A long time ago, I made a silly little pact with God. I wanted to pray for my future husband, whoever he really was, but I didn't know how. I could only pray in vague generalities. Then my affections locked onto a particular brother. Rather than exhausting my mental capacities in fighting it, as my stoic tendencies and the church culture seemed to dictate, I decided, instead, to pray for him.
If my thoughts were to turn to him every hour, at least I could turn those thoughts into prayers. The pact I made with God was that every prayer I prayed for him, could also be applied to whoever my future husband really was, assuming it wasn't him. I figured prayer could only help, even better if it helped two people at once. And learning the habit of intercessory prayer was certainly more beneficial than idle fantasizing. I don't know how God felt about that pact, but it was what it was.
Fast forward seven years. Now there is a brother who stands a good chance of being my future husband. Instead of imagining all the things he may be going through or that the Lord may need to do in his life, I can ask him, I can see for myself. Now, no longer are my prayers a young girl's attempt to make something useful out of a bunch of frustrating and potentially wasted feelings, but rather the earnest seeking of the very best of God's will for another human being whose life may end up inextricably intertwined with my own. I feel it is my duty to pray for Matthew. It is also my delight. And I don't even feel the need to make a pact like I did before - instead I'm just taking a step of faith that he is the one, and recognizing God's goodness in any agape love I have for him, regardless. The funny thing is, as God has given me a heart to pray for him, He is enlarging my heart to intercede for others as well.
Matthew and I spend New Year's together. I met his family, his friends, and his spiritual companions and mentors. We talked a lot, we did other things as well, like visit the High museum of art, drink Korean tea, and dance in the firelight. But the best part was the heartfelt fellowship and the prayer. It is amazing how our hearts beat with the same purpose, the same vision. Even though we came to it from such wildly different directions. Matthew, raised a Methodist, saved at the moment of his baptism, serving as a lay pastor, the heat and pressure of a missional life under attack by a secular college culture charting a rapid course of Christian growth. Me, anti-denominational, anti-clergy/laity, Christian since the age of 5, filled with the Spirit, sheltered and nurtured in a thickly Christian community, seeking a life of monastic purity and rigid discipline whilst God showed me freedom and richness of experience over and over.
When I first saw the vision of the glorious church life, the life of shepherding the saints, the life of hospitality and true communion in Christ, the life of a family dedicated, one hundred percent, to existing by God's grace and power as a light in this dark, dark world, I could not have imagined fulfilling it in the kind of setting God may be calling us into. (I hesitate to spell it out here, for one because it is still so tentative, and two because I yet fear it will be misinterpreted and judged by many dear to me.) But the point is, we are given to following the Lord, wherever He may lead. If there is any thing God has taught me it's that I can't limit Him, neither can I know exactly what He intends until He's done it. All I can do is pray, and walk in faith, one step at a time.
I wanted to write about my New Year's resolution (to observe the Sabbath truly and meaningfully). I also wanted to narrate the highlights of the last month (Christmas with family - this year including my sister and hers). I had planned photo slideshows (of my CSA veggie creations for one). I wanted to mention how God answered my prayers about serving the saints by sending an invitation to help lead a Bible study, out of the blue. I wanted to introduce what I will be expecting for school this term (Info organization and online marketing) and new developments at work (I'm guaranteed at Converse at least through June). I suppose now I've at least given those things a nod. But the one image that I can't get out of my mind, what I feel compelled to record, above all the others, is how I spent the turning of the new year - in my beloved's arms. They say how you spend New Year's day is a forecast of how you will spend your year. I say they are superstitious. But I also hope, in this case, that they're right.
- For patience to endure the years that may pass before we can act upon the love begun between us
- For clarity in all our dealings with one another
- For wisdom in Matthew choosing a seminary and discerning God's will for his path this fall
- For diligence in me remaining faithful to my studies
- For commitment in our relationships and responsibilities to those around us
- For healing from wounds opened by ones held dear and by circumstances
- For openness to God's penetrating, perfecting work in our hearts
- For contentment in the exact situations in which God has placed us - and eyes to see the work cut out for us where we are
- For God's perfect will, not His second best, unhindered by our impatience, assumptions of who we should be, or presumptions of what we should do
- For continued faith in the absolute, unfathomable goodness of God - especially when some facets of our lives don't bear immediate witness to it
- For the real influence of Godly counselors to point us to God, the path, and the truth
- For the daily presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us
- For a steady contact with the living Word of God.
I have to stop. It is so late. But God is good. Love is good too.