Today at work as I weighed out the coffee beans to make a large pot of coffee, I was struck by how beautiful the dark oval beans looked in the crisp white filter. The fluted edging of the coffee filter made the beans appear to look like the center of a flower. So simple and so beautiful.
The moments pause to notice the small thing of coffee beans in a filter stuck with me all day. Why? Why was I so drawn to a simple picture? I delighted in the beauty of those coffee beans. They were meaningless and about to be ground into powder with boiling water shot through them until they were a goopy mess. And yet, here I was excited about the way coffee beans looked in a filter.
To me purposeless, but maybe not to Him.
What if I’m drawn to the small things because He is? I’ve been praying to understand not just in my head, but in my heart, a Father who delights in me because I’m His, and not just in what I can do for Him. Perhaps I notice the small things and delight in them because He’s showing me the way He delights not just in my big wins, but in my small quiet moments too.
I do not understand the Father’s timing, nor what brings Him the most glory – but I’m learning to trust Him in the process.
“Nevertheless, Let us go to him…”
This one thing I do know – the Lord always comes. Always. How or when He comes is what grows our belief. He is worthy of our wait, and of our trust.
Have you heard of Sara Hagerty or “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet”? She posts these delicious verses and graphics daily on Facebook and Instagram. Check her out!
‘Let us go to him’ is Day #4 of ‘In Deep’ – a 31 Days Series
On the weekends, I’m going to be practicing on my blog something we are all learning to do at the Discipleship House – rest. So even though I’ll still be publishing a blog each day, on Saturday and Sunday I’ll posting a simple quote or picture. Below is perhaps my favorite quote on honor. It’s from Danny Silk and it translates so well to the relational side of discipleship.
“The Heart of Honor” is Day #3 of “In Deep” A 31 Days Series
I dyed my hair this morning. I didn’t do it out of rebellion (at least not in the traditional sense), nor did I do it for any spiritual reason. I wasn’t even going to post about it on social media for a bit until I saw this week’s Friday writing prompt was “Blue”. The same color I had just highlighted through my long brunette hair. Thoughts chased each other through the tangles in my mind much longer than my wavy tresses.
I deeply love color. Differing hues and shades or bright contrasts have a way of making my heart sing. Color and beauty are the hidden treasures of life for me. But somehow in my love of color I still want God to be black and white.
Something I can easily understand, grasp, and define. And –gulps – Something/Someone I can control. As much as I want Him to be all or nothing on a topic, the Father often embodies both. Jesus didn’t come just in grace, or just in truth. He came in both grace and truth (John 1). There is free will and He is also Sovereign. Scripture tells me to earnestly seek answers and wisdom, and yet I’m also asked to trust Him in the unknown. These concepts tangle my mind in such knots and if my hair knotted that intensely I would cut it off!
I think of black and white as opposite ends of the spectrum – they almost stand alone. Perhaps a more accurate description of them is that they are the boundaries and stability for the whole pallet of colors that lie between them. Black and white are where color begins and ends. They aren’t meant to be stand alone colors (or lack of color), but backdrops so that the other colors are seen more clearly.
Life is messy and I haven’t found a way around that. But maybe I’m not supposed to. Beautiful colors are created in the mess of two different and opposite colors being smashed together. How much beauty do I miss when I insist that that the Lord be only one way or another? (And who am I to tell Him how it should be?) In my stubbornness I’m trying to limit Him to only painting the scenes of my life with black and white because I can understand them. Yet how boring a life and a painting that would be! Trying to limit the Father’s color pallet is like trying to put a rainbow in box. (Have you ever tried to put a rainbow in a box !?)
I serve a God who is clothed in rainbows of color and depths of mystery. And at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade that for a God I could control. I love color too much. Perhaps, just perhaps, the messiness of life is His invitation to know more of Him – beauty in different depths of color.
And so the Lord can use random writing prompts and even blue strands of hair to remind me that I do love His crazy and unpredictable side. And that He loves mine too.
