our striving would be losing

If there ever was someone who deserved the distinction of being absolute, that someone is Jesus. He declared himself the absolute, only way to enter into the kingdom of heaven (John 14:6). In this question, there is no grey area – not a single drop of ying yang to dilute what He has spelled out explicitly in His word.

Christ is salvation for those who believe, but salvation is bigger than we think. It is not just a salvation from judgment. Christ’s salvation is also salvation into righteousness. In the same moment that He freed us from the bloody (literal) cycle of sacrifices, He freed us into obedience by way of His righteousness. We are no longer ruled by the destruction of our secret hearts and the destruction of our sinful humanity. We are not ruled by the darkness that seems to rule the world.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We are freed from judgment by Christ’s atoning sacrifice and freed into obedience by Christ’s imputing righteousness.

What we believe about Jesus Christ matters because our lives could never stand up to God’s righteous judgment. My sin goes before me and follows close behind. The good I want to do gets muddled up in my own schemes and I am daily reminded of my sin that leads to death. I am weak against greed and pride and lust and fear and faithlessness. There is not a day I could stand upright in the face of God’s righteous judgment.

But God, being rich in mercy called His children before the foundations of the world into freedom from the judgment that is due our dead bones.

I need for Christ to offer a salvation that is more than just a courtroom scene where He takes my guilty sentence. I need for Him to be the justice I act and the mercy I show and the love I share. I need for Him to be the righteousness that roots out my fear and greed and lust and pride and I need Him as replacement. I need for Christ to be who God sees when I stand before the throne of judgment. AND HE IS, dear friends!

What we believe about Jesus Christ matters because His sacrifice both atones for our sin (receiving the judgment we are due) AND imputes our righteousness (replacing ours with the perfect life Christ lived).

He is the perfect heart condition when I try to muster compassion. He is the perfect generosity when I scrounge for change. He is the perfect host when I frenzy about with overlapping plans. He is the perfect listener, counselor, and encourager when I am trying very hard and very imperfectly to be all those things.

Yesterday, I sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” with a group of strangers in a beautiful church near Union Square. This second verse really tore apart my spirit.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

I do a lot of striving – a lot of confiding in my own strength – and none of it gets me closer to a better salvation. Absolutely not one single attempt (or many) at righteousness will be the reason Christ invites or denies me into His kingdom. Because there is only one right Man, a Man of God’s own choosing, who has the power and perfection to be condemned in my guilty place so that I can become the righteousness of God. Salvation doesn’t get any better than that.

No matter how many hungry folks we feed or naked people we clothe or strangers we invite in, we would never do it perfectly and we would never do it enough. I would never do righteousness enough and (if I could be so bold) you wouldn’t either. We are always striving and our striving is always losing, but God made a way for us to be free of judgment and freed to righteousness. And that way is Jesus.

What we believe about Him is the most pressing, most prominent, most permanent thing today. He makes perfect all our imperfect attempts because He gave us His righteousness. We are freed from striving for perfection and freed from losing at that game. We are freed into obedience because salvation doesn’t depend on our righteous performance. Salvation depends on the cross and Christ performed that perfectly… so that we could enter into His joy and invite others to the banquet table to meet the Man of God’s own choosing.

As I click at my keyboard, wet and sloppy tears are tracking through the blush on my cheeks. Everything is snot-messy because salvation will always be a mystery. I don’t understand why I get to know Christ. I don’t understand why my sin does not banish me forever from His presence. I don’t understand why I never have a better response. I don’t understand why my daily song doesn’t sound like worship. I don’t understand why my heart can be so resistant to miracles.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-31 ESV)

truth is like gravity

C.S. Lewis calls it “chronological snobbery.” I call it imagined progress or fake sanctification or foolishness. His words are better, I know (are we surprised?). He only needed two words to pinpoint our pride in the tick marks of a timeline, but I’m going to use this whole blog post to pound out my thoughts.

We are not the Israelites complaining in the desert and we are not Hitler’s Germany in 1914 and we are not our more segregated relatives and we are no longer our 15-year-old selves. Chronology cancels things out – time does not allow us to live in minutes that have already passed.

