts truth. My heart, I knew, would be forever a lonely hunter unless settled ‘where true joys are the be found.’“-Elisabeth Elliot

“It’s astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves” -Oswald Chambers

 

#WeLiveInAChurch #thehow

#thehow

This foggy idea was presented to us one day. It was blurry & vague with mostly unknowns but it centered around one thing: move into a room in a church & do stuff for the community in God’s name & commit to live for a year in a sort of modern monastic rhythm. Although I tried not to move a muscle in my face, truth be told I felt mostly horror within me. Mostly, but there was a teeny tiny spark of interest & hope & peace, a dangerous flicker that needed to be snuffed.

There were many aspects of my life crossing roads at the time: figuring out marriage, shift-work & it’s consequent schedule that no one gets, just moving into my mini-dream house, personal struggles with Gods calling, & the fact that my husband was immediately all in this idea while I was reaching my hands out trying to grab onto everything, anything that would keep me feeling a sense of control & comfort.

We had a small closet in our house meant for a laundry system. My husband had insisted on making it a pray space- just big enough to sit in & look around at pictures to pray for, cork board to post prayers, journals to write in; a place in our house set aside to host God’s presence. So I went in there & told God what was up, for a good hour. I cried out my concerns & fears. I reasoned with Him. I reminded Him of all the unknowns and ways things could go wrong. I asked him to change my heart if this was really Him presenting something to me.

And He did.

Now, I know my heart (not as well as my Father), but I’ve learned to recognize it’s hardness in the flesh & my slow human process of change. This change wasn’t me. It was gentle & it was humbling. Before long I was free of all my reasonable, responsible concerns. I actually believed, without doubt: “God knows better then me. He’s been taking care of me. He knows whats good for me. He’ll work out those details (is there mold there? why did he just give me this house I love to take it away? Do I even like church people? What will we actually be doing there anyway?) Period.”

I wouldn’t have been able to tell myself that, AND MEAN IT, if I hadn’t been talking to Him so much. If I hadn’t gotten quiet with him & allowed Him to show me where He was in my day-to-day strife the past year. If I didn’t have the husband I do who lives like he believes communing with God in any moment is actually the best-thing-ever. If I didn’t come to Him with my honest & earnest feelings and distress instead of trying to mull them over and figure it out myself.

But I did, & He did.

SONY DSCSome young new friends playing music in our in church apartment early one sunday morning.

Soon to come #thewhy & #thewhat

valuables lost

I caught my breath as I read these words this morning:

To consider Jesus better than everything else in the world is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.  

And at the recommendation of the writer to read them again slowly, I did.

To  consider  Jesus  better  than  everything  else  in  the  world  is  at  the  heart  of  what  it  means  to  be  a  Christian.

As I reflect on what it means in my life to:  “count gains as loss for the sake of Christ” as Paul talks about in Phil 3 I am shocked and humbled. While listing some things I value I began to understand that I do not count these as loss. I count these things and privileges  and valuables to work for, watch over and even fight for. And it begs the question: What do I do when something I value is lost or taking away? Or threatened? Or asked for? Do I respond this same way to Jesus?

loss

Paul’s life consisted of much suffering and his attitude about it all is something I can barely wrap my mind around if I’m being realistic. I pout when people ask for money from us; for their needs, even when it’s family asking, even when my needs are already taken care of. This is a real confession; I’m not proud about my inner thoughts even when my actions seem “good.” To be prepared (and I like to be prepared in all my earthly wise ways) to handle suffering, even in the expectable trials that come with life, we must count our things as lost. I must. Not only to handle life graciously and gracefully, but to gain Christ and what He’s promised. The two are intertwined.

These reflections and confessions were all inspired from the Desiring God Blog: How Christians Prepare for Suffering. I recommend checking it out for a deeper reflection.

stoned to death : because words mean more then words

I read a story recently, one I have read before, however, this time I was deeply moved. Tears seemed to pour out from my belly.

I’m not sure where the story starts (or ends) but the bible is like that; so deeply interwoven it continues forever, enlightening itself. I’ll begin at the end of chapter 6.