I’ve honestly lost count of how many weddings I’ve been involved in! Cake, flowers, coordinating, serving/catering, bridesmaid – I even played piano once! (I’ve gotta be close to 27 Dresses!) In all of these weddings I’ve only had a date once. Once, ya’ll. And that date was a blast! But the other weddings were fun too. I’m not knocking that dates aren’t wonderful – they are. But going solo can also be wonderful. I’ve cried my fair share of tears over the years at going to yet another wedding alone, so I’m not here to condemn you friend, or tell you to buck up. Bring the tissues and I’ll cry with you.
My heart for this post is to offer you some hope and practical keys that have helped turn RSVPing to weddings from dread to joy for me.
Check. # in party? 1.
- Buy a new dress (or suit). Seriously. Going to a wedding in your old stand bys might be economical, but if you are able to- buy, thrift, or borrow a new outfit. Do something a little new to feel beautiful/handsome and boost your own confidence a little. Showing up at a wedding feeling drab, will only make you feel more gloomy. It is not a sin to feel good about yourself, and singleness is not a punishment! If you go feeling confident and on top of the world, your whole perspective will change.
- Look around for someone else who is alone. Maybe standing in the corner watching, or eating cake at the table alone. I love dancing with a passion, but it can get real painful, real quick, to watch the floor fill up with couples. Rather than moaning at the lack of single guys at weddings, or guys with the courage to ask girls to dance, I’ve taken to going over and asking another single gal to dance. I promise them I’ll be the cutest guy they will dance with all night. The joy on their face as I clumsily twirl them around brings me incredible joy. And in a flash we are having to much fun to think about being alone!
- Leave if you need too. Yep, there is this thing called grace friends. If we are having a hard time, give yourself the grace to leave. I wouldn’t advise that this become a habit, because there is joy to be found, but taking a walk during the slow dances, or bouquet toss is ok. 🙂 It’s also ok to cry. I give you permission!
- Find a way to serve. Busy hands create camaraderie, and a sense of belonging and joy in giving to others. As a wedding coordinator, I always need help – esp a clean up crew! Ask whomever is in charge what you can do, or offer to help the bride ahead of time.
- Keep a moldable heart before the Lord. He may want to change your perspective, or to comfort you. Either way, He will show you Himself. One of the perspective changes I needed to have was to realize that this day was not about me. It was about learning to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’. Spend time in the word and with the Lord before you leave for the wedding.
- Use the flexibility of resources (time/money) that you have as a single to do or give something creative to the couple. Invest in them and the excitement will grow (Esp if your love language is gifts or acts of service.)
- Last but not least – ignore the grey hairs. Yep. The thing I hate the most about singleness? – Grey hairs. I always wanted to be a young bride but these days the silver wisdom of life is starting to streak through my long ebony hair. Trying to pluck them all out before a wedding is not a good idea. Ahheem I’ won’t say how I know this, but I’ll leave you to laugh at that mental picture. (It hurt!)
Solo does not mean less than. It means solo. It means you have been given an incredible opportunity to bless others, and in the process be blessed. I’ve been given incredible chances to minister and impact people for the Kingdom because I’ve gone to events solo. Chances I would not have had if I had a date. It’s worth it, if you make it worth it.
Being Single and Fully Alive today means that I do not wait to enjoy weddings. I’ve wanted to have a choreographed dance at my own wedding someday for years. And maybe I still will, but for now? Why not have a choreographed dance now? The time to live is today. So my real life example of # 6 was doing this dance at my sister’s wedding in lue of a toast. White Christmas fans, you will appreciate it. 🙂 (Email subscribers – view it here)
“7 Tips to Thriving Solo at Weddings“ is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read more from this series please click here.
Just because you won’t date him, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t valiDATE him, honoring him in your heart and with your speech. <—- Click to Tweet. I’d be a millionaire if I got $1 for every time I’ve heard a girl say “there are just no good guys around here”. I used to say it myself until the day I saw the destruction it caused. Defeat, anger, and pain flashed across my friend’s face, as I watched him react to the knife this woman’s careless, lamenting words had driven through him.
He was a good guy, a godly guy, he just wasn’t her guy, nor did he want to be. At almost 27 and not dating, I’m aware of the dating issues in our culture caused by both men and women not stepping up. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t stepping up, or if we feel there are no good “guys or gals” left around. Christ calls us to love and respect each other – in EVERY kind of relationship and interaction.
