“Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Acts 17:34 KJV
This week we take a look at Damaris, a woman who was baptized by Paul in Ahtens. There is much debate around Damaris. Is the meaning of her name a heifer, or goddess of fertility or dominant? Was she or was she not married to Dionysius? Was she the lone female in a setting of males? And if so, was she a wife or “companion” of one of the men?
What we do know is that Damaris, and others, became baptized believers after hearing Paul speak in Athens and they clave to him. The word clave, past tense of cleave, stopped me in my tracks. Partly because I love words and this one was new to me, and because it just sounds romantic and I am a hopeful romantic.
The Bible has two meanings for cleave: 1. To split apart, as you would a log, and 2. To cling to as we find in our text this week. Interesting that the same word can have the exact opposite meaning. The question I ask myself is, “Am I cleaving well?” Have I split apart from me those things or relationships that are not of God? Am I clinging to Jesus, my husband, my children, and my ministry in ways that please God?
In John 15:2 Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine and God as the gardener who cuts off every branch that does not produce fruit and prunes every branch that does. Though cleave is not used here, the thought of splitting apart reminds me that I should always be mindful of things, actions or people who are attached to me that do not honor God. As I look to eternity, I want only to be a part of what God is a part of. To do that I must cleave away anything that is not of God. Not always easy or fun, but necessary to live a blessed life.
On the flip side, I want to cling to my faith, my husband and family, my godly friendships and the ministry work I have been called to. Our pastor speaks often of covenant relationships. That’s what came to mind as I thought about clinging to as a definition of cleave. In Ruth 1:14, it says Ruth clave to her mother-in-law, Naomi as Orpah kissed her good-bye. It feels like a desperate move, this cleaving, like a covenant. As though any other option just cannot be imagined or tolerated.
That is cleaving well. Believing there are some things that just cannot be or remain part of my life. And knowing there are relationships and a calling that I must hold fast to. This is a constant process – splitting apart and clinging to. And it demands that we stay in constant contact with the One who can lead us to cleave well. Selah…
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Your turn… When has God prompted you to split something or someone apart from your life? What we the result of your obedience? What are you clinging to in your life? Are you cleaving well? Share your thought with us in the comment section. ~ Andrea