But chronology does not cancel out Truth.

Truth is always the same because God is always the same. What was true for the Israelites and wartime Germany and Rosa Parks and high school youth group – all of that is true right now, because truth does not change. Humanity is depraved and that depravity rears its ugly head in every generation. We will always fall short, always fail at perfection, always choose our own way. But God, being rich in mercy…

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)

Somehow, with all our progress, we have not developed out of a need for salvation and we never will. We still very much need God to be rich in mercy. We will always need for Him to show immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

But sometimes, it seems like our tendency is to talk down to our 15-year-old selves – like the truth we heard in our youth was too simple, too naive, and too old-fashioned. It is tempting for my generation to look back on history and be proud that we don’t segregate water fountains or worship golden calves or let our taxes build incinerators. But truth doesn’t change like gravity doesn’t change. It just is. We will always need salvation and we will always need truth – the same truth the Israelites needed and the same truth Hitler needed and the same truth my youth pastor taught my 15-year-old self every Sunday night.

Depravity needs truth and truth never changes. We should be neither proud of our progress nor discouraged by our sinful state because depravity has an antidote. We are sanctified from one degree of glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18), but it is more like lights turning on in a farmhouse than mile markers passed on a highway.

We are not better than our ancestors or our younger selves; we all are faced with the same Truth. Little children and old grandparents and 15-year-olds in youth group and post modern hipsters in Brooklyn – by God’s grace we can all know the kind of truth that sets us free. And the truth of Jesus Christ never changes, ever. As we mature and grow in knowledge of the Lord, we are diving deeper into the same well.

If I read Ephesians 2 every day, I would be overwhelmed by the same Truth – different lights in the same house of my soul and none of the lights would cancel out.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:8-22 ESV)

These are my morning musings – the things I can pound out in the 30-45 minutes before leaving for work. I do not pretend they make every kind of sense, but I do hope they inspire thought and response and a deeper examination of the Word. 

this tornado loves you

I have to give credit to Neko.

Her song “this tornado loves you” was the inspiration for all the surprise birthday party craziness. Well, her and Patrick’s obsession with surprises. I wanted the whole night to feel like a tornado – the surprises, the plans, and the people. But, the best kind of tornado – the reason why Helen Hunt was one of those storm chasers in the movie Twister. Because there is something exciting about getting swept up in that spinning motion; there is something really thrilling about the energy in the air that can lift things off the ground.

That’s the kind of feeling I wanted to create.

The surprise-keeping was torture. Last night, after he walked in and looked like this:

photos courtesy of Chris!
photos courtesy of Chris!

…after that I started breathing again. Why was it so important for him to walk into a room full of people celebrating him unexpectedly? Because he loves surprises and I love him. 

All the weeks of knotted up insides and half-truth schemes and several versions of party themes… all of it was worth the look on his face when he realized his friends in this city will do crazy things to make him feel special.

He didn’t make it easy, though. He wanted to come over yesterday to help me deep clean my apartment (from the terrarium party the week before). After I had hidden the morning’s baked goods and refrigerated the first of many bacon treats and covered the rum bacon ice cream, I relented. He brought over fresh doughnuts and his Swiffer (the good kind that sprays) and immediately handy-manned a lamp we’ve been needing to fix. Then he spent a good 20 minutes beating my area rug on the fire escape before we cleaned all the floors. He almost insisted on carrying my laundry down, but I wiggled out of that one (because the laundry was a ruse to get him out for a few hours, but I legitimately need to do laundry desperately).

When he left, my party planners (and the best friends ever) arrived and we set the tornado in motion.

And then I changed our dinner plans so many times that he became very hangry. He got so frustrated (to be fair, we had planned to eat at 6:30 and I didn’t tell him where to meet us until 7:30). Instead of being suspicious, he was just a really severe combination of hungry and angry. I can thank his stomach for helping to keep the surprise, I guess. But I felt horrible. When he opened the door and I was dressed up, he still didn’t think anything of it. He was mostly still hangry.