We love, respect, honor, and are gentle with each other because we love Jesus and He loves us. That’s it. Honor, love and respect have little to do with other person’s merit. The way we treat each other should be based on the Kingdom of God, not on how we feel about the other person.
There are good guys out there. I’m honored to know quite a few of them. When a guy is told that there are “no good guys” left, it can crush their desire to become more of a godly man. It dismisses who they are now, and the potential they have in Christ.*
Ladies, even if we never say “there are no good guys left” out loud, thinking it WILL effect the way we relate to the guys around us. Thinking there are no good guys left might seem like a natural response to hurt we have received, or to the lack of dating activity in our lives, but quite frankly, it’s sin.
This sin is something the Lord has convicted me so strongly of in the past few years. It’s sin, because it does not encourage or build up our brothers in Christ, and in our minds, it puts us as above the guys around us. We would be terribly hurt if our worthiness as a women or wife potential was constantly belittled to others. Scripture is clear about how we should treat each other:
“encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thess. 5:11
Thinking there are no good guys left, keeps us seeing guys for what they are not, rather than who they are. They are redeemed sinners, loved, heirs of Christ – WITH US! Critiquing guys in general because we do not have one sets us in a place of judgment. To judge another man’s servant is not for us to do. If we know at least one Christian* guy, than there are good guys left.
I realize that when we as women, say that there “are no good guys left” what we are really trying to say is that we do not know anyone right now whom we would consider dating or marrying. Well that’s ok, because there are different stokes for different folks. There are a lot of good men, and we will most likely only marry one. So let’s honor all of them? Because the rest are other people’s future husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers. And most importantly, lets honor and validate them in our thoughts and speech because that is how Jesus does it. All of our relationships and interactions should be about one thing – The Kingdom of God.
For practical tips on how to validate the guys around us, continue reading
Until Christ returns there will be desires and longings – so what do we do with them? We let them focus us, satisfy us, humble us, and bring us hope. (Miss the rest of the series? Read here)
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16
Our existence on this earth is temporary – let us welcome the redemption of God, looking towards the city He is preparing for us. When our longing is focused on the eternal purposes, God is not ashamed to be called our God! What a statement!
There is one desire we have that never goes unsatisfied – the desire for the Lord, and that is a desire that need never go unfulfilled. He ALWAYS gives us Himself. In not giving us everything we want, or think we need, the Lord often shows us He is the only one that truly and completely satisfies. Ask anyone who is married more than two years, has won the lottery, or got their dream job – ask them if those things are still fully satisfying them – they don’t.The only thing worse than longing, is having what we want, and still being unhappy. <—- Tweet this
The Lord in His mercy allows us to long for good things, to teach us He alone fulfills, sustains, and brings us joy.Longing prepares us to handle what the Lord wants to bless us with. He won’t compete with His creation, and He knows that until our longings have been purified in surrender, we will worship His blessings and creation over Him. This is where idolatry is born.
He may withhold from us what we desire – but He gives us freely what will satisfy. <—- Tweet this.
Psalm 107:9 says: “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
One of the names of God is El Shaddai – the All Sufficient One. We serve a God who very name means Enough! He is enough for us.
“He is indeed Enough. He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all sufficiency.” Elisabeth Elliot – Keep a Quite Heart
Will you let Him be enough? He is longing for you.
Oh how we need Him! Longings are managed only before the throne. We are called to be living sacrifices, and the problem with living sacrifices is that we can crawl off the altar. The process of surrendering our desires to the Lord is humbling because it can be a daily, or moment-by-moment, choice to trust. Longings have a way of taking us to the end of our selves, the end of our endurance. At the end of us is the beginning of Him. In humility and repentance is strength for the journey, and the most beautiful promise of grace. (James 4:6)
If you’ve ever longed for something, you know how true this Proverb is: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I’m not sure I’ve done well explaining the Lord’s goodness and compassion in our longings, but I’m not sure I can friends! It’s something you must experience – something intimate that happens just between you and Him, before His throne. We talked a lot about longings not fulfilled – but don’t give up hope!
