Inside looking Out
I remember unsteadily tip-toeing on the soft mattress of my bed; chin resting on the impossibly high window sill. I peered through the green leaves of the rowan tree outside and heard the voices of neighbourhood children who hadn’t been called in yet. Their laughter and shouts punctuated the quiet of my room as the evening light lengthened. It seemed like I was being sent to bed in mid-afternoon. It seemed like everyone else was out having fun but me.
Being single in the Church feels a little like that at times--like you’re on the outside looking in, or inside looking out, as the case may be--straining on your tiptoes to see what is happening for everyone else, before falling backward onto your pillow in isolated resignation to wonder at it all. God seems like that immoveable parent who could set you free you, but doesn’t. And, why doesn’t He? That’s really the question. Anyone who’s struggled with singleness has wondered, and we tend to wonder about it alone, because that’s the nature of situation. Some people will grow frustrated with God’s apparently apathetic attitude regarding the passage of time and biological clocks and so forth; deciding to make their own disobedient plans. These are sad stories overlain with bitterness at the apparent stinginess of God. God--who seems to lavish good things on the unworthy but withholds even the crumbs from me.
Here’s what I’ve learned walking this one road I always dreaded walking. My faith needs testing because I don’t know where the chink in my armour resides. The breach will come where the shield is weak. It’s just that simple. If you believe God is good and faithful and the source of all provisioning in every area save one--believe me--that is where the fight of faith will be fiercest. That is where it is going to get bloody.
Maybe it isn’t singleness. Maybe it is infertility, or feeling that God has laid something important on your life to do, but no matter how hard you try, every door seems not only closed, but quite possibly welded shut and disguised with the kind of enchantments used to hide the door to Moria. You begin to think that God is a divine Joker--creating the desire for marriage or children or a particular path in you, and then laughing maniacally as you hopelessly try to dig yourself out of the well of desire.
The testing reveals--as these things always seem to do--that we don’t know God very well. We don’t understand His heart or character or intentions toward us. Why tell Abraham he would be the father of many nations if God wasn’t going to bring it to pass for a hundred years? Wasn’t that just a recipe for disaster in which Abraham and Sarah began to think that maybe they had to come up with a way to bring about God’s purpose? Wouldn’t it have been better if Abraham had just smothered the hope for children and legacy within himself until the angels brought the message about Isaac? Clearly, though, that wasn’t what God had in mind. He seems to think that there is something important in the longing of faith for answers that only He can give.
The fight of faith isn’t fought by smothering. It is fought with a shield and a sword. It is about strengthening the weak places. It is about learning not to fear what you dread the most. It is about inviting the Holy Spirit to whisper over the weak place and shield you under His wings while the testing endures. It is saying with only the slimmest of willingness, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
Instead, we are like the disciples in the storm, waking Jesus in a panic.
“Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?”
They didn’t know Jesus very well. They didn’t know that the one who called forth the starry host by name was with them. They didn’t experience the supernatural peace of Jesus’ presence because they were looking at the water rather than the one who formed each hydrogen and oxygen molecule and bound them together in their own micro-trinity.
True peace is far more bold than just an experience of tranquility. It is the roof over your head and the fire in the hearth when a blizzard rages outside rattling the window panes with the wind’s uttered threats. Peace is the covering in the midst of the storm--not the abatement of the storm itself. Peace is the presence of God. The storms--the bloody fights of faith--come and go. Singleness. Marriage. Infertility. Conquer one to find that another one appears in due season. But the presence of God is the Spirit of Peace that covers you while His grace transforms your fear of being alone, to one of going it alone without God.
(This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of live Magazine. Check them out at www.baptistwomen.com)