Tag Archives: Jesus

Confessions of a Single Life: Part 2

“You’ll find him when you stop looking for him.”

“God will grant the desires of your heart so just keep praying for him everyday.”

“When you are the woman God wants you to be, He’ll bring you the man you’re supposed to marry.”

And my personal favorite: “Jesus is your first love anyway. He’s the best boyfriend you’ll ever have so just focus on him.”

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While there may be hints of Scripture and some truth in each of these statements, they have typically been much more hurtful than helpful. Yes, I know people who met their spouse the minute they stopped stressing and simply started living. Yes, I believe in praying for your future spouse. Yes, I believe in focusing on becoming the fullness of what God designed me to be. Yes, Jesus’ sacrificial love for me is incomprehensible and complete. However, can I just let you know that although Jesus has given me more than anyone else ever has or ever will, he still has never sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day, he’s really hard to cuddle with, and people stare when they see you talking to an empty chair at restaurants.

These statements are hurtful because at the heart of many of them is an implication that a spouse would appear if only I did or said the right thing. There is a subtle message that if only I had more faith or prayed the right prayers or had the right posture towards life then everything would be working out like I want. I spent way too long believing that if I just prayed the right prayer or had the right amount of faith or lived my life in a certain way then God would FINALLY provide a husband. It’s just not true. There is a major theological problem with this – God cannot and will not be manipulated. He is not a puzzle to be solved, a genie in a bottle that will release 3 wishes with the right words, or a magician waiting for the right spell to be spoken.

And though Jesus’ love for me is complete, no, he is not my boyfriend. He is my Savior. He is my Lord. Two things a boyfriend or husband can never be. In fact, according to Courtney Reissig, “Marriage to Jesus while waiting for a husband can often trivialize our Savior in a way that makes him more like a sweet boyfriend who takes us out on dates, rather than the God-man who paid for our sin on the cross. Jesus did not accomplish redemption to marry us individually. He died for the church corporate, of which we are a part. His death accomplished something much greater than simply meeting our deep-seated desires for a significant other. That is what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 5:22-33 when he speaks of the mystery of marriage.”*

So, to all my single ladies (and gentlemen) who deeply long for a spouse, allow me to offer these words that I pray will give hope instead of cause hurt and maybe bring clarity instead of creating more confusion. First, yes keep praying for and about your future spouse. Make your requests known to God! Like any good parent, he does give good gifts (Matthew 7:11), does give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4), and does invite us to persist in prayer (Luke 18:1), However, sometimes what we want and ask for is not in line with God’s plan for our lives. And so like any good parent would, he says no, or not yet. Second, instead of trying to find the magic formula to get God to give you what you want, set your heart and mind on Him (Colossians 3:2), recognize that God’s ways are not your ways (Isaiah 55:8), and trust that God’s specific plan for your life is bigger and better than anything you can imagine and that he will faithfully carry it to completion (too many to cite). Trust. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. Either you trust God is good and His plan for you is better than your own plans, or you don’t. Third, remember that Jesus and many of those early apostles set an example of how to live as a single person. Jesus himself knows what you are going through! Finally, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life, including your marital status!

And to the “paired up” friends wanting to be helpful, may I encourage you to listen, seek to understand, validate, and empathize with your single friends. May I kindly suggest you refrain from offering advice? (“Have you tried Christian Mingle?” is not a helpful thing to say!) It is also not helpful to tell your single friends about the ways marriage drives you nuts. It is REALLY not helpful to complain about your sex life (at least you have one). It IS helpful to pray with and for your single friends, but ask them specifically how you can pray. It IS helpful to grieve with them, to hope with them, and to go out to dinner with them so they don’t have to keep talking to an empty chair. And it MAY be helpful to introduce them to people you think might be good for them, but do so with their permission and only if they are open to being introduced to someone. If you have someone in mind for a single friend of yours, simply ask, “Are you open to meeting someone I know and think might be a good match for you?”

Married or single, we are all part of God’s beautifully diverse family. We all have a special role to play in advancing His kingdom, in spreading the Good News, and in loving others well in Jesus’ name.  Single or taken, we’re all awesome because we are made, adopted, and loved by an awesome God!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your experience! How can we honor, support and encourage one another regardless of our marital status? Does the church need to do anything differently to invite those who are single more fully into the church? Let me know what you think!

*”Why Jesus Isn’t Your Boyfriend: A Critique of Dating God.” Christianity Today, June 25, 2012 http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/june/why-jesus-isnt-your-boyfriend-critique-of-dating-god.html?start=2

With Eager Expectation…

Remember the agonizing wait for Christmas morning as a small child? It was nearly unbearable! The presents sitting under the tree taunting you with their shiny wrapping and glittering bows. My sister and I would shake each gift in hopes of deciphering the contents inside. It never worked. Mom was too good at disguising each gift with packages of bolts and screws to throw us off the trail! Sometimes my sister and I were cute enough (or annoying enough) to convince my parents to let us open a present early. I’ll never forget unwrapping Pound Puppies on the 23rd. It was AWESOME! And yet, there was a let down as well as the rest of the presents still mocked us from under the tree.