But then he turned the corner and a room full of people sang to celebrate him. And that whole scene made me so happy!

People brought magnets (one of Patrick’s random favorite things) and wrote memories down on tornado cards. There was bacon ice cream and bacon wrapped dates and candied bacon and nutty bacon chocolate bark and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake. And there was laughter.

Midway through the party, Patrick read one of the tornado cards that said “this surprise has wheels.” And everyone grabbed coats in time to make the B43 a party bus (the driver even said Happy Birthday, Pat over the microphone when we got off). We caught a sweet concert that our friend Rebecka rocked out, where we met more friends and ANOTHER surprise cake. From there we headed to one of our favorite spots to close out the night with some multi-colored disco lights and some of Pat’s best dance moves. It was all so good, it almost felt like I  was the one unwrapping gifts all night.

But after all that, after all the party planning and party having and party traveling, my favorite part was this morning. It didn’t have anything to do with the party last night, but it was the most special thing.

We were sitting in church with big grins across our faces. We greeted our friends we had seen just hours before and we passed the peace to friends we hadn’t seen in awhile. We worshipped in song and through prayer and with full hearts as the sun reached through stain glass to warm the tops of our heads. And as we stood in line for communion, we heard “Jesus Paid It All” circling over our heads.

This was my favorite part. There is a bigger tornado of love that swallows up any we can create. It’s heavy and light and mysterious and reckless. And it happened this morning when I heard about Jesus healing the paralytic.

As much as we love surprises – giving and receiving and sharing – God must love them most. He made us to have that face we have when we walk into a roomful of people who want to celebrate us. He made us with insides that knot together in nervous excitement when we don’t want to spoil the story. He made us and we reflect Him. So He must love surprises. I wonder what face He wore when He surprised creation with His love.

I wonder what His delight looks like when we are surprised by His joy and grace every day.

if concrete tears could hang like a cloud

If all of New York City’s concrete tears could hang like a cloud across the concrete streets, it would be the heavy haze of this early evening. My homeward bound steps felt like sadness tonight, which is unusual because I have learned to love my commute (and the love came easily).

I felt deeper the tension of people in close proximity absent any affinity for one another. I felt that tension on the subway platform and on the J train and when the crowd of people threw elbows and pained expressions at Broadway Junction. I felt it more tonight than I have before.

Perhaps it was the fog – because when I stepped off the B44 on Nostrand, I promise I looked the city in her face and her eyes were brimming but her face was dry. It was like she was holding back, trying to hem in whatever hurt had happened on Thursday. And the hurt that happened was thick.

It’s getting darker. These days turn to night before I am ready. That might be the only sad thing about autumn – it sleeps too early.

I could blame the melodrama on the quesadilla I ate today, from the Mexican place by my work that is run by a nice Chinese couple. But I’d be lying if I said the tension didn’t feel real. It does. But, who is surprised? The city is a ruthless place. But, there is always tenderness. 

There is always beauty inside and around ruthless. Always. And every once in a while, when I let the stubbornness of my soul soften up, the Lord shows grace so I can see. Grace to see His provision and grace to believe His provision is enough.

Grace.

The end of this day is full of grace because the whole day was full of it but my soul was just now soft enough to see. When I knocked on my neighbor Elsa’s door to respond to the note she taped on mine, I found her with a beautiful flowering plant to share. Later, when I opened my door to a knock, I found Patrick with a bag of groceries and dinner plans. When we sat in our now a-little-less-empty living room drinking cinnamon and nutmeg, I found laughter.

And this is grace. Sweet grace when the concrete tears hang like a cloud on concrete streets.

God’s grace in the taste of warmed peaches

I’ll spare you the details.

Yes, because the details look like a swollen face and dental office tears. I’ll spare you those, because that isn’t what greased my gears these past couple days. I haven’t written because my head felt like a fire breathing dragon in a breath holding contest. Something like that, anyway. So, I didn’t think my words would come out appropriately or coherently or worthy of my small readership (I really do think of you).

Do you want to know what has been marvelous about these past couple days? Autumn.

