Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Blessed Are Those

"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the kingdom of God is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

This familiar passage stood out to me tonight.

For some time now I have desired to do missions work overseas, and I struggle with being patient through this season of preparation, waiting, gathering resources.
Most days I am content. I am blessed to work with children on a regular basis and it keeps me happy and fulfilled. For the past 6 months or so I also had the opportunity to care for my Great Grandmother as she needed more and more care. I held her hand till her fingers grew too stiff to bend without pain, and was at her side when she passed. It was a joy to have this opportunity, and I knew I was needed at home.

Yet still deep in my heart is this burden for the children overseas who are so desperate for love and care, and the desire to use my gifts in photography to bring awareness to so many in my country and others that are oblivious to their cries.

And this passage is an agreement, a promise, in many ways.

"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

He will comfort us as we mourn my GG's passing.

"God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied."

I will see His justice fulfilled.

"Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise Him, all you people of the earth. For He loves us with unfailing love; the Lord's faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord! " -Psalm 117

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Single for Christmas

It's that time of year again!

When extended families get together again under one roof and husbands and wives determine once again to get along with their inlaws for the sake of the Christmas spirit. Friends, family and coworkers exchange gifts and those brave volunteers stand outside Wally World ringing their bells in the freezing cold wishing all a Merry Christmas... ah, it must indeed be the holiday season.
But for some, the spirit of the season isn't so quick in coming. Whether it be the loss of a loved one and coping with the reality of traditions of the past that must now be broken and learning to live and be happy again, or a loved one is deployed overseas and you feel alone. Whatever the case may be, I pray you are not alone in the physical, and know you are not alone at heart.
But today, something I wish to write about as I feel it keenly this season, is the dreaded "S" word. Maybe not the one you're thinking of. I speak of Singleness.
I am incredibly happy for my friends and acquaintances who have found happiness and joy in a relationship--one of my friends became engaged today! I smile and rejoice in their excitement.
Yet here I (and I know I'm not alone in this) sit alone in my room, reminded once again of my singleness. It isn't so bad, really. Usually I am quite happy. But sometimes, even I am lonely and desire what I see so many of my dear friends experiencing. And I ask myself the inevitable: WHY?

Why do I concern myself about abstinence, about purity of heart as well as mind and body?
Why not go out with a new guy as often as it might take to find a "decent" one?
Why do I care? Even the majority of the "Christians" I know are or have been very inappropriately involved with the opposite sex, many without regret, most without true repentance (remember repentance=change of direction).

One answer that comes to mind is obvious--I desire to save myself for my future husband, and to be faithful to him not just after marriage but before. That is a good reason.
Buuuuut not good enough for me.
Because reason asks (and I must be honest with myself), "well what if you never marry? What if the man you DO marry made mistakes in his past and hasn't saved himself for you? What if?"
And then, in search of an answer, my focus shifts deeper. To the heart. My heart.
Yes, I want to give myself only to my husband one day and will be faithful to him to the best of my ability even now, and regardless of whether he has done the same for me.
But the most important thing must not be forgotten, or else all purpose in waging war on desire and temptation which leads to sin is lost and I am overcome. I must remember this timeless, unchanging truth:
I may not be a bride by the world's standards. While my friends discuss their gowns, bouquet selections and future lives with their husbands-to-be I do my best to share in their excitement. I truly am so happy for them! Their happiness is a dream come true for me too.
But I'm not in their shoes.
Yet despite the world's standards, I AM a bride. By the standards of the One who means more to me than the entire world.
You see, I walked down the aisle for the first time when I was a little girl. I said my vows, and was joined forever to my Savior, Jesus Christ. So my commitment to be faithful is to Him first and foremost. All else... well, it's just the frosting on the cake.
My eyes are on His love, and it is enough. Because I choose to love Him.
                                                       Even IF.

So if you're like me, and still seem to be going at it alone, remember that:

One, you aren't alone. Jesus waits at the altar of your heart. Say your vows. Renew them if you need to. He's there, waiting.
Two, you are complete in Him! You are not half a person just because you're only half a couple! Find what He has for you and run after Him. It might just involve a significant other, but there's only one way to find out.
Three, your commitment is to Him first. Your value is not dependent on any man.
And lastly, His grace and power are sufficient. He will not tempt beyond what you can bear. I know it isn't easy. I would be dishonest if I said it was. But it doesn't have to be like a trip to the dentist office every day of your life.
Go. Drink some hot chocolate, steal one of Santa's cookies (I KNOW he won't notice or care), join your family, find a friend. You'll be okay, I promise. :)