Sometimes when it is late at night and I am all alone, or when it is in the middle of the day, such as now and I am bored and hungry or when I am happy and full of energy, I start to thinking. I start feeling like I could just settle, settle for whatever life throws at me. I wonder if it would be easier just to give in to the wind, instead of fighting against it. You know, its pretty hard to fight against the wind; it blows aimlessly and knocks out whoever it will. And if by chance, you prevail and it does not overtake you, and you get to the other side, and there is no wind or storms, or hot coals for that matter, who is to say that is what you really wanted, what you really needed to restore your life back to…sanity.
I wonder would it be easier to just lower my standards. Why must I strive for the best and not settle for anything less than spectacular? Why cannot I just give my love, my heart to the next thing that comes along? Who cares if he will lie and cheat, and steal my heart away from the very God I love, at least I would have one. Who cares if he is not everything I hoped for, everything I dreamed of, at least he’s real. At least he would make me feel like a woman, like I am alive, or maybe he would snuff out every breath in this wretched body, and though I go on living, I am dying inside, apathetic and cold to this broken world. Who’s to say…if I would settle? But I know better than that, at least I think I do.
I know there is a better life than heartache and pain and tears and turmoil. Not because I have necessarily experienced it, much less seen it but because I have heard of stories of people who put their faith in a God that we cannot see and honestly a God that we do not always feel. Of people who wait patiently and diligently for him sometimes for lifetimes and though its not immediate, they reap the benefits of trusting, of waiting, and of yielding to him instead of our fickle desires which change as frequently as the seasons, here today and gone tomorrow. I know his promises, I know his commands, but some things they are hard to see, when everyone else around me seems to have everything and more. They are getting married, and having babies, and hooking up, and falling in love and I am here not even close to any of those things because the ones that want me, I should not be with and the ones that I am interested in do not even know my name. (‘Round and ‘round and round we go. Will he ever know?) I wonder sometimes if it is just a cruel joke or if God is just instilling patience and trust in me, knowing that I can handle it, knowing that though it may shake me, I will not break.
As alluring as it appears to be, I know the consequences of settling. I see the effects of it in my family, my culture, my country. Generations of divorce and separation, families torn apart and destroyed, lives accumulating to absolutely nothing because people could not just wait for God to move in their lives and instead choose to play Him or force His hand. You may think that I am being extreme, it is harsh, but it is nevertheless more true. Going to a Bible college, I saw this truth played out in its worst forms. You may think that people going to Bible college would make wiser decisions about who they choose to marry, about who they will spend the rest of their lives with and sometimes this true but often it is not because instead of using their heads and the Spirit of God to govern their decisions, their hormones take over and settle for the first one who shows interest, just because they are saved. And sometimes it works, and sometimes their decisions are lead by the Spirit of God, but sometimes God is not in it even though they claim that he is. Even then God still blesses as His Word says He rains on both the just and the unjust, and he still shows us favor when we make foolish decisions, but just imagine if we waited on him instead of trying to force him to move.
Imagine if Abraham would have waited instead of settling for whatever came along. Abe was a man who lived a long time ago, long before there were cars and carriages, and long before women wore high heels and men wore diamond studs in their ears. He was a man that God called out from his family, out from the land that he knew to become a father of many nation, of many kindred, and of many people groups. And Abe trusted God, he believed that he would fulfill the promises that he had made to him. There was only one problem; Abe’s wife Sarah was barren, she had never produced offspring and chances were slim that she would in her old age, past her child bearing years. And so, Sarah took matters into her own hands, she gave her handmaiden to Abraham to conceive a son, so that God’s promise would be fulfilled. The affects? Well, even though Abe took matters into his own hands, God still blessed, he still fulfilled his promise. Though they were old, 90 and 100 years old to be exact, they still had a son of their own and named his Isaac. And Isaac had two sons, Israel and Esau, and Israel’s sons became the fathers of the twelve tribes of the Jewish nation. God lived up to his side of the bargain and blessed even though Abe and Sarah settled for less than God’s best.
But whatever came of that child that Sarah’s handmaiden bore. Sarah actually became jealous of him and had him along with his mother sent away, not wanting him to share in Isaac’s inheritance. But in the end, God blessed that child too. Ishmael, like Isaac, became the father of a great people. I have heard it said that his descendants are those of the Arabs today, but I find that statement a little too lofty and a little too insensitive. But what if Abe would not have settled? Could other nation’s relations with the Middle East be quite a bit more peaceful if they had? Just a little something to think about.
