Archive | scripture

who is invited?

Is the family of God exclusive or inclusive?

When I was about seventeen, I was attended a soiree. That’s right, not a party—a soiree. “Who is invited?” I had asked. My brother and sister who were sure the invitation included me, though that wasn’t completely evident. They were friends of the family hosting the event and I was an acquaintance of theirs. I put on my satin skirt and a black top, my mom gently suggested I put a little effort into my hair and we took the long drive to their secluded home.

It was Christmastime, there was wassail on the stove and horse devours on the coffee table and a shining grand piano that it would seem every guest knew how to play, but me. Everyone was very nice and I enjoyed my wassail and the live music, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was out of place. The group seemed very exclusive and I couldn’t help but wonder if I hadn’t been invited at all.

Have you ever felt that way? It’s not the most pleasant feeling.

Now imagine receiving an invitation to a big, wonderful party (or soiree!) There is sure to be food and drink, live music and games, lots of laughing and talking and good times. Anyone is welcome, but you have to bring an invitation, and invitations are sent out at request. Would you consider this an exclusive party?

This is similar to a question a lot of people have about Christianity. If God is good, if God is love, how can He “send people to hell”? If you really loved people, you would be more tolerant, more inclusive. All people should be able to go to heaven when they die, right?

First of all, don’t take my word for this. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, emphasis mine.) It doesn’t take a scholar to interpret that verse. The great news is, everyone is welcome into the Kingdom of God, but there is only one road, one gate, one key that we all must use.

The Bible doesn’t just say, “God is loving,” it says “God is love.” (1 John 4:8.) That means that everything He does is love, even his “severe mercies” as Elisabeth Elliot called them.  Making only one “key” to heaven’s gate, that excludes all of the other keys we could possibly try, and that’s done out of love for us. He isn’t trying to trick us, there is no riddle. There’s just one key. And the other keys? The key we make ourselves, the key someone else presses into our hands, the key we found somewhere along the way–they won’t turn the lock.

There was a time when God spoke to people only through occasional prophets on misty, glowing hilltops. He gave us the law carved in stone, there was no “buts” about it and we were swallowed by the earth if we failed to live up to those expectations. He was already Love, but His love for had not been consummated on the cross, yet. Out of love, He showed us that we cannot work for love. Love that we have to work for is not love at all. He chose a high priest, a Jewish man of a certain line, to communicate with Him. Communication was more tense than any meet-the-parents dinner. The priest entered God’s presence only once a year, and with so many particulars, Moses wrote an entire book of instructions based on God’s words to Him. The priests wore a rope round their waist when in God’s presence so their dead body could be dragged out if God struck them down for some reason (no one else could enter The Holy of Holies to retrieve him.)

When Solomon built the temple, the people who wished to worship were segregated into several sections. The Most Holy Place was for The High Priest only. Beyond that was the Court of the Priests. Beyond that was a court where men were allowed. Then there was a court outside of that for women. Beyond that was The Court of the Gentiles were non-Jews were permitted to enter. (Here’s a little diagram.) The curtain that hung in front of the Most Holy Place was a physical and spiritual barrier between God and you and I. (Personally, I am not a priest or a man or a Jew.)

However, when Jesus died, a miracle occurred.

And then Jesus cried out once more, loudly, and then He breathed His last breath. At that instant, the temple curtain was torn in half, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50-51)

I can’t get over the way the author of Hebrews puts it:

So, my friends, Jesus by His blood gives us courage to enter the most holy place. He has created for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through His flesh. Since we have a great High Priest who presides over the house of God, let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The curtain that God Himself instructed man to create, was torn in half by the power of God’s love. His message was loud and clear: all are welcome in His presence, in his family and in His unending love. Men, women, Jews, Gentiles…absolutely everyone. 