I think (in my more romantic moments) that Autumn is the heavenly concoction God cooked up to especially delight our senses. Just when we got used to deep green leaves and bright sunshine and bare shoulders, Creation shrugs into a different set of smells and sights and rhythms.

I love to think of God’s delight as Christ holds the universe together (Hebrews 1:3). He doesn’t just hold things as they are, though he could do that and it would still be miraculous. He holds things together and delights to play symphonies and paint tapestries and breathe seasons into reality.

Can you believe His great grace to us – that we get to watch as He traces His majesty into the sky and as He paints Autumn into the trees?

It is not easy to be sick in a new city. But His grace is like a gusty Autumn wind – it’ll meet you in a surprise attack and leave you laughing.

His grace looked like my sister ordering soup from a thousand miles away. It looked like making stovetop apples and lentil stew with my roommate. It looked like an opera with an old friend. It looked like the understanding of my coworkers. It looked like new friends checking in and referring an amazing dentist. His grace looked like the crisp breeze under my chin and the taste of warmed peaches in my morning oatmeal.

Can God’s grace be the taste of warmed peaches? Yes.

Yes, sometimes God’s grace to us and the ways He keeps His promise to protect and provide is surprisingly simple.

Because caring for His creation is not complicated, to Him anyway. He knows what will delight my heart and what will sustain my spirit. He knows because He made me and He knows what it means for His grace to be uniquely enough for my situation.

Of course, the best sufficiency is always more of Christ Himself. But I’m going to be honest. It was hard to make my swollen face focus on anything philosophical. So, I am thankful that in those moments Christ was made known to me in these other ways.

And as we receive grace we fight to believe that God is good to keep giving it because He is a promise keeper.

And He has promised more grace.

 

all the million other reasons

My friend Nicole and I often recount the impossibility of our becoming friends. We love the silly madness of it – Nicole was looking to transfer schools during our first semester at Hope College and I was reveling in independent bliss with my new best friend Meghan.

Meghan and I were next door neighbors in the dorm and fast friends. It just so happened that we were assigned to the same Bible study group, where we learned that someone named Nicole wanted to transfer.

Meghan and I decided Nicole would be our friend, even though we knew very little about her. One day, we were biking from a football game and we spotted Nicole on the sidewalk. In our excitement, we fell over in front of her while trying to explain that we would all soon be friends. There are many surprising things – like that it was actually Nicole we saw (there weren’t many Asian students) and that she didn’t run in the other direction when we made a scene.

But we love that story because here we are in the present, remembering that first year of Bible study and the following years of friendship. Here we are, right now, playing phone tag because our friendship is the kindred kind.

And from such an unlikely beginning.

I have always recounted stories like these (it seems I collect them like kids collect seashells at the beach) and praised God for His sovereignty. How amazing that He cared about all the little details – all the punctuation in the writing of our beautiful story of friendship.

Recently, I rediscovered a friendship from childhood and I was praising God in the same way – expressing wonder that He would bless us in such an unlikely and surprising way. My new/old friend lost no time in being the iron that sharpens iron. She mentioned a Tim Keller sermon that had changed how she thought about unlikely circumstances in her life. Instead of thinking about all the reasons things happened for her benefit as God was writing her story, Keller challenged my friend to think about all the million little things He was doing in the stories of the people around her and in the greater and bigger story of Creation.

Think about that for a second.

God is, indeed, working out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But, I can only look back on my life and see the tiniest number of reasons why God might have worked the way He did. Naturally, we rush to explain that what we didn’t know then and do know now gives us a glimpse of His perfect plan. What about all the other hundreds of people who have stepped in and out of my little story… couldn’t some of the unlikely details and detours of my life play a part in their stories?

Most importantly, when we marvel at the way God is sovereignly writing the narrative of creation and holding it together in Christ, we must never be at the center.

Every unlikely detail of our lives followed by every unlikely consequence are sentences in a story about God’s grace and God’s love toward us.