So this is my struggle, and although I have been obedient, and I have not settled, the battle gets more intense and more severe each and every day. Some days I do just fine, but then there are others when this feeling of loneliness and wantonness creeps up on me and almost overtakes me, and although it does not, I wonder how much longer I can persist and not fold. I know that it is not something that I can handle on my own but that I need people around me to help lift me up. Sometimes people think that they can handle what they are going through on their own when in actuality they cannot, and if they cannot, I cannot either,
The thing about it is that people think it is better to hold what they are struggling with in thinking that it is better to maintain an appearance of superiority and excellence, when those things are only a mask of something that I have come to affectionately call pride. The whole purpose for people, for relationships, for community is that God knows that on our own, we cannot do anything and that we not only need his Spirit but that we need the arms and prayers of those around us to lift us up before him. It requires vulnerability and it requires humility, both of which do not come easy.
As I write this, convicted myself because I was not allowing the body of Christ to be to me what I needed, I shared my struggle, my stronghold with a prayer group that I am in, knowing that if I did, I would surely find healing as a result of obeying God’s Word. As I voiced my concern, I felt utterly stupid, thinking that no one cared and that what I had to say, what I was going through was just not important enough. Sometimes we tend to think that once we obey the Lord, the enemy immediately shuts up, but most often he does not and instead continues to throw accusatory remarks and lies, hoping that there is still a chance that we get sidetracked and disobey.
I have never been a huge fan of the sport or hobby, if you will, of juggling. As much as it is intruging to see clowns or whoever else juggle 3 or more objects between two hands without letting them touch the ground, I have never been so persuaded to try to perform the act myself, at least I was not until recently not because I developed an interest but simply because that was how life happened for me. At first I did not notice because I only had one object in my hand but as I grew older, life added more, something that I guess I expected but was not completely prepared for. At first it was just school, easy enough to keep in the air, then it became school and work, then it became school, work and friends, and then it became school, work, friends, career, family, finances, future, relationships and so much more; all of which made me want to let everything drop and land as they would. It is really quite humorous, rewarding, and stressing at the same time. At one moment I am rejoicing because all of the balls seem to be staying in the air, almost effortlessly. But then one drops and it must cause some type of domino effect until everything is everywhere and I am stuck in the middle of it, wondering if I can really do this thing. I wonder can I really excel in the things that I believe God has called me to even when everything else around me fails. I mean, I see my family falling apart and I see people all around me giving up their dreams; what makes me so special to think that I can reach mine. And as if to make matters worse, things in my life compound on top of one another threatening my sanity, threatening my life.
Sometimes I wonder if fighting this hard is really worth it. Is it really worth pursing things in life in a manner that honors God instead if giving into fleshly desires like everyone else seems to be doing? Is it worth waiting for the man of God that God has created just for me instead of going out and finding whoever I want, knowing that God may see fit not to fulfill that desire of mine. Is it worth doing business well, and deciding not to rip people off, knowing very well that someone may decide to do that to me. Is it worth treating people with love and respect, the way that I myself would like to be treated knowing that when push comes to shove, that is not the way that most people will treat me.
A lot of Christians think that just by serving Christ there is guaranteed happiness, freedom, and prosperity and in a limited sense this is true. I used to be one of those people who thought this way, thinking that everyday would be full of sunshine and butterflies and strawberries and a plethora of good things. If this is the case then, I have to stop and wonder why life does not look like this for people all around the world serving Christ do not get butterflies, strawberries, and sunshine but instead experience famine, darkness and sword. If life in Christ is to be pleasant and roses, then why are Christians in China in hiding and why are students who stand up for what they believe in shot and killed before they are given the opportunity to realize their dreams or why is that faithful mother of five stuck on welfare even though she obeys the principles of God’s Word. Is it because these persons have not truly grasped the truth of the Gospel and so reap the consequences of not doing so, but if this is the case, I must question you about certain persons such as Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, James, John, Luke, and so many others who not only lived but died for their faith. Did they too miss it, or are we just not getting it. I do not think that I have yet to understand all that this life in Christ means because I am stuck questioning myself if it is worth it or not to relinquish everything that I so desperately try to hold just to follow him. Maybe these things are not what life is all about; maybe they are not the things that truly matter. As sin soaked and disease stricken as this world is, it offers absolutely nothing that we can carry into the next. It is not our home, or goal and so why do we spend our lives trying to make sense and meaning out of something that will never last. With this in mind, for me, fighting becomes worth it, because not to fight would mean surrendering to a world that is not mind to have and a future that I am not guaranteed.