Today was a phenomenal time in my church community. Over 40 people were baptized this weekend in three services. Attending church services alone is a challenge and somewhat of a distraction that I must overcome to fully enter into an attitude of worship. I’ve begun making arrangements ahead of time to meet up and sit with another woman and this has been a support and encouragement for us both.
Today, I really felt the Lord speak to me through the songs and the retelling of the gospel through the eyes of Pastor Brad Young. Most Sundays, I sense the Lord speak through some word of encouragement, affirmation or challenge from the scripture. Today, however, was one of those rare moments of clarity, nothing short of an epiphany (albeit an obvious one) I had simply missed until now.
First, some background. When discussing the loneliness that undeniably results from losing a spouse, the question comes, “If you had opportunity, would you marry again?” I don't do well with hypothetical questions at the best of times, and this is difficult to know. I'm still deep in the grief journey and though I miss the companionship and intimacy, I would certainly not consider it again for quite some time. There is much healing that needs to happen before I could be whole enough to enter another relationship. As I told a friend, “Perhaps, God willing, my life may include someone, at some point, who will be free to receive all I have to give and be able to return the same.”
As I examine that statement honestly, the scales seem weighted more heavily on the second part: someone who can give fully of himself. I blush at my egocentricity. If any of us come to a relationship, friendship or marriage from the point of our own need, it is practically doomed from the beginning. Some of us may cling to a romanticized notion of finding that one person who “completes” us. These expectations are often based on a Disneyized distortion that my spouse's primary role is to ensure I live "happily ever after". This ignores the reality of living in a fallen world. Too often, when the lustre and newness wear off, these unrealistic expectations bring disappointment, criticism, disillusionment, resentment and eventually (half the time), divorce.
Only Christ completes me.
I know this, theologically, but I’m still learning what it means experientially to be complete in Christ. I have been seeking for some time to live in wholeness, but this is a process of growth and maturity that simply takes time. There is SO much more depth to plumb in my intimacy with the Lord, to freely allow the Spirit’s voice and presence to be a constant reality and to surrender to God’s overwhelming love.
It is an unreasonable standard to expect another person to “receive all I have to give and return the same”. An impossible dream and an onerous burden to lay on anyone's shoulders. Today in our worship time, the Lord made it very clear to me:
“I am the One and Only who is free to receive all you have to give and I return far more than you could ever imagine.”
Oswald Chambers writes that God’s purpose in using loss and dark clouds in our life is "to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, where other people are but shadows." (italics mine)
Can I come to this place in my life, where I am so taken with God that "the things (and people) of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace"? God is so much more than simply a provider of good gifts, so far beyond being a supplier of goods and services or a divine matchmaker. He doesn't just give us what we ask, he is the great I Am. Emmanuel, God with us. Sometimes, in wisdom, he may withhold what we ask so that he can give us what we truly need:
He gives us Himself.
He is the only one worthy to receive all we have to give. And he will not stand by while we chase after people (or things or activities) to fill the longing of our heart which only he knows. That inconsolable longing only he is able to meet - far beyond our wildest imaginings.
My Prince has come.