Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Gift of Single... at 43

If God simply granted wishes, I'd have married a high school sweetheart (and, of course, lived happily ever after - preferably in a cute little farmhouse on some land somewhere where it never goes above 80 degrees).

If He simply answered prayers, I'd have most certainly married by 43.

But, sometimes He gives us gifts that we don't want, aren't quick to see the value in and would never ask for. 

It's only taken me about 40 years to begin to discover the gift that singleness can be (and to stop rolling my eyes and huffing whenever I read 1 Corinthians 7:7).

   "God gives the gift of single life to some, the gift of married life to others."

(I can't be the only one to have read that and thought "Psh... if it's a gift, where can I exchange it?")

Yes, it is a much simpler life. Less complication. Less 'hassle'. Less mess. 
But, also less companionship. Less communication. Less support.

Point being: there's good and bad to most everything. And I believe Paul is just trying to help us to realize that God is a giver. And whether you find yourself married or not, it's a gift. Not only to be received, but to use. In both regards.

Don't waste so much time and energy resenting the gift that you've been given, that you miss what the gift beholds.

In my 20s, I just expected to get married. It was all but given. It's what you do. Go to college, meet someone, graduate, get married, have kids, get a career, retire, play with some grandbabies... boom. 

In my 30s, I fluctuated between being bitter and resentful that it hadn't happened for me yet (when it seemed to fall into place so easily for everyone else) and holding out hope that it still would somehow for me. 
Wrong again.

In my 20s, I didn't regard the gift at all. 

In my 30s, I focused solely on the gift of marriage and wondered if mine had somehow gotten lost in the mail, wondering if there was some sort of tracking number I could get my hands on somewhere. 

Now in my 40s, I can honestly say that my focus has shifted. From the gift to the Giver

I still have a great desire to marry. But, I desire Him more. I still long for intimate companionship, but He knows me better than anyone else ever could. And loves me unconditionally. I still would love to talk to someone besides myself or my cat when I get home. But, He is always available to talk to, is the best listener you can find and even answers if you give Him a chance.

I believe that God has brought me to this place, so I can know Him in ways that would have been hard for me to know if I were married. Seeking His counsel, trusting His protection and provision, focused solely on Him and the things of His heart and resting in His loving arms.

What a beautiful gift indeed.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017


So, I love Dr. