Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Wilderness

There was a time in my life when I just KNEW he was the one for me. I prayed that God would lead our hearts together. That our friendship would grow into something more. These were the pleadings of a thirteen year-old girl who sincerely thought she had found her soul mate. But…..God did not act. He did not orchestrate some grand relationship that would make fairy tale characters jealous….at least, not with the person that I thought He would. Fast forward a few years, and He would introduce me to someone much better….the man He had specifically picked out for me to spend the rest of my life with. How grateful I am that He did not give me the desires of my heart at thirteen years old! If He had, I never would have met my husband and I am positive that I would not have been as happy as I am today.
Oh, how easy it is to forget that God has our best interests in mind when answering our prayers! As Roman and I diligently pray over an area in our lives, I can say without a doubt that this has been the biggest test of my faith in my short 22 years of life. I have cried over this prayer, I have lost sleep over it, I have gotten angry at God and then angry at myself. Yet He still comes back with only one answer: wait. “How much longer??” my heart cries. “Why can’t You just give me a hint??” But sometimes, God doesn’t answer those questions. Sometimes, He wants us to be still and be patient and quit stomping our feet like a two year-old in a grocery store who wants that chocolate chip cookie RIGHT NOW.
We make a grave mistake when we tell new Christians that living for Christ is easy….because this faith thing is stinking hard sometimes. It’s easy to say things like, “Trust in God” and, “He will answer in His timing”. But when you are walking through a dark time of doubt and confusion, those phrases suddenly become much harder to live out.
Two things I have learned through this:
1) My relationship with God is not give and take. Just because I work hard in my ministries at church, try to be a good wife, pay my tithes, etc. does not mean that God is obligated to give me what I want. Our relationship is not a cash transaction. I give back to God out of my love for Him. He is not obligated to give me anything in return…after all, He’s already given me the greatest gift I could ask for by sending His Son to die for me over 2,000 years ago. Now thankfully, He delights in blessing His children, but often times those blessings come in ways we don’t expect. And many times God is blessing us by not giving us what we ask for, even though we can’t understand why.
2) God feels our emotions. He rejoices when we rejoice. He mourns when we mourn. It gives Him no pleasure to see our heart broken as we go through the pains of this earth. That is such a comfort to me… know that even though He may not send what I am asking for in this moment, He understands my thought patterns and is walking through this battle with me. I am not praying to an emotionless God that cannot see or understand my hurt, quite the contrary! My God sees. My God knows. My God understands.
Walking out our faith can sometimes seem impossible. There have been quite a few times over the past several months that I have wanted to just throw in the towel and walk away from God. Sadly, when faced with the tough situations, many Christians do just that. So if you’re in a place of “waiting” like me, I would like to encourage you to dig in deep and keep running after God’s heart. I will not promise that He will grant you every desire of your heart, because sometimes He may not. But what I can promise you is that He hasn’t forgotten you. He takes no joy in our suffering and He certainly does not plan to leave us behind. You cannot work hard enough for Him to get what you are asking for, and He is not punishing you for stealing that pencil when you were three years old. As hard as it may be….sometimes He just wants us to be still. Let His love satisfy your soul, even as you pray over the desires of your heart.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that I just sit around my house reading my Bible and singing worship songs every evening while I pray over this issue. I am not perfect in this “being still” thing….far from it! But it is perfectly okay for me to break down and cry. It is perfectly okay for me to ask God the hard questions (He can take it). It is perfectly okay for me take a day to stop and rest…to go get a pedicure and a diet coke… talk to a sister in Christ about my struggles…to write an insurmountable number of pages in my prayer journal. After all, He knows that we are humans with emotions. He knows that we have a finite mind and can only see a small pixel out of the picture.
One last thing: whatever it is you’re going through right now, it won’t last forever. It may seem like it will….it may seem like it already has. But I promise you, it won’t. One day our faith will be made sight. We will spend eternity with our God, and He will wipe the tears from our eyes and we will know a joy that never ends. And at the end of the day, no matter what comes my way in this life…even if I never get what I’m asking for, I know that heaven is a reality and that I have something to look forward to.
If you would like to read more about this topic, I encourage you to check out a re-post that Lysa Terkeurst had on her website today (this was totally for me this morning!). Click here to read her post.  Also, I am currently reading a book called “Pursued” by Jud Wilhite. This book explains God’s love for us in ways I have never thought about before, and it has been such a great help to me over the past few weeks. So check it out if you're struggling in your faith, it will definitely get your mind thinking!

I now leave you with one of my most favorite passages of Scripture out of the Bible:
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day, declares the Lord, you will call Me ‘My Husband’; you will no longer call Me ‘My Master’”. ~Hosea 2:14-16

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