Tuesday, July 8, 2014

28 years

                I’ll be twenty-eight tomorrow and I can’t help but look back on the last decade and see what the Lord has done in my life. Those (almost) twenty-eight years of singleness have taught me a lot about my relationship with the Lord. It’s brought me closer to him. It’s taught me trust and dependence on him alone. It’s taught me I don’t always need what I think I do. It’s brought me down hard paths, times full of goodness, and a life full of love from my creator. 

                The years of singleness have been hard sometimes, and full of tears from time to time, but I wouldn’t give up one moment of them because each of them have built a relationship with my Savior I would never give up. 

                Life has changed a lot for me since May. It’s changed so much sometimes I still don’t believe the gifts God has placed in my life are quite real.  It amazes me how quickly life can change and how sometimes God is so good I feel as if I don’t deserve the gifts he gives. 

                Last May my mom shared a story with me about a woman who through life’s hard times was willing to give up her will for God’s and say yes to him even when it would have been easier to say no. After more than a decade of saying yes to God during the hard times, her life abounded with amazing good gifts from God. So she turned to God and asked him why he was giving her so much. He simply replied, “Because you said ‘yes’ when you would’ve rather said ‘no.’”

                My mom told me she felt as though God wanted her to share the story with me because he was about to do something wonderful in my life because I too had been willing to say ‘yes’ to him.

Two days later the guy I liked (and I mean really liked) asked me out.

                Now if you’ve been following my blog you know I’ve never dated and never even had a crush on a boy, but this boy, oh this boy, I had a crush on big time. I’d met him the fall before, but never noticed him “that” way until April. Suddenly, he was all I could think about. I even told a friend that if she could hear everything running through my head she’d shoot me because it felt like I was up one second and then down the next. 

                I wasn’t sure if he liked me or even if it was within God’s will, so I dedicated hours to praying that his will be done. I prayed that if it wasn’t in his will that he’d take the feelings away; that I could walk away and forget all about it.

I prayed that no matter what, I live within his will even if it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to know that should the relationship happen it came about because HE willed it, not me. 

                Through it all I kept checking with God to make sure he was holding onto the key. I was afraid that somehow, some way, I was going to inadvertently take the key away from him, but each and every time he gently reassured me he was securely holding it. 

                The weekend he (from here on out known as G) asked me out I came away from church absolutely positive he didn’t like me the same way I liked him (unknown to me he’d planned to ask me out after church, but was distracted by someone else). 

I drove home that day and cried. My hopes were crushed and I felt as though the only thing I could do was give up my hopes and dreams to God. Obviously, my desires where not the same as God’s and I needed to give them into his keeping. 

I spent all of Sunday and most of Monday feeling depressed and fighting to place my desires within God’s grasp. In a way it felt as though God was asking me to give up My Isaac again (see the post “Giving up Isaac”). He was asking if his will was more important than mine. If I was willing to give up everything I wanted for his will in my life. It hurt, but I knew I did. 

Monday afternoon, still feeling down, I picked up my Bible and opened it to Psalms hoping to find comfort there.  And there in Psalm 27:13-14  I found it,

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

It felt like a promise from God, that no matter the heartache now, he was still going to work good in my life; all I had to do was take heart and wait for the Lord.

Encouraged I got up to make myself some tea. On my way back to my room I noticed my phone had a message from Facebook on it. Curious as to who was sending me a private message I opened it only to find it was from G! In it, he asked if I’d like to go out for coffee sometime. A second message asked if Wednesday would work. 

Giddy, I answered, I’d love to! (Of course!)

It wasn’t until later I noticed his first message had been sent Sunday afternoon and the second sent Monday night. My phone never alerted me to the first message, even though I had been on Facebook several times during that time. 

Despite the anxiety it left G with, I believe God hid that first message from me because he wanted me to fully give up my will and give into his before he gifted me with the thing I wanted most. I was reminded once again that I would “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Two months have passed since that day and life just feels like it keeps getting better and better. There is no one I’d rather spend my time with, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual ;)

 I look at him now and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God’s will and blessing is upon this relationship and that knowledge fills me overflowing with joy.

There have been so many moments in this relationship where I have seen God at work answering asked and unasked prayers.

Like a wonderful family friend telling him I was sweet girl and he’d never regret it if he asked me out :) 

Or the night I just really wanted him to text, not because I texted him, but just because he was thinking about me. I prayed and half an hour later he sent me the sweetest text with the picture of a flower.

