I'm not sure if you're like me, but I have a tendency to be a little hard on myself. In weaker moments, I find myself tirelessly and hopelessly trying to make my garden, my heart in a sense, perfect.
Check that off my list. Accomplish that goal. Overcome that fear. Grow exactly that much (like I planned).
The problem I always run into is that, well, I'm not perfect. And I'm not going to be because I'm human. As I read this passage from Song of Songs, a couple different things stuck out to me.
First, this expression of love by the man is so beautiful. He has such a loving reverence toward the mystery of his lover: "A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed." It is reminiscent of the paradise of the Garden of Eden, but it also points to fidelity and exclusivity in their relationship. Each time I read it, it's humbling to immerse myself on the receiving end of those words.
In a different sense, I have also realized I've locked and sealed my own garden so often in my life - and not necessarily with the same reverence and affection expressed in these verses. You could say that I have tried to make sure everything was perfect before letting someone in, before letting God in.
However, here the lover sees the locked garden and begins complimenting the fruits and gifts, the garden fountain and living water! I often worry about the weeds when our Lord Jesus Christ is delighting in my beauty and goodness. He does not require perfection before he romances us and shares his love.
I love the tender, intimate imagery of this passage as one lover approaches the other. It reminds me of the reverence and closeness we are called to have in our human relationships as well as with God. The confidence of the woman in verse 16 is beautiful and courageous, unafraid and unashamed to be exactly who she is for her beloved.
Can you think of a time in which you have experienced this level of vulnerability and intimacy with another person or with God? What can you do to deepen your relationship with Christ in this way?