That doesn’t undo what Jesus said about Himself. He is still the only way into God’s presence. We must come through he new and living way, through His flesh. That’s the only way we can have “true hearts, full of faith…rinsed clean of any evil conscience.” The party I was speaking of, is still invitation only. But there’s a catch: the invitation is open to anyone. As a matter of fact, when you come to the door empty handed, Jesus opens the door and gives you His own invitation to use as passage.

All you have to do is come to the door, knock and say, “I don’t have an invitation, I can’t get one on my own. But I want to come into the party and I know you can help.”

“It will not be just the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob who celebrate at their heavenly banquet at the end of time. No, people will come from the East and the West—and those who recognize Me, regardless of their lineage, will sit with Me at that feast.” -Jesus Christ, Matthew 8:11

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in which I’m sheltered, close-minded and old-fashioned

It’s 2015 and I’m staying up late with the sixteen year old brother discussing people who go through sex changes. Sixteen would be an appropriate time to discuss appropriate sexual desires (preferably with my dad!) but this? It’s frustrating that this is even a topic. It’s frustrating that he’s not even on social media, he was just checking his email and this popped up, huge and unavoidable.

I’m frustrated because I know it’s not just a show for attention. That would be so much easier to handle. I know that it’s something deep inside a person, something possibly innate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not twisted. If you want to tell me that homosexuality and transgenderism and all else is “natural,” I will not argue with you. The Bible won’t argue with you. The Bible knows all this exists (it’s not the cheery, naive book some pastors would have you believe) and that it’s woven into our very nature. But it calls it something else, it calls it sexual immorality.

I know what some of you are thinking. She’s been sheltered, she’s still a little close-minded. She doesn’t understand how to properly interpret scripture. If she was really friends with more LGBT folks, she’d see that they’re just regular people, worthy of our love.

Yes, to all of the above. I have been sheltered (which I appreciate,) and I am proud of the fact that my mind is not so open my brain has fallen out.  I don’t claim to perfectly interpret scriptures or to be any kind of scholar, and I’m sure if I had more friends who identified as LGBT, I’d certainly find them more relatable. This isn’t about relating to them. I actually don’t have lots of trouble relating to them. I don’t have trouble nodding along as they explain that they’ve had these feelings since they were tiny kids, or opening my arms when they need help. Everyone is worthy of love, or rather–none of us are, but we all owe it to one another.

What I have a problem with is sick folks, hurting folks, broken folks, coming into the church for help, and the church telling them they’re perfect just the way they are.

That is so not Jesus. Jesus told us we were born crooked and contrary and had to be born all over again. Jesus told us we were far, far, far from our perfect father and had to be reconciled in a radical way. Jesus told us that even looking at another lustfully was enough to separate us from heaven. We’re cheating people when we tell “your sin is just what makes you “you” ” Jesus came to save us from depravity, not make us feel more comfortable with it with each passing year.

Surprisingly, The Bible hasn’t changed much in the past few thousand years. Arguing that it’s outdated is a bit of a stretch if you believe that God exists outside of time and inspired the words of the book with his very spirit. I understand that King James did not write the Bible, that everything has been translated from various languages into my own language and even then, is subject to interpretation, which always includes bias. With that said, 1 Timothy 1:8-11 is still what I would consider to be Holy Scripture, taken from ancient manuscripts I believe were inspired by God. That’s the only reason it’s worth reading, mulling over, sharing or discussing.

You and I know the law is good (if used in the right way), and we also know the law was not designed for law-abiding people but for lawbreakers and criminals, the ungodly and sin-filled, the unholy and worldly, the father killers and mother killers, the murderers, the sexually immoral and homosexuals, slave dealers, liars, perjurers, and anyone else who acts against the sound doctrine laid out in the glorious, holy, and pure good news of the blessed God that has been entrusted to me.

Can I be honest with you? It makes me nauseated to see all these sins listed together. I hate that sexual immorality is listed with slave dealers, liars, and people who murder their mothers. But it is. And that’s not about my own choice, or my political stances or feelings.