Or how, I’d been praying for weeks for him to bring up whether we we’re officially dating or not, and God used someone to prompt him into asking me.

I cannot truly express with words how absolutely amazing and wonderful it is to know this relationship was (and is) orchestrated and blessed by God. 

God is good. He is good when all else looks bleak. He is good when his will trumps my own. He is good when life overflows with blessings.

Looking back at the past 28 years I know, beyond any doubt, despite how happy G makes me, I wouldn’t give up one moment of my single years. It was in those moments, turned into years, that I grew in the Lord. My relationship with him is more important than any earthly one no matter how much I may like a certain someone and I wouldn’t want to lose one moment of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good Gifts From Above

I really do think God sometimes sits in heaven rubbing his hands together in glee when he knows he’s sending something our way that will overwhelm us with joy. Just like us, I bet he can’t wait to see our faces when he grants us the thing we want most; and just like us I imagine he is beyond hurt when we don’t acknowledge were the gift came from.

I love giving gifts to my parents and siblings when I know exactly what they want. Holding onto the gift until I can give it to them is almost unbearable and my excitement knows no bounds when I can finally give it to them. I imagine God is the same way when he gives us gifts. He knows the deepest desires of our hearts and he loves to give us good gifts. Psalm 84:11b says, “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk is blameless.” That doesn’t mean he’ll give us everything we want, because sometimes the thing we think is good isn’t the best for us. Sometimes withholding the good is the best thing for us.

Now imagine giving the best gift ever to someone you love and have them thank someone else for the gift. How would you feel? Awful? Angry? Hurt? I imagine all of those things would run through you, and yet we do it to God so many times. He gives us good gifts and we never stop to acknowledge were it came from or thank the one who gave it.

Recently, I had someone share that she keeps a Prayer Answered journal. She started when she was fourteen and has kept up with it since then. Her idea has inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a wonderful idea to keep a record of all the times God has worked good in our lives.  Although some days I’d probably fill page after page with all the prayers he answers. Things like God healing my car after I prayed over it or giving me more day shifts at work when I asked him for them. Then there are the prayers he answers day after day; like keeping me safe on the roads when I travel home from work late at night or in terrible weather. Or granting me patience at work when I feel I have none left. God is constantly granting my prayers and I’d have to fill a room full of journals to just to keep up with his goodness.

No matter where you’re at in your relationship with God I encourage you to keep a Prayer Answered journal. It may not seem like God is doing much in your life, but I bet if you started keeping track and looking for the answered prayers you’d begin to see God works far beyond what we always see. It’s amazing to see how he answers the asked prayers and the unasked prayers. 

The journal would also be great reminder of God’s goodness when things seem to be going wrong or falling down around us. A reminder that even though the horizon seems dark God still works good.

“And we know that in all things God works
                for the good of those who love him,
          who have been called
            according to his purpose.”
         -Romans 8:28

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When Lies Become the Truth

I just heard on the radio that 63% of Christian singles on Mingle.com and similar dating sites say they'd have sex before marriage. It breaks my heart that so many young people don't see anything wrong with that. I think what hurts the most is knowledge that a living breathing relationship with God is missing from so many young people's lives.

I also realize, however, that we, as Christians, are often deceived and tempted into sin. Just because in the past you slept with someone outside of marriage doesn't mean you don't have a real relationship with God. It's when you enter into the dating scene believing from the start that it’s okay to have premarital sex that something vital is missing from your relationship with God. And it's that fact that hurts that most. 

When the Lord's presence is real and at work in your life you know when you're living in disobedience. You know because he won't leave you alone. He brings people and things into your life to show you. There's a shadow that seems to hover over your heart and never goes away, at least not until you acknowledge your sin and start to change.

I originally started writing about my experiences as young single Christian woman for reasons just like this. I wanted others to know and experience the joys of a relationship with a Savior who died to know them. Yes, it can be hard at times, but no other relationship even comes close to the one found in Jesus. When I hear stories and statistics like this one my heart breaks because there are so many "Christians" out there who are obviously lacking that relationship.

How have we come so far from the truth? When did we start substituting lies for truth? When did we let what the world tells us become our basis for moral living rather that what God tells us? I wish I could put into words the hurt I feel at lack of a living relationship with God so many people have in their lives, especially when I know the joys of being in God's presence, but words tend to fall so short.

