Tuesday, September 4, 2012

They Had A Purpose

      We all have a purpose--and you don't have to read that on a doilies in your great-grandmother's hallway to know it, either. Every single page of God's Word screams it, every word Christ spoke proclaims it. You have a purpose.
      We human beings have an incredible talent at looking at our situations, circumstances, and surroundings and allowing them to lessen us in our eyes. We're not hard on ourselves at all, or anything. We find, and then latch onto, the most ridiculous, miniscule details or faults, blowing them up to crazy proportions until you can't even see yourself behind them anymore. You are them. You become them. We invent excuses like, "Well, I'm just a girl" or, "I'm just a boy." We tell ourselves, "I'm too young" or "I'm 67, I'm too old!" When we have worn out our age and gender, we move on to physical appearance. "I'm just a little ole white lady!", "I'm so fat, though.", "I'm just a black kid.", etc. etc. We obsess over these unimportant external details, convincing ourselves that God is even more engrossed with them than we are. We sell ourselves short so many times because we honestly do not think that the Lord could have an incredible plan and purpose for someone who is just a girl or just a boy, someone who is so young or so old, someone who is white or too fat or black. And when I say "we", I actually mean "me". I, myself. I have an incredible talent at looking at my situations, circumstances, and surroundings and allowing them to lessen me in my eyes. I am hard on myself. I find, and then latch onto, the most ridiculous, miniscule details or faults, blowing them up to crazy proportions until I can't even see myself behind them anymore. I am them. I become them. Etc. etc.
       Do you really think, though, People Who Are Reading This Blog Post and Betsie, that God is at all confined or deterred by these ridiculous, miniscule details or faults? You don't think that God knows you're "just a girl" or "just a boy"? He made you to be so! He knew that you would be young at 12, or someday old at 67, and yet He still has a purpose for you. Still. Every single day, every single year. All your life. These ridiculous, miniscule details or faults do not ruin His plan--no, they are a part of it!
       I think a great example of God having a purpose for your life, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are, is the Roman soldier who nailed His Son, Jesus, to a cross. (Bear with me.) God created us. He knit us together in our mother's womb. He molded our hearts and taught them how to beat. He formed our lungs and breathed life into them. He has been planning our existence and creation out from the very beginning of time. Not only that, though, but He has also been planning our future and individual purposes before He even started the knitting and forming and molding! So, with all that said, don't you think that He knew when He created that Roman soldier, that some day, that very same soldier, would be a part of crucifying His only Son? He knew. He knew and could not forget, and yet He still created him. You read about all these times in the Old Testament when the Lord would send blazing lightning down from heaven to strike and instantly kill all these people just because they grazed the ark of the covenant. But when this Roman soldier pounded the nails into the Son of God's hands, He did nothing. Actually, He did do something: He kept that Roman soldier alive. While he was beating Jesus senseless, the Father continued to teach his heart how to beat. When he was spitting in the Messiah's face, mocking Him, the Lord kept breathing life into his lungs. God gave that Roman soldier the strength to crucify His own Son. Why? Why would He do that? Why did He even create any of those Roman soldiers in the first place?
      Because they had a purpose.
      I don't know what it was. I might get to heaven someday and see one of them there, completely redeemed and restored. Or maybe one of them fathered a man who led hundreds of people to Christ. I don't know what their purposes were, or the plans God had for them, but I know that they had a purpose, and I know that He had a plan for them.
      God is not confined or set back by your past or your race or your gender or your age. He made you just the way you are because He knew that your exact age and gender and race would help you to better accomplish the purpose and plan He has for just you. Nothing you can ever do or ever be will erase the fact that Christ has a wild plan for you. And it's going to happen either way, it's just more rewarding and enjoyable if you embrace it and walk out in boldness in it. It is yours. It cannot be taken away from you. Even if you are just a girl who is too young and white. Even if you are just a Roman soldier.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "D" Word