His name and renown are always at the center of the story, even though we are the recipients. My unlikely friendship with Nicole might have started because our bikes tipped over by Holland Municipal Stadium, but there might be a million other reasons God started our story the way He did – for His name’s sake. I will never know all the reasons God blessed my life the way He has, but the little I do know has produced joy in overwhelming abundance. Maybe that’s why we don’t know all the million other reasons – the joy at His goodness would be too much.

Here are some reminders from Josh Etter at Desiring God that we are created, saved, and sanctified for God’s name’s sake.

We are created for God’s name’s sake:

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory (Isaiah 43:6-7).

We are saved for God’s name’s sake:

I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out (Ezekiel 20:14).

We are sanctified for God’s name’s sake:

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another (Isaiah 48:10-11).

joy blooms

My grandma is incredible at noticing the little things about flowers. She has a beautiful garden in her backyard, but she often brings in the blooms to set on the counter. She watches and often narrates the process as the bud breaks out into full splendor. I love hearing her talk about her blooming flowers, because that’s what flowers were made to do: bloom.

There are drought years and there are flood years and there are late years and early years, but the fact remains: flowers are made to bloom.

I think we are made for joy.

It may not manifest at all times in the very same ways, but God has designed us to enjoy Him. We are growing and budding and reaching for the sun as His grace builds the bloom, but it’s always in there – even in droughts and floods and in years where seeds are planted late.

We are made for joy and I’m not sure when we feel it more, when we are desperate in drought times or when we are displaying the glory of a full bloom. But it doesn’t really matter when we feel it, it matters that we are made for it – made for enjoying God.

The weight of this enjoyment is like gravity – pulling us ground-ward as we walk out life on earth, but lifting our eyes upward as we marvel at the power of such force.

Joy is in full bloom and I am made to display the splendor.

This is that post where I ask you to excuse me for being absent – where I tell you I have been living life away from my keyboard and I’m not sorry. Well, maybe I’m a little bit sorry because “living life” means I have a very long list of inspiration that needs to find its way on here soon.

What have you been up to, meanwhile?

satisfied

Can winter really steal some of Spring’s joy?

Sometimes we have to claim Spring (for our souls) by squaring our shoulders and telling winter’s chill that a seed planted grows and blooms. We say it not to make it so, but to believe it true.

Have you ever done that?

Have you ever said something you believe is true, desperately hoping that what you believe is, indeed, true?

Like, maybe, “Lord, you are enough.” And as you are saying the words you are believing them… but you are also throwing all your hope at the Lord to make good on His promise to be enough.

In the face of an unlikely winter day in the middle of Spring, sometimes we just have to say, “I am satisfied in You” over and over again until our belief becomes our delight.

there is a peace

This last day of April stretched out long and I stretched out to test the seams of it – to try to be as patient as the moments that crept by so I could experience each one fully. It has been some time since one day has had so many slow moments and I was content to savor them all. Maybe it was the sun that slowed things down, begging me to look extra long at the city as I sped from place to place.

There is a peace.

Maybe it’s irresponsible to be unafraid of the future and maybe it’s naive to hope for impossible things. Maybe the illusive peace this world craves with groans is not a thing my soul can feel. But, maybe not.

By grace (o, mysterious grace!), we can say, “There is a peace” both with certainty and with hope. Our belief that God is Redeemer, Promise-Keeper, Defender, Lover, Savior, and Friend prompts our certainty and his faithfulness to be all those things prompts our hope. The grace empowered cycle of certainty and hope is a fountain that wells up and overflows in peace that covers all uncertain and desperate moments.

There is a peace to settle your soul. Well, it’s settling mine anyway.

What shall I do with a settled soul? How can I make sure the certain and hopeful moments are not wasted? Our memory verse (from Fighter Verses) for this week is Romans 12:11-13,

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

There is a gracious peace that has settled my soul and the Lord is calling me to make my peace productive. The same grace that allows me peace makes provision for good works (2 Corinthians 9:8) that have been prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). As I savor the cycle of certainty and hope, God is breathing life into my bones so that I may live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

All this peace is for a purpose – that the Lord would be glorified in my dependence, my delight, and my diligence.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

There are many, many ways to serve our friends, family, and neighbors. This is May 1 and every May I try to accept the Every Day in May challenge. This year, I am going to use my love for creative writing to bless someone new each day. This might be through a story, card, special email, or clever joke. I may or may not post everything I do, but I might report some of the stories that happen as a result. I encourage you to take the challenge as well – for the month of May, choose to do something you love every day. My little addition is that you would use the “something you love” to bless others – that way you are both glorifying God with your gifts and blessing others with your offering!

from @frenchtoastgirl

my heart will never not be His

There is not a depth that can reach the deeps of the excellencies of Christ.