I didn't write this today to judge anyone or make anyone feel bad, because I am the last person to judge, but only because I wish so much more for our culture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Proverbs 3:5-6

I wrote this post about a year ago and never really finished it. However, I woke up this morning with these verses going through my head so I pulled up this old post and tried to polish it a little. It's still not great, but I felt it held some great lessons so I'm sharing with all of you today. Hopefully you'll be as challenged and blessed as I have been by these verses, even if they have been used a million times! :)

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
              and lean not on your own understanding;
                 in all your ways submit to him,
             and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6. Probably two of the most famous bible verses of our generation. It’s everywhere. It’s engraved on mugs, written on plaques, and most likely listed as one of the top 10 favorite verses by Christians (by my guess anyway). It’s everywhere we look and yet how many of us actually stop to think about what it’s really saying? 

            Before I write any more I have a confession to make. I don’t particularly like these verses. I’m not even sure why I don’t. I mean, I appreciate the fact that they’re the words of God and that they’re full of wisdom, but if you asked me what my favorite verses were they wouldn’t even come close to my top 50. Maybe it’s because they’re so popular or perhaps it’s because I’ve heard them a thousand times. I don’t really know. All I do know is when someone mentions them or I happen to come across them I quickly rush by them all the while thinking to myself, “yeah, yeah I know those verses. I don’t need to hear/read them again.” To me they are tired and old so I search for something new never giving them more than a passing thought.

That is until tonight. I was surfing through the internet looking for a verse I couldn’t quite remember when Proverbs 3:5-6 verses popped up. Normally I would have skimmed right over them over and kept looking but something stopped me. Whoever had originally posted them had italicized the very end of verse 6 and for some reason those last seven words stuck with me even after I had moved on.

God showed me something about these verses I had never really seen or thought about before. I don’t know why, it is pretty obvious (and maybe everyone but me has seen it along!). In the first three lines the writer of Proverbs gives us three instructions, to trust in the Lord, to lean not on our own understanding, and to submit to God. Finally, in the very last one he tells us that God will make our paths straight. This is where I had to stop and realize it says God will make my paths straight; not that I complete the first three actions and then I will make my paths straight. I have nothing to do with turning my life around and following the right path beyond giving him everything. I often think that as long as I follow what God is telling me and try my best to obey and grow closer to him then I can steer myself in the right direction, but in all truth I’m probably steering myself off the road more often than following it. 

Furthermore, it says to trust in the Lord with ALL your heart…. and in ALL your ways submit to him. Not with part, not with some, not even with the majority, but with ALL of it! We can’t half-heartedly commit to him. He wants it all. Every last corner, every little speck, every hidden secret. If we truly follow what this verse is instructing then we are handing over control. We are no longer at the wheel of our life. The moment we hand over the wheel we are no longer in control of where we’re headed and that can be a very scary, stomach dropping, heart pumping, terrifying thought. I can say in the end it’s all going to be okay, but the truth is most of us probably won’t get that far. I don’t say that to be discouraging or to stop anyone from trying (I hope you DO keep trying!), but only to point out our human condition. Most of us love being in control (I know I do) and it’s hard to let go even when we know we should. Sure we give up control for a while, but when life doesn’t seem to be going the way we think it should we tend to wrestle control from God so we can swing our lives in the direction we deem best. 

I wish it was easier to give up control. To sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the adventure that God has before me, but just like Dug (see post titled “Distractions”) I am easily distracted. In fact sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to have spiritual ADHD because there are times when I feel like I’m all over the place, unable to fully listen to what God is saying and teaching. 

Obviously, learning to let go and let God lead is a hard lesson to learn, but I’m trying each day to give up me and let God be the guide. So often, I feel as though I know which direction my life should be going in and yet God seems headed in a totally different direction. It’s not easy giving up what I want, especially when it’s something I really want, but someday I hope I learn his way is best so I can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring update

Hey all,

So I've been meaning to sit down for a while and write a new post, but quite honestly I'm not sure where I'm going with the next post. Part of me wants to write another one or two posts on singleness, but another part feels like its time to move on to the next topic.

I have so many bits and pieces about singleness I've written cluttering up my computer I feel as though I should at least try to combine them and make one last post, but that requires time I'm not sure I have right now!

Most of what I write is based off things God is currently teaching me, and I've been praying he shows me what he would have me write next, so hopefully in the next week or two I'll have the next post up. I'm not exactly holding my breath though! ;)

I hope where ever you are you're beginning to feel the beginnings of spring! I know I've had enough of winter for several months!

God bless,