Consume Me

.

It’s easy to tell what most occupies my thoughts and feelings because that is my most frequent and passionate topic of conversation.  I love my job, and I spend a lot of time there, so sometimes when I’m talking with my friends, I have to hold myself back because I realize that they probably aren’t all that interested in the finer points of classical ballet technique.  More often than not, though, my conversation starts with, “So, have you had any dates lately?” and ends with whining about still being single.  I’ve found that at my lowest points, I have become completely eaten up by the difficulties of singleness that I have no room left for communion with Christ.  My desire for marriage has become a gilded statue that I’ve set up in my heart, and when I retreat into my thoughts, the first thing I do is kneel at that shrine of desire.  I’ve got to take down that idol and put the Lord back on the throne, and that involves going to the cross and dying to desire.

Here’s the kicker: desiring marriage is natural and completely legitimate, but I need to ask myself these questions.  Is it something that is impinging upon my faith in the Lord?  Is it causing me to doubt His goodness or sovereignty, His grace or mercy?  Is it something that I desire above holiness?  Is it something I desire more than God’s glory in me?  Then I have to die to that desire.  Not in the sense that it may never be fulfilled, though that is a possibility I should consider.  But in the sense that I need to get rid of the things that are holding me back from full fellowship with the Lord, from knowing, loving, and serving Him wholeheartedly.  Singleness becomes a burden when I carry it myself and hold onto it instead of rolling it over to onto the Lord.  I need to allow Him to consume my desire so that I can be consumed by Him.

“How do you do that?” one might well ask.  Certainly I don’t have this one nailed down.  But I guess the best thing I can say is that surrender involves trust.  It is easy to sit in church and sing “I surrender, I am Yours.” But is that only because I think He will give me what I want?  Or maybe because the music is inspiring?  Real surrender means I am His regardless of where He takes me and what He gives or doesn’t give me.  It means my marital state is His too.  Because if I say “I surrender all” and I mean it, then I am His to do with as He wills.  He is in charge of my life.

So fancy words and high-minded ideas of surrender aside, what it boils down to is a moment by moment battle with my mind and heart.  Every time I find myself thinking about/obsessing over/fantasizing about a future mate, I’ve got to take that thought and desire and tell the Lord it’s His.  Verbally, if need be.  I’ve got to tell Him every day that I trust His plan and accept what He has in store for me that day. I must elevate my desire for God above my desire for marriage.  I do that by spending time in His word, in worship, in prayer.  It’s not easy.  My flesh fights it.  I would so much rather make myself miserable pining over dreams of a romantic future than tell the Lord I love Him and want Him to use me for His glory.  He didn’t promise it would be easy.  He did say it would be good.  Lord, consume my desires so that I can be consumed by You.

Advertisements

Blindness and Blessing

As I was doing my Bible study this morning, I came across this question: “How do you feel God singing a song of love over you?”  Usually when I read things like this, I have a Sunday school response that pops into my head, “Jesus died on the cross for me.”  But today, I’m ashamed to say, my first thought was of my material blessings: my fabulous apartment, a functioning car, family and friends who love me, a job I can’t wait to get to each day.  I was immediately taken aback.  I am such an American!  I think God loves me because I have things that make me happy and comfortable.  Which is why, when I get in a funk about being single, sometimes I wonder if God is taking as good care of me as He should, or if He really loves me if He is withholding the blessing of a mate. 

I started thinking more about blessings, and how the Bible says that we have every spiritual blessing in Christ.  And how I equate comfort with joy, and blessing with having what I want.  I thought about how I don’t really thank God for the spiritual blessings I have in Christ because they are often so intangible.  I mean, I can see my apartment and my car, I can touch my family.  But eternal life?  Righteousness in Christ?  I know I have these things, but I don’t often take time to experience them on more than an intellectual level.   What would that even look like?

What if all these tangible blessings were taken away?  I would be no less blessed in Christ than I am now.  What if I had the additional blessing of a mate?  I would be no more blessed in Christ than I am now.  Not that I shouldn’t be thankful for and enjoy the material things God has given me, but they are not the proof of God’s love for me.  The cross of Jesus is.  What if I experience desiring the blessing of a mate so that my appreciation of the spiritual blessings God has given me is sharpened?  Like a blind person, whose other senses are sharpened because one is missing.  They are keenly aware of the most minute sounds and their fingers become sensitive enough to read what appears to be a complex system of bumps because they are not distracted by sight.  As I am going through life alone, how am I more keenly aware of God’s presence and help? 

Would I be more attuned to my spiritual blessings with a mate, or would he be a hindrance to me experiencing the richness of God’s love for me?  Does my desire for a husband drive me to seek pleasure and fulfillment in God, or am I trying to find satisfaction in earthly things?