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Advent is all about waiting. The fourth Sunday of Advent is upon us and frankly, I haven’t spent enough time waiting! Instead, my life becomes a crazy, busy, stressful mess each December and I’m just hoping and praying Christmas doesn’t come too quickly. I know I am not alone. December flies by and I crash into Christmas. I’ve lost the art of waiting. The Israelites were professionals when it came to waiting. They waited for the coming Messiah for hundreds of years. Not months, not years, not decades, but CENTURIES!

David cried out, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalms 130:5).” While in captivity in Babylon, Isaiah proclaimed, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him (Isaiah 8:17).” Only a remnant believed, the rest had lost hope. In fact, for four hundred years, the remnant became so small that Scripture is silent. The hope for a coming Messiah was nearly lost, the waiting had become too much to bear. But even during this apparent hopelessness, the heavenly hosts held the hope for the world. Look at Romans 8:19-22, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

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I imagine angels, cherubim and seraphim eagerly watching over the world like small children keep watch over the Christmas tree.

We too must regain the ability to wait with eager expectation. The kind of waiting that is narrowly unbearable. The kind of waiting that leads to only the greatest of joys and celebrations. Waiting is difficult, but the end result is incredible. One year I convinced my sister to tell me what was inside each of my gifts. It ruined Christmas. There was no surprise. No expectation. No eager anticipation. Christmas is just days away, so may we live out the desperate anticipation of the coming Messiah. May we learn to long for Emmanuel, God with us, like a small child longs to open their gifts on Christmas Day.

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:23-25)

 

Jesus is my friend (and Heaven is my home)

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I just returned from vacation. Not your typical vacation full of exotic places, beaches, resorts, or theme parks. No. I spent a week visiting friends – hopping from one guest room to another. And I have to tell you, I have the very best friends in the entire world. Seriously, no contest, it’s not even close. As I reflected on the week with these wonderful people, I realized that there are some commonalities among my friendships that make them so rich and meaningful.

My friendships are full of laughter. Time with friends is always characterized with quick, witty comments and side splitting antics. My friends are fun and funny.

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My friendships are familiar and comfortable. The houses have changed and there are now husbands and children, but one thing has remained – I’m at home when I’m in their presence. None of my friends even flinched when I informed them of my intentions of paying a visit. All would have been offended had I even thought of staying at a hotel. The comfort and hospitality  so great that there’s no hesitancy to raid the fridge when hungry and in need of a late night snack.

Capt Sundae's then (with Amy)
Capt Sundae’s then (with Amy)
And now (with Hyatt)
And now (with Hyatt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friendships are authentic and honest. My friends speak truth to me, even when that truth is difficult or not what I want to hear. My friends challenge me and sharpen me.

My friendship are full of genuine love, care, and acceptance. My friends have loved me when I wasn’t very lovable and stood by me when I couldn’t stand on my own. My friends have attended sporting events despite a true disinterest in sports, learned more about Iowa than they ever thought possible, and continue to pretend to care about my dog as much as I do.

Sunitha has attended more sporting events than she cares to count with me. And she doesn't like sports.
Sunitha has attended more sporting events than she cares to count with me. And she doesn’t like sports.

My friends know me. My friends are excited to connect with me -whether it’s daily or it’s been four years, whether it’s a text message of a favorite line from FRIENDS or a treasured hand written letter. My friends pray for me. My friends cheer me on and believe in me. My friends weep and cry with me.

Back "then" - Meeting Warren Barfield.
Back “then” – Meeting Warren Barfield.

As I sat in church last Sunday, it was this experience of friendship that led me to realize something regarding my walk with Jesus. My pastor is currently speaking on eternity – the reality and truth about heaven and hell. I often have a longing for heaven, an ache that echoes deep in my soul. However, my understanding of heaven is so vague and lacking. I have often wondered if I simply choose heaven because of a fear of hell. Then it hit me… my longing for home is natural for this world is not my home, but what makes heaven home? I stayed in three lovely houses during my vacation. What made them special was not the architecture or the furnishings, but the people who dwell there – my friends. Heaven is home because that is where Jesus is. And Jesus is my friend.

John 15:13-15 says, “13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

However, what I realized sitting in church made me sad. I realized that I don’t treat Jesus like he’s my friend. I don’t have the same inside jokes, comfort, authenticity, knowledge, or genuineness with him as I do with my earthly friends. Oh, he has that with me, but it is often so one-sided as I rarely reciprocate. No, instead, I tend to approach Jesus like a celebrity I’ve been able to meet. I look at him with star crossed eyes, hoping to get an autograph, and brag that I’ve met him without actually growing close relationally or emotionally. But Jesus is more than a celebrity who happens to know my name.

JESUS IS MY FRIEND! And he longs for me to act as such. He wants to share laughs, inside jokes, and playful pokes. He wants me to know him as intimately as he already knows me. He longs to spend time with me, long or short, silly or serious. He wants me to be most comfortable in his presence and not feel bashful about raiding his refrigerator. Heaven is exciting because I literally get to hang out with Jesus, not as a fan adoring a celebrity but as intimate and genuine friends. Jesus said so himself.

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And so my new prayer is that I see Jesus as He sees me, as a friend, and that my relationship with him reflects that truth. Only then will I be able to truly bring heaven to earth and only then will my longing for heaven truly make sense. What keeps you from seeing Jesus as your friend? How do you hope grow closer and become more intimate and comfortable with Jesus?