I’ve got some thoughts that I want to share, and I’m hoping they come out coherently . . .

I think I’ll start with a verse.

Once upon a time I was reading Psalm 118 and came across a phrase that specifically and clearly pierced through to an ongoing issue in my heart:

it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

I knew that as a general concept, and because I value independence and genuinely intend to trust God, I had previously presumed that I was getting that part right.

But that day, I realized that I wasn’t.  I realized that I was too many years into tense, shallow breathing and waiting for someone to rescue me – not just from the pressures of adulting in life, but from the God who allegedly loved me.

When it comes to the Gospel, I miss it sometimes in both directions. If I’m honest, I don’t tend to think of myself as all that depraved. I was brought up to be clean and smart and professional, and came to believe that those traits made me worthy. So I tend to think of myself as someone who can – for the most part – hold it together and be clean and smart and professional.

One the other hand, I don’t tend to think of myself as particularly lovely or spectacular. I tend to think of myself as above average but unassuming . . . neither here nor there and trying not to take up too much space.

So I didn’t have much confidence in God to really be all that invested in my life and well-being, let alone my comfort or my flourishing or my loveliness. I basically lived with a fracture in my foundation that was constantly being patched and stuccoed over with doctrines and verses I half understood and presumed myself to have grasped the power of.

Essentially, when I read that Psalm I was shooketh. Ha. Ever since then, I have read similar admonishments through the same lens . . . through the filter of ok, where am I not getting this right? Is there a chance I’m still erecting an empty throne for an eventual husband in the place that only God is meant to occupy? 

Over time, God has shown me that chronically misplacing my trust is not a neutral-at-best way to move through the world. There are actually principles and consequences associated with certain mindsets, and they can keep me from receiving and experiencing the best goodness that God wants to bless me with.

Jeremiah 17 echoes and elaborates on Psalm 118’s contrast between trusting in men instead of looking to God as our refuge:

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,[a]
    whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

In Jesus, we are redeemed from the curse of the law, but there seems to be – in scripture and in my experience – an inherently anxious state of being associated with trusting in men instead of in Him. Empowered by His Spirit in our glorious redemption, we are required to put forth effort and pursuit. We are called to let not our hearts be troubled or afraid. We get to chose where our trust is located with earthly concerns as well as for eternity.

I’m so grateful for God’s grace in keeping me from plowing down the path of dysfunctional relationships as I have continually failed to put my trust in Him. I was recently talking to a friend about one of the guys I mentioned in my California memoir, and how we really seemed to bring out the worst in each other.

Later that evening, I was thinking about that conversation and realized that the worst we brought out in each other was already there. I won’t go into details, but I think God really did allow that relationship to be a mechanism by which He exposed in each of us the gunk we had gotten good at hiding . . .

In all of my wandering around – searching for wildness and losing my focus – I was low-key running from the purpose God was starting to show me. At the very least I was wrestling with it, and flirting with another error Jeremiah warns of: rebellion.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear[a] my words.”So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

The more I read this passage, the gnarlier it seems to me. That God, who knows all things and allows us such costly freedoms and has a Plan that ultimately cannot be thwarted, could compare us to clay on a potter’s wheel – subject to how things happen to unfold . . . a masterpiece in the making.

And also, that we really are Created with specific purpose in Mind.

12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

13 “Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
    Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
    has done a very horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave
    the crags of Sirion?[b]
Do the mountain waters run dry,[c]
    the cold flowing streams?
15 But my people have forgotten me;

So tender is the equilibrium of God’s creation that just one rebellion warrants consequence. Just one created thing or being out of place makes the whole thing askew. Though ultimately His goodness is not ruined, the whole of Heaven and Earth have been affected by the spark of an angel’s rebellion and subsequently, by our treasonous need to be redeemed.

The way this has played out in my singleness (lest you think I’ve entirely barreled off into a tangent) is me more fully understanding the problem with trying to arrange for myself the seasons and purposes of my existence.

Recently, I have seen that I haven’t been as faithful as I’ve been thinking.

Faithfulness is more than just showing up begrudgingly and because it is the disciplined thing to do. In order to be truly faithful, I have to be willingly obedient and operate according to my design and God’s direction for this season . . . not the seasons I presume to be coming some time in the future.

What faithfulness really looks like is me showing up with my whole self and my focus and my joy . . . not half straining from the corner of my eye to see how much longer I have to do things this way . . . not half holding out on investing in my own life as a janky, ill-fated attempt to make the merging process of marriage easier down the road . . .

When I live that way, I’m not actually trusting God with the fullness and enjoyment of the present, and I’m not trusting that the plans He has for me are not only good, but thorough. When I live that way, I’m forgetting that God directs the steps of the godly and delights in every detail of our lives.

As I’m planning to transition into my own space this year, I’m increasingly excited to press into a season of focus and more effective solitude and true faithfulness. I’m genuinely stoked to see what God does with my insides, and how that turns into good and beautiful fruit that can be seen.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is God who answers and looks after me. He is like an evergreen cypress. My fruit comes from Him.

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord. His going out is sure as the dawn. He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.

. . . & &

2 responses to “while i’m still single . . .”

  1. This was much needed! God is working on me, too. Psalm 51….create a new heart and new spirit within me. To clean you, He makes you see the ugly and purges it all out. There’s a lot in there and it’s a wild ride as you go through letting go of it.

    Thank you for writing this and thankful God showed me Jeremiah.

    Like

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