Archive | April, 2014

No Substitutes Accepted

18 Apr

One question I have asked many times over the past few months has been, “If God intends for David and I to be together (which I still believe He does), than why are we apart right now?”

I know the answer: God has work to do on both of us.  We are both being refined individually.  

I am in a one-year graduate school program that grants me a license to teach public school and brings me within a few credits of an M.Ed.  I entered this program with experience as a private-school teacher and an adjunct college instructor, but some of my classmates have come from completely different career fields looking for a change.  This program trains ALL of us to be qualified teachers in one year- needless to say, it has been an intense year for us all!  

God has given me grace far beyond what I deserve this year.  He has lead me to a good church- I haven’t been very plugged in due to my lack of time, gas money, and uncertainty as to how long I would be in this area- but I still look forward to the worship and the preaching every Sunday.  I am involved with the graduate chapter of Intervarsity here on campus and have been blessed by the fellowship of several wonderful people, including Sarah.  However, my personal time with God has been an uphill battle.  Even when I have finished my schoolwork and lesson planning, or when I have just reached my limit and can’t go any further, it’s a struggle to pull out my Bible or my prayer journal and spend even just a few brief moments with God.  If I have any energy I want to do something brainless, like scroll through pinterest or walk down to the gas station for a candy bar.  

I feel like God should be striking me with tragedies and crisis or letting me spiral into a pit of depression to get my attention- but He hasn’t.  As I said, He has poured out so much grace and mercy on me this year, I am without explanation except to say that He is good.  Even so, my spirit has felt the effects of spiritual starvation- I miss the intimacy and awe that I experience when I am consistent in my quiet times.  I have seen God working through me as I have had opportunities to share my faith with classmates and mentor teachers, but I wonder if those conversations could have been further in-depth if I were more in tune with Him.  

Today I talked with a few classmates about how we have been living off of coffee or diet coke to find the energy to keep going.  The problem is that, while the caffeine wakes us up for a few hours, it also leaves us jittery, prone to “crash,” and, worst of all, it kills our appetite for healthy food.  I sat in our night class earlier this week awake enough to focus on the lecture, but writhing with discomfort- I knew my body was protesting being bathed in caffeine and practically nothing else for so long.  Diet coke or coffee trick me into thinking I’m satisfied, but leave me lacking the nutrients I really need.

David could have had the same effect on me this year.  I would have made time for him (sadly, I know I would have, even if it had left me with less time for God).  We would have talked about our faith and prayed together.  He would have affirmed and encouraged me.  He would have listened to me vent and given me a shoulder to cry on when I was stressed out.  I might have unconsciously used him as a substitute for intimacy with God…and, I probably could have ridden on it for several months, possibly into our marriage.  And eventually, the discomfort and the craving for something real would have set in.  I would have been unfairly disappointed in David and probably far from God.  

There are many reasons why God has kept me single through this time, but I feel this is the most prominent.  I am being reminded that there are no substitutes for Him.  He is where I put my hope.  He satisfies me.  No one else can be substituted for that role in my life.

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Nothing…or just not what I expected??

4 Apr

The Thursday before the 15th, I messaged David to see again if he’d like to meet up sometime.  He replied instantly, “What about Saturday?”

Whoa.  Did he just voluntarily suggest Saturday, the 15th, the date I believed God had laid on my heart?  Was everything about to come together before my eyes??  Was God about to not only grant me my heart’s desire- to be with David- but also show me that He was so real, so personal, that He held the smallest details of my future in His hands?

I told David that I would love to see him Saturday, and he said he’d get back to me Friday night with a time.  I messaged Sarah right away and told her what was happening; she promised to pray for me and couldn’t wait to hear what happened.  “I needed to hear this right now!!” she added.

Friday night came- and David and I discovered we’d had a mis-communication about our schedules.  “Well, maybe we can make something work; I’ll text you tomorrow,” he told me.

Saturday morning I woke up with an urge to pray for David on my heart.  I decided to text him and let him know he was in my prayers, regardless of whether or not we would see each other- as I was typing the text, I remembered the whole significance behind this day.  David would have been married today.  It was my impression that he was the one to end the engagement- he just kept seeing more and more evidence that his fiance wasn’t who he had originally believed her to be, and that she certainly wasn’t the kind of woman he wanted in a stepmother for his son.  I prayed harder, asking God that, if David were dealing with any grief or regret today, that He would be near to him.

Around 11 that night I heard back from David.  So sorry he hadn’t spoken to me all day, it had been a long day and he was “dealing with some things,” but he appreciated my prayers.  I texted back that I would continue to pray.  My heart and my mind were spinning.  Was David dealing with the after-affects of his canceled wedding day, or had something else come up?  And…what had just happened??

Maybe the whole “March 15th” had been my imagination.  But then, would God allow everything to line up and then fall through??   It wouldn’t be atypical for me to message David saying, “Want to get together sometime for coffee?” and then not hear back from him for a week or two- it seemed that surely it was God who caused him to respond instantly and suggest Saturday.  Why would He do that?  To mess with me, to remind me that the future was His business and not mine??  No, the God I serve is not the passive-aggressive god of cultural-christianity, the easter-bunny god who hides things just to drive us crazy, or the prosperity-gospel god who backs out of His promises because our faith wasn’t enough.  No, I serve a God who keeps His promises and does what He says He will do, and nothing- our human weaknesses, circumstances beyond our control, the attacks of Satan- can stop His plan from going forward.    If He says it will happen, it will.  If it doesn’t happen, He never said it would.

But what HAD just happened here?  Had I just imagined Him telling me “March 15th”?  If so, was all of this- marriage by November 2014, to David- an entire joke, as well??  Or, had He done something after all, and I just can’t see it yet?

I texted David a few more times over the past few weeks, but he didn’t respond until this week when I asked how he was doing and told him I was continuing to pray for him.  “Hey Laura, I’m pretty rough but I appreciate the prayers,” he said.  My heart is constricted with worry for him- is he still broken over the canceled wedding?  Or is he dealing with something worse??   I pray furiously for him, but it feels like I’m crying out to the ceiling.

And I’m left wondering what’s really going on.  Every time I pray about David and these impressions upon my heart, I seem to feel affirmation- I see the parallels between this and the other times God spoke clearly to me (when He called me overseas).  I feel that He is revealing truths about my relationship with David to me (more on that in a future post).  I distinctly remember the moment in January when I felt that voice, out of nowhere, telling me, “You will be married by November 2014…to David.”  I have liked a lot of guys in my lifetime, but never have I experienced anything like this.   I was raised independent fundamentalist, with the mindset that God doesn’t speak to us anymore.   I had a few people tell me that my call to the mission field might be “Satan putting that desire in me.”  Um…first, how on earth would the devil be capable of telling someone to go spread the gospel??  And, second, if God doesn’t speak to us, why would Satan speak to us?  Is he more powerful than God (rhetoric question)??    On the other hand, there is the other extreme that I see in some churches/denominations, where people believe every little thought is a deep revelation from God- or, rather, if it’s something they want to hear, it’s from God.  I hear stories of women saying God has promised them a husband and twin babies and now they are angry that He hasn’t kept His promise, or saying that they are destined to a certain man but don’t understand why he won’t return the texts or phone calls they are bombarding him with.  Where is the line?  What does it really mean to hear my Shepherd’s voice?