Not a friendship or a family or a lover or an ocean avenue view; not a single created thing can plumb the depths of His glory or compare to the riches of His grace.

There have been times when I’ve wondered if I lack a very womanly and essential thing. I’ve wondered why I am not more emotional or more dramatic or more anticipatory about love in this life. I have wondered and worried why I am not wooed by the chick flick storyline, waiting for my world to shift when a dapper young man spills his drink on me downtown. I have wondered why I am not a hopeless romantic.

I have, up to this point, credited the amazing men in my life as largely responsible for my (mostly) reasonable approach to relationships. They still get kudos, but I realized recently why there is a steadiness in my step that is anchored as deep as the unplumbable depths: Christ.

I’m not trying to explain the pinterest-popular slogan, “a woman should get lost in Christ so a man has to seek Christ to find her” or some other version of the same idea. What I mean is… I am just content to be lost.

I do not need to be found by anyone else because the depths of Christ’s love are too deep! They go on and on and on forever. I am not singing with Beyoncé, “all you women, who independent throw your hands up at me,” so hear me out before you point and question my biblical view of complementarianism.

I am questioning the encouragement we give women to get lost in Christ as a means to an earthly end in a man. I was running around Gray’s Lake recently, considering my contentedness and questioning my relationship readiness when I realized,

“my heart will never not be His”

I remember my dad gave me a locket when I was thirteen. We were in San Diego on the “girl trip” that my sister and I took individually with him to mark our “coming of age.” It is as embarrassing as it sounds (well, more embarrassing was the camping trip I blushed my way through with my mom to listen to all of Dr. Dobson’s tape series on sexuality). The “Dad and me” version in San Diego was embarrassing (isn’t everything at 13?), but it was so very special. It was rare to have occasion to fly anywhere, but his being on the board of directors on the little rural electric cooperative made it possible for my sister and me to accompany him to (what we thought was) paradise.

He had left the details of our coming of age to the “tapes” (as us kids now call them), and instead over a nice dinner one night gave me a heart shaped locket. I don’t remember the exact speech, but I’m sure he labored over every letter. What I remember is something like this,

“Caroline, your mother and I love you very much. But God loves you more. This locket is a symbol to show that He will keep your heart safe until He sees fit to share it with someone else.”

I’m embarrassed to say gold was not my color as a junior high girl. The locket sat in a little chintzy heart shaped porcelain container on my shelf for years. But, that night when my dad shared his and God’s love for me, I started to understand what it meant to have a heart that is guarded and protected. I had trusted Jesus as my Savior at a young age and junior high was the first refining fire I blazed through, so knowing my heart was held in the hands of my Maker could not have been better news.

Though I can’t say high school and college were without drama, I rarely shouted girl power anthems with windows down and fists pumping the air. I think deep down I knew and believed that God had my heart and that was the safest place for it to be. I was secure, protected, loved, and cherished – even if those weren’t the words I would use to express it.

Now, running along Gray’s Lake in the too-bitter chill of Spring, I have peace that my heart will never not be His. Even when I do get married, my love for Christ and Christ’s love for me is the only and best anchor for my soul.

Marriage is one of the most beautiful pictures of God’s love, but it will always only be that: a picture. God’s love is the only thing that can reach the unplumbable depths and secure my spirit with an anchor that won’t disappoint.

My heart will never not be His and I trust Him to share or not share it.

These reflections come as I read through Gospel Deeps by Jared C. Wilson and as I consider unmarried life at 28 years old. Read this related post: seeking the greatest Treasure.