“Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
Leaning upon her beloved?”
Song of Solomon 8:5
Once while stranded in the Alaskan wilderness I almost froze to death. It was cold, 20 F below zero, and I learned a new lesson about Jesus and His Grace.
About 30 years ago, a friend and I felt directed to bring in Bibles and discipleship materials into the village of Minto, Alaska, very near the Arctic Circle. We were driving in a little red Datsun! through about eight inches of snow late at night.
Suddenly, the car just quit running. We looked at each other, and we started to assess our situation. No cell phone, on a very remote road with no heat. We both knew that unless God made a direct intervention, we would never survive the intense cold. We prayed, and waited and thought. We had to fight the panic.
There is a wilderness we all must traverse. It can be as difficult and extreme as an Arctic landscape. The Shulamite girl in Song of Solomon knew this terrain. It is a desperate place to be. This world is a bitter place, and provides little in the way of solace and comfort. We are called to be “pilgrims and strangers,” making this journey of faith to a heavenly city.
The opening verse has witnesses or observers making a declaration. They seem to be shocked, and amazed by what they see. The Shulamite girl was spotted, making her way, slowly threading her way up from the wastelands. The path has been difficult, it would’ve been easier to quit. It has taken everything she could muster up.
But the crescendo in this verse is the declaration, “she is coming up…leaning on her beloved.” She found the help she had to have, at the side of One who loved and beloved. He had come, at just the right time to lift her up and lead her out her extremity. She has found that He is her strength. It is He who has come to deliver her. The verse seems to suggest that it is the bridegroom that is the determining factor.
His presence changes everything.
We were miraculously rescued after about 20 hours. How we survived in that frigid isolation is beyond me. Freezing to death was a strong possibility. We prayed and tried to sleep. I believe Jesus stood with three men into a overheated furnace. He was unfazed and untouched.
Somehow a very wisp of faith began to build up inside. I crawled back into our broken car and waited, wondering why I didn’t bring a warm parka?”
I remember squeezing through the car window when it became first light. The snow had completely covered the car, and as I surveyed our surroundings, I remember thinking how desolate it was. We had stalled on a high ridge, and it seemed like the loneliest and most isolated place on Earth. Perhaps it was? I felt like Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon.
This afternoon I sat out on my deck, looking and thinking. This verse entered my brain like a bullet. Walking with Jesus through my wilderness has challenged and wearied. I have fallen more times then I can count. Each time I have picked myself up. Do you know why? Because when I’m with Jesus, I know I will be fine.