Stephen was sitting in front of the Sanhedrin. I picture this to be like a religious court (and I shudder at the thought). Stephen was in trouble. The religious Jews opposed him and his message but because Stephen was full of God’s grace and power they couldn’t seem to shut him down. They secretly stirred up lies and rumors to be able to accuse and bring Stephen to the Sanhedrin. They went as far as to bring false witnesses to lie about him. The Sanhedrin looked to Stephen intently to explain himself and his face was like the face of an angel. Stephen began to talk and he retells their own oral history, starting many generations back with Abraham. At the end of it all he tells them what he has showed them through the history of their forefathers: that they are stiff-necked religious men who have wasted their lives, have it all wrong and have betrayed, murdered and resisted God. Of course they were outraged at this disrespect and they “gnashed their teeth.” I am imagining a room full of prideful men who consider themselves godly, in the right, and upholders of the law. Men who cannot stand to be humiliated to the point of becoming an emotional, reactionary, mob.

Stephen tops it off by looking up to the sky. The Holy Spirit has filled him(something they can’t understand) and he sees what they cannot. He tells them (probably shouts) that he sees heaven open up and Jesus (who they killed) is up there. This is the stuff our best stories are made of… this is like when Bilbo Baggins puts the ring on for the first time and becomes invisible and escapes from Golom, except this is better. These men are so enraged to their core at Stephens mere words  that they cover their ears and scream. They rush him, drag him out and stone him.

I was so into this story I was balling my eyes out. Maybe it’s because I was remembering a gruesome scene from  The Stoning of Soraya M. A film about a woman being stoned in Iran who was also plotted against and falsely accused. Maybe it’s because the relationship between Stephen and the Sanhedrin is so similar to the relationship between Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Miserablesand that is my favorite story/play that recently moved me again with the release of a new film. But I think the serious affect of this story has to do with the fact that it is the living, breathing, word of God. And when I read it as such, it changes me without any effort on my part. I happened to read this randomly, in the middle of the night, after I had been in prayer and worship during a 12am-6m night watch.

And I saw a different angle then ever before. This story is often known in relation to the story of Paul (one of the guys who wrote a lot of the bible) because before Paul was performing miracles and doing all he did… he hated Christians too, so much so, he was into killing them. He was at this stoning (he went by the name of Saul at this time). He in fact held the clothes of the men who did it so they didn’t get ruined with blood. But that’s not the part I’m focused on this time.

Stephen has been dragged out of the city by a angry mob of men who are now hitting him with stones, intending to kill him. He prays to God to take his spirit, and then, on his knees, he cries out: “Lord, do not hold this against them.” He immediately falls asleep. That capacity for forgiveness is inhuman and I can only understand it as grace from God. Yet, what moved me to my knees was more then this.

God’s love. God was with Stephen through this whole process. Reading this with my own eyes and understanding I could easily ask, why would God let that happen? Yet it doesn’t seems to have bothered Stephen. He was FULL. While reading these words I saw that he was more content then I’ve ever been.  He was transformed early on, when his face was “like an angel”. He was completely freed from fear of man, of earth, and all it’s threats. All that mattered was God’s love for him and for the people so much so that he had to tell the truth even if it wouldn’t be heard at that time. He had to be obedient even though he would die just for being the messenger. But none of that mattered because he believed fully, and felt fully, God’s love and presence. He was changed  so completely by a peace that passes all understanding that he could be being killed by a mob and peacefully say: “Lord, do not hold this against them.” And God had this happen to him, because he loved him. Stephen left life by falling asleep. Even if you don’t believe in the bible or God or any of this, you gotta admit that if there is a God, an infinite power that is the only true love, falling asleep in his arms while feeling his peace and protection during chaos might be the best feeling ever. The feeling of Love.

Acts 6:8-7:60

SONY DSC

snobbery and truth

Sometimes I joke about my snobbery. coffee snob. movie snob. chocolate snob. But today, I’m not laughing. Pulling up to the prayer room with Carl we could see a small huddle of people by the door. You could tell there was homeless among them. I’ll be bluntly honest here. While walking up to the door … Continue reading

when breakfast isn’t enough

Ever have cravings and don’t know what you’re hungry for? My tendency when this happens is to eat something unhealthy and when I find it unsatisfying I just eat something else and continue until I feel terrible and unsatisfied.

