I have a confession to make â€“ I am a self-professed â€œhopeless romantic.â€ Itâ€™s true. My family knows it. My friends know it. I am one of those rare guys that actually enjoys those sappy romantic comedies. (case in point: yesterday I bought and watched How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) And you know what? Iâ€™m alright with it. Really I am. Iâ€™m comfortable in my identity in Christ and I am also comfortable with my sexuality to know that it is okay to enjoy these films, within reason of course. Now donâ€™t get me wrong, some of these films irritate the heck out of me and I would, almost, always go with an action or a big sweeping epic before going with a clichÃ© â€œchickâ€ flick.
But I bring this up, not to simply let you in on a part of my life, but to share with you something I have been learning over the years. To be honest, I donâ€™t feel like I have a lot to offer here (that is advice about dating, courting or whatever the heck you want to call it), because I have dropped the ball many times. I have dropped the ball enough to toy with the thought of writing a book entitled, the misadventures of dating: life lessons learned about what not to do. I canâ€™t say that Iâ€™ve had any publishers banging down the door to get a hold of the manuscript for that one, but through the few misadventures Iâ€™ve had, Iâ€™ve continued to learn about trusting God with every area of my life. Yes, even the opposite sex. And I hope that sooner or later, my misadventures will pay off and Iâ€™ll actually do something right, by Godâ€™s grace, and end up in the relationship and partnership with the woman Iâ€™ve prayed for for years, again by Godâ€™s grace, because Iâ€™ve seen I need a ton of it!
Iâ€™ve been noticing it continues to get harder to trust God with this area of my life! You would think as time goes by, and I grow in a deeper love relationship with Christ that it might be easier. In some ways it does but in other ways it doesnâ€™t. I canâ€™t tell you how many phone calls Iâ€™ve got in the past 3 years going something like this, â€œDid you hear so and so just got engaged?â€ I sometimes want to respond, â€œNo I didnâ€™t and in fact it would be better if you had never told me. Thanks! Now Iâ€™m going to go wallow in my singleness!â€ Iâ€™m not that bitter, well not all the time anyway. So life situations of friends getting married and then friends having kids and me being very single doesnâ€™t make things easier, but I continue to learn what it means to trust God with every, and I mean every, detail of life.
I donâ€™t know what led to this blog entry. Maybe because it is springtime and the blossoms being in bloom. Maybe its because nearly every cd that I have got in recent months has some sweet love song, which I love, on it! Seriously I can listen to these songs over and over, but I try not to. Needless to say, I am here writing this, so there is no turning back. I donâ€™t even want to talk about dating or this or that. But what I want to hit on is trusting God in the midst of this particular season of life that I am still within â€“ singleness.
Iâ€™ve witnessed within others, and within my own heart, a lack of ability to trust the Lord in their, and our, season of life of singleness. Iâ€™ve been part of relationships that were rushed and forced, simply because of an anxiousness to get there, to get to the so-called â€œpromised landâ€ of marriage, which Iâ€™m learning isnâ€™t always flowing with milk and honey. But often has seasons of droughts and then terrible seasons of floods, yet this is the â€œpromised landâ€ of marriage that I look forward to, the day-to-day adventure of the ups and downs of doing life, and ministry with my future wife. The idea of marriage has been an idol in my life that Iâ€™ve worshipped time and time again. It is great to have the desire to be married some day, but when it consumes us and then leads us to rush into relationships, that leave a wake of broken hearts behind, often times including our own.
But some might say, â€œWhat does the Bible really say about this?â€ If you hop in your car and go to your Christian bookstore you most likely will find a whole section of authors who think they have cracked the Bibleâ€™s code on dating or courting or whatever you want to call it. The pendulum really does swing hard one way or the other. Should we follow Pastor Harrisâ€™ advice and kiss dating goodbye? Or should we follow Dr. Cloud advice and date as exercise of discovering ourselves? To be honest with you, I donâ€™t know. Both of these schools of thought are clashing in my mind, and to be honest â€“ I often just want to chuck both! There isnâ€™t a code that we must crack to figure out the whole relationship question.
