written on 12/15/2010
As I sit here overlooking the beautiful West African shoreline listening to the comforting sounds of the waves while breathing in these restful moments of my 3 day retreat in Monrovia, I am reminded deeply of you.
I can’t help but sit here in my Liberian Utopia and imagine the fading colors of the Northwest and the coldness that must be settling in. The thought of winter is one that I can’t help but ponder even from a land that never seems to grow cold. I’m reminded nonetheless because once a year everything around me must die in order for new life to spring forth- in the States we call it winter, and here it is called dry season. Either way winter, dessert, and dry are all words describing seasons and lands most often associated with a certain amount of loss, death, confusion, and wandering.
Think of the Israelites who wandered through the dessert time and time again, eagerly wondering what hope and life awaited them in the land that God had promised. They longed for a manna that they had never known previously, and God in His loving sovereignty promised manna to their families and their future generations that would meet every longing in their souls, not just their physical hunger. And through this wilderness He promised that He allowed them to be tested, to wander and hunger so that they might know what’s in their hearts and whether or not they are willing to please Him; that ultimately they would know that man cannot live by manna alone but must live by every word -“the true bread”- that comes from the mouth of God. (Deut 8)
So for you it’s winter, and for me it’s dry season but perhaps it’s possible that He longs for us to be learning the same lesson through these seasons even as we are separated by an ocean. What things around you seem to be dying and what could be gained by submitting yourself to His plan through it all? What is the loss that comes forth from your heart time and time again during this season?
This year as I watch the roads get dryer, the dust fill the air in the streets, and the land lose a bit of its green beauty, I’m struggling deeply with the death of my independence and my insecurity- the giving up of myself to become one with Christ, and also joyfully uniting daily with a man who will one day, lord willing, be one with me in flesh.
Just as the land must die in winter to give birth to spring so must my independent life and insecurity die to give birth to a healthy united growing relationship.
I find myself more aware each day that my life is not my own and I have been bought with a high price before God through His Son Jesus. And likewise in a marriage I am called to live a life of joyful servitude outside myself and to not grow weary or burdened in the giving of my heart, my time, my energy, my service or my love. It’s such a hard concept to leave your Father and Mother, and to ultimately forsake all others, to join yourself with one person for the rest of your life. It’s even terrifying at moments to consider giving up or reshaping certain dreams, habits, ideals, beliefs, and insecurities to live peaceably while courageously trusting another with your heart, and to walk forward with them into your future with all the unknown days that lay ahead.
Sure you will always have friends and family, but God specifically reminds us that our spouse will be the greatest representation of His faithful love and secure pursuit. However, our spouses can never do this perfectly but with marriages driven with this intention in mind we can find the greatest satisfaction for our souls, both spiritually and in our physical relational lives.
I find it so easy to cling to my insecurity as an often subconscious excuse not to risk my heart or expose all that is unlovely about me to another. Sometimes it seems easier to remain unseen in my own darkness then to boldly admit that I feel lost, broken, afraid, hurt or undesirable and risk the possibility of being rejected for what feels like “ugly” weaknesses, rather than “human” weaknesses.
The truth is, if we are releasing these pieces of ourselves to Christ, and to those who are committed to imitating Him (even if it is imperfectly), then we will always be met by a God who is infinitely aware of our insecurities and yet remains unceasingly steadfast in His love and pursuit of us. And He will so often show Himself to us in this way through the faithful lovers He has brought into our lives (whether spouses or trusted friends and family).
Nonetheless, through this pursuit, we can all be drawn in closer to a divine lover who is captivated by our beautiful vulnerability and desire for righteousness before Him and others. Oh friends, He simply doesn’t heal what we deny exists, but if we trust Him with every piece of our hearts, He will faithfully refine us, and prune our dead branches for the sake of our souls, and yes even for the sake of our relationships as well.
I pray that your hearts will be encouraged as you experience the refinements of winter while eagerly anticipating the life that lies ahead with the changing of the seasons.