Letters were written for Jenny’s girls and given to each of them in their own personal book. With each page there was a small envelope, and in each envelope, a letter that could be opened for “now and again.”
(This is Letter #5 in the Book of 7 Letters)
I’m sure you’re wondering, “How many letters is this crazy woman going to write?”
I’m thinking, perhaps seven. And, my goal is to have all of them finished and put together, somehow special, in some little book by Valentine’s Day.
I am hoping they bring hugs from God to you as you read them “now and again.”
When I get all anxious about writing this letter, I hear the Lord, (not audibly, mind you, but in my heart) tell me, “Just tell them about the Song.”
So, I will. But first I must make mention of those greenish-gray walls of the hospital room.
Your mom, found herself in this hospital room when the 24/7 home-health care ran out of funding. I didn’t even know she was in the hospital until she had already been there for 3 weeks.
The surroundings for one day, or even three of the drab pale green walls with no joy or pictures to see, would have made any woman close to losing-her-mind.
But the first time I went to visit her, after finding out she was in the hospital, (which was your mom’s greatest fear, by he way), was three weeks after she had been placed in this room.
And the first words your mom said to me when I walked in was, “God’s answering prayer.” She had a tear drop, but there was not one word of complaint.
She had expectations and hope still, that she was going to walk right out of there. She had sadness. She had discouragement. But she had hope. Your mom had joy. She had faith. And she loved her girls. And never ceased to pray for your dad.
But she would say to me, “But I can’t do anything.”
But your mom waited with her expectation in God and in Him alone.
Back to the “drab” room. My mother-in-law, Bette painted a fabulous window on a large canvas, with shutters opening to a tropical paradise. This beautiful picture provided a ‘Window to Paradise’ for Jenny, your mom. Yes, with tape on cold brick walls, the painting was put up to be a window of paradise.
That’s what your mom could see looking straight ahead. Girls, it really was one of Bette Rypkema’s finest.
I start this letter telling you about this “Window to Paradise” because, as your mom and I read through the Song of Songs in that hospital room, it’s almost as if our King, and Lover of our souls, transported us—His maidens,His Bride, through that beautiful painted window that now hung on the wall, through that tropical paradise, to His castle of love in the heavenly places of our heart.
The surroundings disappeared. The Book was opened and the King James version was read aloud. Here is the Song we heard, along with my paraphrase that I gleaned from a fabulous commentary. (Pastor Jon Courson, Application Commentary Old Testament, Vol. 2.)
Our King, the Son of Love sang: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves eyes.” (Song of Solomon 1:15,KJV).
It’s as if the brokenness inside us both opened our hungry and thirsty ears, and we heard our Shepherd-King’s voice say,
“My love, look to Me and hear my words. You are beautiful to Me. I see the Holy Spirit like a dove, alive in all that makes you— you. You are so beautiful to Me.”
Your mom and I heard these words as if for the very first time.
I knew Jesus loved me, but I don’t think I had ever heard Him say, “You are beautiful to Me.”
Next in the song, the maiden spoke, “Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.”(Song of Sol. 1:17).
“Lord, it’s You, You are beautiful, and yes, so pleasant and restful is our home, full of safety and strength and stability.”
Your mom and I were so encouraged. We talked how it is true, that “surely goodness and mercy follow us. But someday, His House, we will be loved complete. We will dwell in His House, forever.
Our King, the Son of Love then sang,“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”(Song of Sol. 2:1,2).
My heart skipped a beat, it seems, because even though I don’t understand why He allows the “thorns”,(all our trials and the many troubles your mom was going through), in the end, I was comforted that He knew about all the thorns. He’s the lily among thorns.
He knows all about thorns. He even wore a crown of thorns on His head so we might one day wear a crown of gold.
And then I thought of a verse your mom and I read before from Phil. 1:29. That verse that no one wants to put in their ‘promise box’ of scriptures. It reads, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”
But the response from the maiden reminded me of your mom’s response to all the thorns in her life.
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song.d 2:3,4)
How I knew, and desired that this be my daily song as well.
“Lord, Your shade cools the heat and pressures of this life and Your fruit of love is sweeter than life itself. Lord, Your banner of love over me is that You always believe the best about me, and You always have plans of hope and a future for me, and You endure to the end with me with Your everlasting love and Your everlasting arms . . .
“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.” (Song of Sol. 2:6). You Lord are love, there is nothing greater than Your arms of love.
But we loved what came next, when the maiden tells us what her beloved was doing: “The voice of my beloved, behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills…” (Song of Sol. 2:8).Yes, we see the mountains. Mountains of trouble that is, but to Jesus, these mountains are nothing.
They bring fear and dread to us but for Jesus, He leaps upon them. Oh, how your mom an I loved those words.
And then we read as the maiden was speaking of her beloved: “My beloved spake, and said unto me, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…” (Song of Sol. 2:10,11).
This is when your mom simply said, “Wow!” And she got my attention. And she said… “My name, ‘Jenny’, means “fair one”.
So we read the words again: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing birds is come…”
And we were even more encouraged that “God was going to do something amazing real soon,” as your mom kept believing.
Your mom and I felt like we had just spent some time in the castle with our King, and He showed us His banner of love like we had never seen it before. We were changed. We prayed and thanked Him for touching our hearts so tenderly that morning, and we sang tenderly back to Him,
“I Love You Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship You, O my soul rejoice. Take joy my King, in what You hear, let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ears.”
And now we can know that God did do something amazing, just as your mama knew in heart that He would do. You see, we were both there together, and He was there with us.
He spoke and we heard Him. It’s as if He breathed into us that morning His plan, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
We didn’t know it then, but now we do. Jesus was preparing His beautiful love. He was speaking to His maiden, “Arise, Jenny, and come away with Me. Your long winter is now over, the rains are gone forever, there is beauty and color and song…you are beautiful to Me, today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Jesus prepared us both together. And He loves you girls so very much. I am so sorry for your loss. I just want you to know the stories, so you can read them, ‘now and again’ and hopefully find some comfort from the Lord.
with much love, Toni Rypkema