This morning, over greek yogurt with banana slices and freshly pressed black coffee, I tried to meet with God. My mind intervened: Wait, let me respond to this message on facebook real quick. Wait, I better look this up before I forget. Wait, let me read this email first…

When I finally got around to trying to quiet my mind it just didn’t want to let go of distractions. I also didn’t feel passion to pray for anything.  Neither did I feel guided to read anything. Well, this was quite different from my last few reverent mornings. Where was the feeling of God? Why was he withdrawn? Somehow I flipped to Song of Solomon- a book I’ve always avoided (one of many avoidance’s that are being made relevent lately). Perhaps I was curious about it because of recent conversations about God and the Church, the Bride and Bridegroom and how it all relates to my upcoming marriage.

I dove in and read Song of Solomon in its entirety. A few things stuck out a little but God just didn’t seem to be showing up like I wanted. I had this thought to go to 24/7 with Carl and stay for his entire shift instead of dropping him off as usual. I decided to go with that instinct (guidance?) even though I didn’t feel like it.

Before leaving I quickly had a second breakfast while preparing  lunch. Yet, after all that eating,  2 hours later while sitting at 24/7  I thought I felt hungry again. I starting picking at the food I made for lunch. I forgot a fork so I used my fingers to alternate eating a piece of pasta then a piece of spicy sausage. I was eating rather quickly, almost fast enough to feel self-conscious about it when the loud background music quieted and I heard the worship leader shout: “I’m hungry for you Lord!” As I slowly raised a piece of pasta to my mouth, those words resonated within my being and my physical appetite was suddenly gone. Still, I recognized a hunger within me. I could physically feel it but the pasta didn’t soothe or comfort it. In fact, I had to put down that last piece raised to my lips.

Almost simultaneously my mind remembered something I lingered on earlier while reading Song of Solomon.  Somewhere in the middle, my memory was foggy yet insistent upon understanding the metaphor, I could sense it all coming together to speak something to me. The beloved, she was waiting for her lover. Oh! and he was at the door. She lingered to get it, and when she did she found he was gone. Realizing her folly she ran into the streets to find him.

Now it made sense.

I am hungry: “I am hungry for you God!”

Not hungry for the comfort of food or even the comfort of my own distractions although that’s what it felt like.  I was hungry for my lover, but I stopped to eat every fleeting thought or whim. Then, I wondered where he was when I decided to get up and open the door. My new response? Excuse me, while I run into the streets to find Him. Awaken my soul!

“Awakened souls are more sensible of Christ’s withdrawing than of any other trouble.”

Song of Solomon 5:2-8 “I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.” 3) I have taken off my robe– must I put it on again? I have washed my feet– must I soil them again? 4) My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him. 5) I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock. 6) I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer. 7) The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my cloak, those watchmen of the walls! 8) O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you– if you find my lover, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love.”

Commentary: Churches and believers, by carelessness and security, provoke Christ to withdraw. We ought to notice our spiritual slumbers and distempers. Christ knocks to awaken us, knocks by his word and Spirit, knocks by afflictions and by our consciences; thus,  ( Revelation 3:20 ) . When we are unmindful of Christ, still he thinks of us. Christ’s love to us should engage ours to him, even in the most self-denying instances; and we only can be gainers by it. Careless souls put slights on Jesus Christ. Another could not be sent to open the door. Christ calls to us, but we have no mind, or pretend we have no strength, or we have no time, and think we may be excused. Making excuses is making light of Christ. Those put contempt upon Christ, who cannot find in their hearts to bear a cold blast, or to leave a warm bed for him. See the powerful influences of Divine grace. He put in his hand to unbolt the door, as one weary of waiting. This betokens a work of the Spirit upon the soul. The believer’s rising above self-indulgence, seeking by prayer for the consolations of Christ, and to remove every hinderance to communion with him; these actings of the soul are represented by the hands dropping sweet-smelling myrrh upon the handles of the locks. But the Beloved was gone! By absenting himself, Christ will teach his people to value his gracious visits more highly. Observe, the soul still calls Christ her Beloved. Every desertion is not despair. Lord, I believe, though I must say, Lord, help my unbelief. His words melted me, yet, wretch that I was, I made excuses. The smothering and stifling of convictions will be very bitter to think of, when God opens our eyes. The soul went in pursuit of him; not only prayed, but used means, sought him in the ways wherein he used to be found. The watchmen wounded me. Some refer it to those who misapply the word to awakened consciences. The charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, seems to mean the distressed believer’s desire of the prayers of the feeblest Christian. Awakened souls are more sensible of Christ’s withdrawings than of any other trouble.

Matthew Henry Commentary  (concise version) from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-concise/song-of-solomon/song-of-solomon-5.html)