He DOES fulfill our longings. Not always on our timetable, not always in the way we expect – but the Lord does fulfill and come through for us. He not a tame, pet, kitty cat we can control, but He is a good lion who fights for us, and a tender lover who mourns and rejoices over us.
Psalm 84 tells us that:
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!”
He doesn’t withhold anything good from us, when we surrender everything to Him (uprightly has a connotation of entirety, completeness). Hope becomes real when we stop hoping FOR something, and starting hoping IN the Lord. That is when hope sets our souls free. And when the Lord fulfills our longings – they do become a tree of life! Because He has already satisfied us, we can then give Him the glory for the fulfilled longing. Can He entrust you with His glory?
Practical tips for coping with longing:
- Remember Who is in control
- Tell a friend (pray together)
- Surrender (see part 3)
- Wrestle – He can handle it
- Harness the emotion to help others (Want kids – babysit for a tired Mom)
- Grieve. It’s ok to feel it, just don’t dwell there.
- Write a list of what you do have.
- Give thanks for the longing.
- Stay humble and never leave the Throne of Grace
Also in this series:
Before we look at what longing is, (If you missed what Longing Isn’t, read it here) we are going to take a quick detour. The last post ended with sacrificing our longings and offering them to the Lord as a thank offering. Psalm 50:23 says:
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God”
What does it mean to see the salvation of the Lord in our longings and desires?
Ultimately, it means allowing the Lord to use you in the bigger picture of life. The word for “salvation” in Psalm 50:23 is translated from the Hebrew word “yesha`” meaning deliverance, salvation, rescue, safety, welfare, prosperity, and victory. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the deliverance of God, the rescue of God, the safety of God, the victory of God…”
Even when it seems that the Lord is holding out on us, His “no’s” and “not yet’s,” are STILL provision for us! He is FOR us.
The chief aim of longing is to force us to see the bigger picture of the Lord’s hand at work. <—- Tweet this. Longings are where we meet our Savior with our heart, and not just with our intellect. As Christians when we “ask the Lord into our hearts”, do we realize that we are asking Him to be Lord of our lives – ie – have lordship over us? Do we understand that we are now no longer our own, but have been bought with a price? (1 Cor. 6)
Philippians 2 tells us to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ – the working out of our salvation is the process of surrendering our desires (bad – AND good) to the lordship and authority of Jesus Christ. This means we no longer get to control the outcome of our desires, or have the right to be disgruntled when they aren’t fulfilled in the way, or in the timing, that we wish. At times it’s easy to start questioning if the Lord is a cruel judge withholding the fulfillment of your longings from you, but before you question, I challenge you to first question whether you are basing your interpretation of what is good for you (or not), off of what you know of good, or what you know of God? Who judges what the “good” standard is – you, or God? Let Him be your measure of what is good; don’t measure Him by your standard of goodness.*
Sometimes the surrendering of our lives begins with the choice to trust that the Lord’s standard of what is good for us is better than our own. <—- Tweet this.
When we surrender our longings to the Lord (i.e. coming to the place where we can trust that this way is good, His best plan for us, and that He is FOR us) we get to see the bigger picture of what He is doing. Sometimes it takes a bit for the perspective to come – but even that place is a chance to learn to trust Him to be bigger. Remember, our thank sacrifice, is what prepares the way for the Lord to show us His salvation.
We won’t see the salvation until we surrender. Surrender is the very unpopular process of denying self. Once self is out-of-the-way – the Lord works! For me, getting self out-of-the-way meant letting go of my pride – that I knew what was best for me.
Longing taught me what it meant to truly bow before my King. In retrospect, I would not change anything. Even if the Lord never fulfills my longings, the sweetness of relationship and communion I have with Him, is worth every tear, ache, and the battle to keep longing in the right place in my heart.*
Without longing, and without surrendering it, I would not be seeing the salvation – victory & provision – of the Lord in my life right now.
While I do not see the completeness of the bigger picture yet, my longings have led me on untold adventures.
- My longing for a mentor spurred me onto seeking Him for myself, and to be the mentor I longed for to a wide group of girls. If I had more mentors I wouldn’t have reached out.
- In longing for a family/relationship, I’ve prayed that if my earthly home is to be emptier, than may my heavenly home be fuller. He truly does give the barren women children – the number of my spiritual children cannot physically fit in my earthly home! I am a blessed woman!
