Promises, promises

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It is one of those weeks where I don’t really want to write, because I am scared of what is inside of me. What is inside of me this week isn’t wise or Godly or awesome blogger worthy. It is messy and scary and painful. I don’t always want to show you that side of me, but it’s better than being fake. So here goes…

My thought life went into a tailspin this week thinking of an old crush a long time ago. He really cared about me, more than I knew at the time. I passed him up because another guy was pursuing me who was more suave and persuasive. It is a regret I have held on to for a long time.

I started wondering if that unwise choice sent me down this road of having no family. I wished to God that I could go tell my 18 year old self to look for the fruit of something when it is still a seed. To go for the kind man instead of the charming one. To tell her that she might have a lot of prospects now, but someday she would have almost none and that she shouldn’t be so picky. That if she passed this opportunity, she might never have a chance at love again.

I also started realizing how very many years ago all of this was and I panicked. A Christian isn’t supposed to be scared of getting older. A Christian isn’t supposed to be terrified of death. But I am.

Oh God, have mercy on me.

I am going to be completely transparent with you here and say that it is times like these that I doubt the goodness of God. I feel like he has promised me things that have never come to pass, and I don’t know how to reconcile that with my view of him.

I can relate to Abraham this way. Abraham was promised a son and I’m sure he thought promise would be fulfilled within months. But it did not happen for decades. How confused he must have been! And yet, Abraham still had faith.  Yes, there were seasons of crazy doubt where he tried to control the situation by getting his servant pregnant. But it says in the verse below that after that episode he kept going. Despite his doubts, despite how dire the circumstances looked, he did not give up on God.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,  obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going… For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she  considered him faithful who had made the promise.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

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. “(Hebrews 11:8-12.)

I, too, am a foreigner and stranger on the earth. Being alone doesn’t feel right because it’s not right. Pain is part of the package of being human, of being strangers on the earth. We long for something more because there is something more. Like Abraham, we look for the city with foundations that are true, a city that is built by God. A place in which we will one day live, where all things will be made right.

But even on this earth, even as strangers, there is hope. Abraham and Sarah along with many other saints did not completely receive the things promised during their lifetime. But there is a good reason for this delay. The promise was for so much more than one son. It was for a nation that would live on for centuries, an inheritance that we ourselves have been grafted into. How could they have possibly imagined how extravagantly God’s promise would be fulfilled?

I am struggling with understanding all of this pain, but like Abraham, I don’t want to give up on God. He is everything to me. I want to have the kind of faith that still believes in God’s goodness even when it doesn’t look like he is good. My pain, no matter how deep, does not negate his goodness.

Maybe, just maybe, I already have the kind of faith that Abraham had. Maybe I have moments of doubt and despair and control like Abraham did when he tried to get the promise of a son with his own strength.  But I have suffered many things and I still believe. I have wavered at times, but I have never broken my covenant with God, and he has never broken his covenant with me.
Perhaps God will fulfill the promises he has given me in ways I can’t understand, like he did for Abraham. Perhaps he will take my tiny seed of faith in his big big hands. Then he will scatter that seed into the wide night sky, a hundred million stars bursting fourth.

He did it for Abraham. He can do it for me too.

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13 thoughts on “Promises, promises

  1. I can relate to this one so strongly! When I was at that age when everybody is pairing up and marrying off, I wanted desperately to be married, but I had so many emotional issues that seemed to get in the way. Now that I’ve done a lot of work on those issues, I’m past that age, and I sometimes go down that road where I think I missed the bus because I was too busy being a basketcase at the time. And maybe I did. I don’t think God promised me marriage, necessarily, but I still think of Him as somehow having not given me what I needed, and He did say He’d do that. After all, I didn’t ask for the issues in the first place; why would He let me be so mired in pain that I couldn’t grasp the thing I wanted most in life? There’s a place in an Ann Voskamp book that goes, “I wake and put the feet to the plank floors, and I believe the Serpent’s hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: God isn’t good. It’s the cornerstone of his movement. That God withholds good from His children… That forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt, look at my reflection, and ask: Does God really love me? If He truly, deeply loves, why does He withhold that which I believe will fully nourish me?” She goes on to write about thankfulness and how it is practice in learning to trust Him. So tonight I am thankful for those “big, big hands” you wrote about, the ones that made the stars, and for your blog that made me smile and rest my pain in His hands once more.