I believe that we are born sinful. I believe in mental disorders. I believe in sexual disorders. I believe in little boys who wish they were little girls and vice versa. I believe that sometimes it’s as natural as can be for those folks. But don’t all sins spring forth from our inner nature? Isn’t rape the perfect example of acting on one’s nature? How about crimes of passion? Adultery? Theft? Gluttony?

And that would include all types of sexual immorality. The Bible does not shy away from any topic, or any type of sin. There are accounts of every type of debauchery and God’s response to them. It tells us that when we sin sexually, we are sinning against our own bodies. Is that something we want to encourage or condone? It tells us that our bodies were not meant for these things, but meant for God. It tells us that God abhors sexual sin and takes great measures to eradicate it. We see that it’s God’s will for us to make better choices for our bodies, and consequently our hearts.

(Now, I know there’s debate about what “natural” means, so for the sake of clarity, I am referring to our “sin nature” which is inclined to do all sorts of harmful things. When scripture uses the term “unnatural,” I think it means the same thing Paul meant in 1 Timothy, “against the sound doctrine laid in the…good news.” Crooked, corrupt, twisted, outside of God’s intention.)

My little brother shakes his head in disbelief while mind wanders back to a place it’s settled frequently, Ecclesiastes. It’s all new to my brother, his naive mind can scarcely comprehend what the pixels tried to show him, but Solomon’s been dead many years, and even he knew there’s nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:10)

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted. (vs. 14-15)

Solomon was not old-fashioned and close-minded like his father David had been. David was a “good ol’ boy” who was sometimes blood thirsty and tempted by beautiful women. He made foolish mistakes in moments of passion and fear. Solomon was a playboy like the world had never seen. No one would’ve denied him anything. He was brilliant, powerful, filthy rich. He had “singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.” He himself said, “whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them.” His parties would’ve put Vegas to shame, but it didn’t make him happy.

I watched a piece from NPR yesterday about two folks who went through sex reassignment surgery. When you watch the video, you feel for them. I kept my eyes on the screen, trying to step into their shoes. But what really got me? What really disturbed me? When one person (female, now identifying as male) shared his life goal, post-surgery: “My main, over-all focus of my life is that I’ll be happy and fulfilled, and that I’ll have people that love me, surrounding me. I believe that that is possible.”

When our -main, over-all focus- is to

When our “main, over-all focus” is to make ourselves happy and to feel accepted, we will never, ever be happy and fulfilled. Maybe we will have a temporary happiness, just as an adulterous man has temporary happiness with his new lover, but we cannot be fulfilled outside of Jesus. (Yes, I really believe that!) If that sounds close-minded, it’s because it is. Jesus said of Himself, “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life.” That doesn’t leave room for many other options. We lean back in our lawn chairs and say, “Ah, this is the life.” But luxury and self-indulgence is a fleeting pleasure. Jesus is the life. Telling people anything else is a crock.

I love what Jen Hatmaker said about it, in her old post that still comes to my mind frequently:

…Laying next to them, bloodied and bruised, are believers whose theology affirms homosexuality and allows them to stand alongside their gay friends. (Again, you don’t have to agree with this, but there are tens of thousands of thinking, studied people who hold this conviction.) The spiritual gutting of these brothers and sisters is nothing short of shameful. The mockery and dismissal and vitriol leveled at these folks is disgraceful.

Also wounded on the side of the road are Christians who sincerely love God and people and believe homosexuality is a sin, but they’ve been lumped in with the Big Loud Mean Voices unfairly. Painted as hateful intolerants, they are actually kind and loving and are simply trying to be faithful. The paintbrush is too wide, the indictments unfounded.

She is mulling over the parable of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10, and I think that’s a perfect place to start. Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan, and imagine there’s a transgender person lying on the side of the road. Or switch it up, and try to accept help from a transgender person when you are the one whose bloody and bruised, and then ask Jesus yourself, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus truly is our perfect example. I love that I’m always learning new things about Him. It was awesome when I suddenly saw how carefully and passionately Jesus cared for the women in His life. It was another revelation when I saw how He reached out to the sexually immoral. The woman who has been married for five times and is now living with a man, the woman who is caught in the act of adultery, the prostitute who found herself in the royal lineage…none of them go unseen by God. Each of them is offered mercy, compassion, and a place at the party.