I truly believe it comes down to one thing. And this one thing goes for those of us who are single or married. Whether we are wrestling with decisions about relationships or decisions of what we will do with our days tomorrow. I truly believe it comes down to trusting that God has His best in mind for us, even if that looks different from what we may have wanted.
Iâ€™ve planned and thought I had things all figured out, whether it be on the relationship front or the what I would be doing the rest of my life front (NOTE: Iâ€™ve failed in both these areas of life many, many times), and to be honest with you, God was on the outside of those plans looking in. Sure they had a thin veneer of God on top, but that was me trying to spiritualize my plans to pass them off to others. Does these mean that we donâ€™t plan? No! Now here me out, plans and planning arenâ€™t a bad thing. It is how we plan that needs to be taking into account. Solomon wrote this in Proverbs 16:9, â€œThe heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.â€(ESV) Do we believe that God establishes our steps? I want to believe it. If we truly believed this truth then it would change our relationship with God, with others, the way we plan and ultimately our lives, wouldnâ€™t it? We throw verses like these around, but do we really believe them? Are we okay with God taking care of the details? Or are we going to kick and scream when God doesnâ€™t give us things just as we wanted them?
Not so long ago, I thought I had things all worked out in my mind. I truly believed that this particular girl was it. I was head over heals from the minute I met her. It wasnâ€™t long after meeting her, when I had my plans established. In my mind, we would be engaged by this date, then we would be married by this date and then live happily ever after. Then it all came crashing down with a conversation that I never expected to come. Now I was planning. And I thought that I had planned unto the glory of God and according to his will. So what was the problem? The answer comes from the pen of King David, â€œThe steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.â€ (Psalm 37:23, ESV)
Did you catch it? The verse is similar to the Proverbs verse from above, but David went one step further. What I had done wrong was that I didnâ€™t delight in the Lord within the plans I was making, and the life stage I was in. I was blinded by what could be, if onlyâ€¦ I wasnâ€™t enjoying God. I was enjoying the end results of those plans that I had set my heart on, while leaving God on the sidelines and not delighting in Him.
I subconsciously thought that I could micromanage my love life better than the God of this universe could. Like I was bigger than the God â€œwho works all things according to the counsel of his will.â€ (Eph. 1:11) God is indeed the greatest of all playwrights, weaving his amazingly beautiful story of redemption through each of our lives so that in the end He receives the paramount of glory. Now why would I ever rush the most skilled playwright? I am like an actor within the story that is screaming for the third act but I havenâ€™t even got through the first. So I become like the â€œdaughters of Jerusalemâ€ who are stirring up and awakening love when it isnâ€™t time. (Song of Solomon 3:5). Or I become like the Gentiles who chase after what we will wear, or where will get our next plate of food; all the while, not seeking Him who provides.(Matthew 7:25-34) I become one that isnâ€™t enjoying where I am in the story and surely I only look with distain at the playwright because things are moving too slow. May God change my heart, our hearts, to trust Him to and to trust the story that He has written. It is only within delighting in Him and where we are in the story that we will live the abundant life that Jesus has promised those that will journey in relationship with Him. So I am going to trust Him, and the story He has written and enjoy life, take risks, and glorify Him in the midst of all of it.
I also wanted to direct you to an article over at RelevantMagazine.com I read this morning and really hit me about the subject of love. Here is a portion that I liked. For the rest of the article click here.
If our relationships with the opposite sex are supposed to mirror our relationship with God, then I donâ€™t think there is a formula. When God romanced me, love came softly while I was still a kid, and eventually grew into an out-of-control romance.
Yet when God romanced the Apostle Paul, He knocked him off his horse and blinded him with light. Talk about fireworks. For me love came softly and for Paul love came violently and for others it may be a combination of the two.