  2. Katie I truly appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and bare your soul. I’m right there with you on the painful waiting bit. I’m afraid to hope because I’m not sure that a family is in the cards for me. I know I am incredibly blessed…and yet. Anyway at my small group tonight we were talking about spiritual weariness and wavering faith and my wise friend said she turns to Ecclesiastes 3 (you now, the there is a season verse). God thought it worthwhile to include Solomon’s writings of “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” For me those verses are a relief: I’m not expected to be happy go lucky Connie Christian all the time. It seems like we are pretty much promised that we’ll have times of darkness. So while that’s not entirely comforting, at least we know we are in good company and that God is not only with us in our seasons of doubt but expects it. Thank you for writing this blog, you have an uncanny knack for capturing the vague thoughts floating around in my head and expressing them beautifully! Keep the faith.

  3. This is a lovely piece. The raw authenticity is beautiful and I know, is encouraging those who read it to be equally as authentic with God allowing them to find peace in inviting God into these tender areas. The great thing is, though you were talking specifically about one issue, it applies to more than just the issue of singleness. It makes one ask, “where do I feel I’ve been disappointed by God?” A lot of healing can come from just opening that up to Him. Thank you for writing!

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart…

    “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

    ― C.S. Lewis

  5. Very honest and well-written. I went through a similar situation in college. Keep in mind that God knew the choices you would make before YOU did, and that your choices won’t thwart His will. He has a great plan for you!

  6. Kate, thank you for sharing this. I too can relate to the doubts that creep in that God is good. During the darkest times of my life, I never doubted his existence, but the pain and weight caused me to doubt that his plans for my life were good.
    When the man I had loved for 6 years and believed with all my heart that he was “the one”, broke up with me…I was more than heart-broken. Devasted and shattered seem to be too flimsy of words. It took a very long time for God to bring healing and for me to be able to trust again.
    A few years later, I finally fell in love again with a wonderful man who made the first one seem like a jerk. 🙂 But before we could be married, cancer invaded and stole our dreams. He died in my arms 2 years ago.
    There have been many times throughout my adult years that I have cried out in anguish to God. “Lord, why?!?” There were days when faith seemed laughable and hope took the last train out of town and left me standing alone with nothing left.
    Through it all, God taught me what it meant to trust completely. Blindly. I learned from actually experiencing it that His love and mercies were made new every morning. I believe that those who have suffered deeply get to experience God in a deeper, more intimate way than those who have never lost anything.
    Do I still struggle sometimes? Definitely. Do I still long for a husband and children? Of course. But will I still love Him even if He never gives me that which I desire…Yes. With His grace, I will.
    Thanks again, for being open and honest. It helps us not to feel so alone. I love reading the humor and poignancy of your blog.

  7. Thanks… Thanks for being transparent. Most of my confessions go in my journal, not on my blog. But I empathize. I realized it a couple of weeks ago when I wondered if maybe, just maybe, would it be worth giving in? And then I asked myself about my faith and if I were ready to wait for the things to come. Faith is… the evidence of things unseen. He promised. And His word does not go forth void.

  8. My heart breaks for you, and I am in a similar place.

    My mom was cleaning out the attic, and gave me a bag of old things, including some clothes I wore as a baby. Oh that hurt, because of course what went through my mind was “you’ll never have a baby that will wear these clothes.” And that’s probably true. I get so tired of the daily sufferings such as these.

  9. Pingback: Promises, Promises | womenathope.com

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