I’m not intolerant of people, I’m intolerant of lies. True life comes when we see the truth about ourselves. We are sinners. Some of the most natural things we do are sinful. Some of the things that would give us the most temporal pleasure will keep us from “life to the fullest” that Jesus offers.

People who will do anything to make themselves happy, are not heroes. People who condone what needs to be condemned are feeding the fire that’s burning their own brothers and sisters. People with what Jen called, “Big Loud Mean Voices” look nothing like the Jesus they claim to follow.

My little brother was still shaking his head when he went to bed, and I was sitting on the couch staring into space, wondering how in the world Jesus stayed on that cross for six hours, taking on the sins in my own heart, and your heart and in the hearts of every person. It’s hard to imagine, but it must be true: God hated our sin that much, and loved us even more. Now it’s our turn to be known by our love. Not our love of comfort, happiness or approval, but of souls.

God hated our sin that much, and loved

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how to be the fairest of them all

I open the box the mailman just delivered and begin to grin. I pull out a beautiful bronze necklace and hold it up for my sisters to see. I think it’s charming, so I plan tomorrow’s outfit around it. I wear my new necklace to the office, post it on Instagram. necklace from FTFThe jewelry, along with the tote bag, are all handmade by women in developing countries. They create these accessories as a way to support themselves and their families. In 2007, The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported the presence of over three million female sex workers in India. 35.47 of these “workers” are thought to enter the trade before the age of eighteen. An estimated 1.2 million children are kept as sex slaves in India, though all prostitution is technically illegal there. Dignified work is hard to come by.

New jewelry complements my nice outfit, including the t-shirt I bought at Forever21 before I knew that Forever21 knowingly uses slave labor to manufacture their merchandise. Something new to wear can make you feel like “the fairest of them all,” but when I look at the dimly-lit image of my torso, toting those three pendants, my heart begins to beat a little harder. I think of the tawny hands, pressing those clasps together. The pendant reminds me of coins dropping into a worn palm, being carried to the market to buy food for her babies, her elderly mother, herself.

Sam Levenson Quote

Fair Trade Friday isn’t a gimmick, because 100% of the profits go straight to the hands of the artisans. If you believe in teaching a man to fish, do you also believe in teaching a woman to sew? Most of these women do not have a man in their life to support them in anyway, some of them were sold as slaves as children, all of them face extreme sexual discrimination, and those are the girls who survive the “gendercide.”

I’ve talked before about what fair trade means to me, and I still lie awake at night, shaking my metaphorical fist in the air, complaining that “life is not fair!” But what is fair? Paying for what we’re getting is fair. Being paid for your work is fair. Being able to use your wages to support yourself and your family is fair. There is a great shadow over our planet, but there are sunspots on the path, little spots of hope, little spots of justice, little spots of fairness.

FTF club tags

My fair-skinned hands hold the same cords that were crafted in the hands of my Indian sisters, Hem Lata, Yogesh and Karma, and didn’t Solomon say that a threefold cord is not quickly broken? So how about you become part of the cord? The three folds can be you, the Fair Trade Friday Club and a hardworking woman across the ocean like Hem Lata, Yogesh or Karma.

Does that sound fair? 

The Fair Trade Friday Club exists to empower the women at Mercy House Kenya, as well as women in Ethiopia, Zambia, Costa Rica, India, Uganda, Rwanda, Honduras, Bangladesh, Haiti, Swaziland and Nicaragua. 

When someone says, “where is that necklace from?” we answer with the name of a store, and maybe a quick mention of what a great deal we got on it. But that’s not where your necklace is from. We’ve long-been wearing slavery around our necks, donning oppression and adorning ourselves with exploitation. We have bought the poor for a pair of sandals, not stopping to ask how those sandals could cost us so little. The truth is, we aren’t paying full price.

