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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