- As I long for a husband, He shows me the bigger picture of how He longs for His bride – the church – and I realize, this life, it’s not really about me. It’s about His Kingdom.
This is the story of the Son of God, hanging on the cross for me. But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea. O death where is your sting? Cause I’ll be there singing, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord. – The City Harmonic, Holy.
The holiness of our God, and the preciousness of a love that gave all for us – wipes out the sting of longing when we sing Holy is the Lord. Your longing – it’s not really about you.
Next: What Longing Is.
Holy – Wedding Day, by The City Harmonic
*please note – I’m not talking about killing our longings and desires. Stuffing them or killing them only makes walls go up and makes matters worse–it’s only in facing them, and the pain that they bring, that surrender and freedom come. Longings don’t go away, but when they are in their rightful place (under the Lordship of Christ – not usurping His place on the throne of our hearts) there is joy, peace, freedom, and an untold depth with the Lord. It’s hard to realign our sense of what is good and right for us to the Lord’s, (I have SO been there!). If you are struggling with this, let me encourage you to start with the area of trust. ASk the Lord to reveal to you the lies you are believing about who He is, and ask for the grace for a soft heart to change your perspective. And then dear friend, share the pain with Him, and let Him work through the mess with you.
Longings come from a lot of different desires and dreams (most of them good!), but some things longing isn’t meant to be.
Longing isn’t an excuse for sin. Longing for something isn’t inherently wrong. It’s often actually good and God given, but it’s what we do with longing that makes it right or wrong. In regards to our desires and longings, they only become sin when we are willing to sin to have the longing fulfilled.
“if you are willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire as has taken God’s place and you are functioning as an idolater.” –Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart
The place that longing holds in our hearts determines whether or not it is sin. Another way to think of it is to ask, “Are we controlled by this longing? Do we act out of the longing, or out of the Holy Spirit’s fruit (self control) and leading?Longings can be traced back to motives. While they often start out with a pure desire, longings can quickly get twisted in our hearts when we sin because we don’t get what we want. (Insert complaining, doubt, self focus, anger, pride… You name it; we all have a default reaction when we don’t get our way.) – Let’s get uncomfortable for a minute, what’s your default reaction? Mine, gulp, well mine is usually pride and doubt.
Longing isn’t a place for a pity party where the honored guests, “what if” or “I wish” get center stage:
“There is a somewhat philosophical realization that actually I have lost nothing. We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget – that loss is imagined, not real. I imagine peaks of enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone. What is, is actual – what might be is simply not, and I must not therefore query God as though He robbed me – of things that are not. Further the things that belong to us, they are good, God given, and enriched. Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” Jim Elliot in a letter to Elisabeth, Passion and Purity.
If we don’t have it, we don’t need it. It’s a hard truth, but Peter tells us that we have been given ALL we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1) When we think we are “owed” something by the Lord, or by life, we open wide the door for sin (offense, bitterness, distrust, doubt). Accepting what we do have is the greatest risk we are asked to take, because in acceptance, we surrender our pride (I know what’s best for me) and have to trust the Lord that He is good, and that He is faithful.
Longing isn’t meant to rob us of the now. Longing is simply a battlefield between the now and the not yet. It’s where we fight our dragons of fear, insecurity and pride, as we wrestle though facing our Maker and ourselves.
A red light in our longing means the adventure is not yet finished where we are! There is more to be done here – will you be brave enough to accept what you have, and offer it to the Lord as a sacrifice for Him to use?
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” Psalm 50:23
Thanking God for our longings can be one of the hardest things we do – that is why it is called a sacrifice, but in doing so – it opens the way for us to see the salvation of the Lord. (And when we see the salvation of God – is it really such a sacrifice then? It becomes a no-lose situation)
Longing doesn’t rob us of our “now’s” – perspective does. With our minds we can live in the land of “not yet”, or we can ask God to see His salvation where we are, and let Him create tools to fight our dragons, and live fully in the now. That doesn’t mean we don’t still long for things, it means longing takes its proper place in our hearts, and lets God have the throne.
Next: Seeing our Salvation within our longings.