The single mom in India is paying your share. The nine-year-old slave in Bangladesh is paying your share. The woman with AIDS, the woman who is pregnant again because her customers refuse to use condoms, the woman who just buried her fifth child—she is paying your share, and that isn’t becoming. It doesn’t wear well. It doesn’t flatter.

It’s time we paid for our products. Next time you see a great deal, think of Proverbs 22:16, “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” And when you see the true price of the product you want to buy, don’t balk. Think about Proverbs 14:31, “But whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.”

A beautiful hand is one that reaches out and gives to the poor, a beautiful eye is one that sees the dignity in another, a beautiful body wears justice and the woman who doesn’t cheat and steal for the things she wears, she is the fairest of them all. 

Audrey Hepburn Quote

Would you consider partnering with us in this three-fold cord? The Fair Trade Friday Club is run by a handful of folks, so please forgive the fact that a waiting list is currently in use. Sign up now, and you’ll be notified when you can be accommodated. Also consider joining our Earring of the Month Club or donating to the empowering work being done at Mercy House Kenya

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3 {real} reasons to dress modestly

3 real reasons to dress modestly

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV

I’ve heard it said that the 1 Timothy 2:9 call for women in the church to “adorn themselves in modest apparel” is probably more in reference to not spending lots of time and money trying to look better than each other, rather than a reference to how much skin they were covering (after all, I’m pretty sure even the gentiles of that day-and-age wore pretty discreet attire.) It should not surprise us that Paul would be inspired by God to write to women about focusing on things above, rather than vain, exterior things.

It is ironic, however, think of how this applies to us in 2015. Obviously, we should not be so shallow as to spend all of our money and time competing with one another on who has the latest, trendiest clothes. But also, in our culture in which we compete over who has the longest legs, smallest waist, most toned arms or most shapely this-or-that, our competition almost takes us back to the old understanding of the text: that women should cover our bodies.

Let’s take the sexual aspect of it out. Say there were no men who might “stumble” depending on how you’re dressed. Say that were a non-issue. Would you dress modestly, or would you still try to tout certain features as a way to compete with other women?

We will always have “designer” this and “the latest” that to use against each other, and to don as medals of fashion victories, but we’re probably even more obsessed with sizes than brands.

There are some unhealthy reasons to dress modestly, the topmost being that you are ashamed of your body. You are a designer piece, handcrafted by someone so enamored with you, He calls you His masterpiece. Your body belongs to God and He, in all his pure glory, finds it fit to dwell in. The body is celebrated in scripture as beautiful, sensual, strong and sacred. Take care of your body and don’t be ashamed of it!

The second most common unhealthy reason for modesty is the idea that women are to blame for men’s lust issues. This is somewhat complicated, but in a nutshell: we are sexual beings who should be and will be attracted to one another, no matter how we dress. However, being attracted to someone and committing the sin that is lust are two different things. We are all, men and women alike, prone to lust and responsible for our own actions. With that said, we would do well not to tempt anyone, be it our brother or sister, into any kind of sin, whether that be lust or envy or malice or gossip.

Proverbs warns continually agains “the temptress” who lures men into her web, no doubt by immodest dress, word and action. Don’t be a temptress…to anyone!

With that said, I still think it’s important that we dress modestly in the traditional sense which is, covering our bodies. What that means exactly (how long, loose and dull must our clothes be??) is not for me to say. For one thing, I have not received any special message from God about that. For another, it really is, as much as we hate to admit it, a matter of culture. As I’ve written before, it’s a also matter of personal convictions. 