    It's a four-letter word, and the first letter is "D". If mentioned in my presence, it used to make me as extremely uncomfortable as I imagine you are right now reading about it. Yes, I'm talking about the word: DATE. *Cue the simultaneous cringes and happy "oohs" and "ahhs"*
    When I was younger, I was one of Those Girls. By the ripe old age of, um, fourteen, I had already read--multiple times, and highlighted--Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliott, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello To Courtship by Joshua Harris, plus numerous anti-dating devotionals that all earned eye rolls from my older sister.  Now, you can't consume that many books on relationships without forming your own opinion on the subject. And I did just that, at the ripe old age of fourteen. Obviously, they were very vague, but yet complicated; logical, but really ridiculous; and all of them inspired solely by Mr. Harris, and Fear.
    At fourteen, I was afraid of love.
    Well, I was not terrified of love itself; just its consequences and affects. I saw so many girls around me with big dreams and beautiful desires for their life sacrificing it all and settling for a boy who would win them, use them, and eventually discard them within the span of mere months. Those girls and their choices made me angry and aspire to be a feminist outwardly. However, inwardly, those girls and their choices scared me and made convent life suddenly look very appealing. Those girls scared me because they and I were not all that different. In fact, I saw those girls inside of me. I could easily become that, do that. Sacrifice it all, settle. What was most frightening of all was that I knew that if I ever did, I would be truly content in that lifestyle.
    Thus I invented my lofty, super-spiritual anti-dating views. I hid behind them like a soldier would behind a barricade for more than two years. Two years I defended them, pushed them on everyone else and their parents. For two years I was not even open to examining my views and asking myself honestly, "Is this right?" because I was right, date it!
     I wasn't, though. Not even close.
     Now, I believe, like Elisabeth Elliott and Joshua Harris, that we are created to love one person (or three, in Mrs. Elliott's case), and to be loved by one person. Or, you can be super cool like Paul, never get married, and just love everyone in a platonic way. Either way, loving someone is involved. But anyways. I think that true love waits, and so we should wait on the Lord to write our love stories because He already has, after all, and it's so much better when we allow Him to orchestrate it. I know that the Lord's love for us is jealous, and that His will for us is to wait and give ourselves only to the young man (or not so young, if you're a character in a Jane Austen novel), one of His sons, that He has specifically raised up to love you like He loves you. I don't think that any of these views are necessarily wrong in the least, but God does not only look at our views and opinions. He looks at our motives. ("People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives." -Proverbs 16:2)  That's exactly what He did, too, a few Sunday nights ago after my youth pastor caught me off-guard with a heart interrogation. He maybe asked me five questions in total, but those five questions of his inspired fifty of my own. My views on dating (or rather, the absence of dating) were not necessarily wrong, but were my motives behind them right? Well, if Christ said that "there is no fear in love" but rather, "perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment" and "the one who is in fear is not made in perfect love" (1 John 4:18), weren't my motives, which were solely fear, wrong? Why was I afraid? Because I had not yet grasped the concept that I was made in perfect love because I am loved by a perfect God! Perfect love casts out all fear because with perfect love, there is no punishment. I am Christ's, He bought me with His blood, and nothing I could ever possibly do--even something as horrific as sacrificing it all and settling for some suave bum--could ever possibly make me any less of Christ's or make him love me any less. There is pure freedom in Christ's love. We don't have to possess complicated, super-spiritual views. We don't have to try--and fail--to earn our salvation or God's love. We don't have to walk through life with timidity, building up impenetrable walls around our new, God-given hearts because we are afraid that if anyone truly sees them, they will say that they're not new at all. They are new, you're new. You're going forward, not back. There is grace and mercy.
     I know that Elisabeth Elliott's view on courting, which she wrote about in her book Passion & Purity, sparked a controversial war in 2002 on what is classified as "appropriate dating" for Christians that is still going on ten years later. I don't expect anything I say to ever end that war, either. But I can end the war within myself between my heart and mind, and I can say to myself, It doesn't have to be so complicated. You don't have to settle, and your actions don't have to be governed by a fear of doing just that. I thought I knew everything there is to know about dating when I was fourteen. I'm seventeen now, and I'm realizing that I knew absolutely nothing because what God is showing me is so much simpler and freer and innocent than I ever imagined it could be. My view on dating now is that when the Lord tells me to date someone, I will. (Happily.) But until He does, I won't. The end. He doesn't want of or require of me a bestseller relationship theology book. All He wants of me is that I will run hard after Him, that I will always pursue Him. And as I pursue Him, someday, the Lord will raise up a man to pursue me. Someday, as I run hard and fast after God, I will look to either my left or right, and I will see a man who is running beside me, keeping the same pace and headed in the same direction. It will be right then, and we will join hands as we run together hard and fast after the God who made us so.

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases." -Song Of Solomon 3:5