With that said, here are three real reasons to dress modestly:

1. Modesty says, “I am dignified.” 

Few things have remained true throughout the centuries, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the association between modesty and dignity. Though advances in woman’s stance in the culture have (thankfully) led to fewer restrictions on what we wear, we cannot fully associate immodest dress with liberty. In many ways, showing the world our bodies says, “Don’t objectify me, I’ll objectify myself!” No matter our motive, we are still showcasing our bodies as mere sexual objects when we purposefully dress in a way that’s seen as revealing. So yes, it’s liberty from corsets and dragging hemlines and the “rules” that governed both, but it’s not true liberty. True liberty is found in Christ, and when we acknowledge that, we no longer need the attention that comes along with dressing a certain way.

If we are going to continue fighting for gender equality, let’s make sure our dignity as women is at the frontline. I don’t want to be “liberated” so that I can use my hips and waist and breasts and legs to entice, but so that, like men, I can be respected for my mind and heart and ideas and strengths. Gender equality will exist when we’re not disappointed in “plain” women who do amazing things! Einstein wasn’t “a looker”, but I’ve never heard that mentioned…

To dress modestly says to the world, “I am honoring my own body by keeping it to myself. I don’t need your approval of my measurements, thankyouverymuch.”

2. Modesty says, “I am not competing with you.”

As I said at the start of this post, our biggest method of competition between women today is not brand names (though that could still be an Olympic sport) but body type. Just click on Pinterest once and you’ll see thousands of girls pinning tips on how to have that bod. If we needed one more reason to put our clothes back on, it could be as a bit of a olive branch to the fellow woman. Maybe your body fits this year’s qualifications of “perfect” and maybe (probably) it doesn’t, but women are said to look at each other’s bodies even more than men do, so stop worrying about lust and start worrying about envy. Love your body, enjoy your body, be happy with your body and, by all means take care of your body, but don’t ever use your body to put someone else down.

3. Modesty says, “I am more than a body.”

No one should ever feel they have the right to take advantage of your body, no matter how you’re dressed. It’s yours (and more importantly, God’s) and never “up for grabs,” whether you’re wearing drapes or nothing at all. However, the way we dress sends a message, be it true or false. Wear a burka and I’ll assume you’re Muslim, wear a habit and I’ll assume you’re a nun, wear a suit and I’ll assume you care, wear a stains and holes and I’ll assume you don’t. Call that “judgmental” if you wish, because it is in a sense–but it’s also sensical.

Dressing in a way that is seen as “modest” in whatever culture you find yourself in, gives people the message that you are not looking for a sexual partner or any sexual attention. It invites others to look you in the eye and get to know you–not just your shape. It says, “I have a body, but that’s not my most important feature.”

Lingerie has a place in this world, and it’s under your clothes. When you’re in public, think about what message you are sending about Christians by what you wear. Don’t obsess over it, don’t panic about it and don’t go to extremes out of fear of failure or sin. Our clothes are merely the shell of a shell. God looks at the heart and that’s way, way more important than the dress or even the body.

I love the end of of 1 Timothy 2:10, especially in The Voice translation,

“Women, the same goes for you: dress properly, modestly, and appropriately. Don’t get carried away in grooming your hair or seek beauty in glittering gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. Instead, as is fitting, let good works decorate your true beauty and show that you are a woman who claims reverence for God.”

It’s refreshing to think that this verse which has been, quite honestly, used to put women in the church down for many years, begins with “the same goes for you.” Paul wasn’t writing to Timothy’s church to segregate the sexes and put women in some legalistic box. He was writing to encourage them all in “good works.” He says that primping and brand names and glitter are all fleeting and unimportant, but that a woman’s true beauty is found in her reverence for God. That’s a win for gender equality if I ever saw one!

Put on your clothes, put on your honor, but “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:13) because, when your heart is beautiful, you’re already a complete masterpiece.

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on being “desperate”

 

desperate

Once upon a time, I swore I would never write about singleness. After all, nothing screams “desperate” quite like blogging about wishing you were married. However, in the past couple of years, I’ve received so much encouragement from my friends who are not ashamed of their relationship status and are bold enough to write about it, that I thought I could share my two cents without labeling myself too blatantly.

Since then, I’ve written about how singleness is not a disease and the real reason it’s hard being single. 

I defended myself in the first one. Singleness is not a disease…I am happy being single! In the second one, I confessed…it’s hard being single. Both are true. It seems that no matter how happy, fulfilled, busy, purposeful and content I am, there’s always an undercurrent of wishing I could marry. I don’t know yet if that’s a hidden form of discontent or a God-given instinct that will one day manifest itself in a real marriage or some of both, but it’s there nonetheless.

Still, the fear that I’ll seem “desperate” is so strong, it kicks the breath out of me at times. I feel like “single” is a name tag stuck in my hair. No amount of smiling and assuring people I’m happy will distract them from that sticky label.

What has surprised me most, however, is that as the years pass, I become happier and happier and more and more desperate. It’s true. The other night, I covered my face with my hands and cried real tears over this. I told God for the first time that I am, in fact, desperate. Desperate in the sense that I cannot shake this desire to be married, but it’s so much more than that. I’m desperate for God to write my story, whether it includes marriage or not.

Only He can fulfill me, only He knows what is best. I have become desperate, alright. Desperate to see Him move in my heart and my future. Desperate to know He’s working on this. Desperate to feel Him close when I feel lonely. Desperate to put all of this—the contentment and discontentment, the tears that come with a wrenching heart and the joy that makes me wonder why I’d ever want any other kind of life, all of this—into His competent hands.

I’m studying The Book of Numbers right now in my Bible study and it’s far from boring. Something really impressed me about Chapter 11, in which the wandering Israelites beg for meat. They “grumbled” and “wept” at the doors of their tents. In other words, they whined and complained to anyone who would listen, but they did not take their desires to God. When Moses could take no more, he addresses God in what sounds like an equally whiny and disrespectful speech:

Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15

His plea is sprinkled with questions of God’s faithfulness and the idea that the burden is entirely on Moses himself. You might think this is the point when God smites them all, Moses first. But that’s not the case. Though the people are punished, God takes mercy on Moses. He actually raises up seventy men to help bear the responsibilities as spiritual leader. God honors Moses for his honesty and the fact that he brought his weaknesses and needs to Him, instead of just complaining to his friends and family.

The people get what they asked for too, if you’re wondering. They get their meat. So much meat, that it oozes out of their nostrils (gross, huh?) and, “while it was still in their teeth,” it gives them a great plague and many die. The place where they fall is called Grave of Craving. Ouch.

That day in my Bible study notes, I jotted: “We can crave our way into the grave if we refuse to be satisfied by The Bread of Life.” 

Katie Davis, a missionary and woman of God I greatly admire, recently married. After living several years in Uganda as a single mom to fourteen, she finally has a husband (something she says she wanted all along) and a dad for her daughters. She writes,

“The Lord who knows my heart has been whispering to me of a new season for a long time, and my flesh has worried that this new season might take me out of my secret hiding place with Him, that somehow a physical, tangible relationship with another might take away from my relationship with my Builder, My Lover, My Life-Giver. Little did I know that this new relationship would only enhance the other.” (from Katie’s blog.)

My first thought was, “Yes! That’s what I want, too. I won’t settle for anything less than a marriage that enhances my relationship with God.” But later in the week, I started thinking about her words again, and I realized one horrific thing about my heart: There are moments when I would gladly trade my relationship with God for a “physical, tangle relationship.” And I don’t have the kind of relationship with “my Builder, My Lover, My Life-Giver” that would make me hesitant to receive a new relationship into my heart.

The words from the Rend Collective song came to mind almost immediately:

But I want to love You more
I need You God
But I want to need You more

I’m lost without
Your creative spark in me
I’m dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings

I’m desperate for a desperate heart
I’m reaching out, I’m reaching

All that I am is dry bones
Without You Lord, a desert soul
I am broken but running
Towards You God, You make me whole

You are exactly what we need
Only You can satisfy

Maybe I am desperate, but not even close to as desperate as I want to become. 

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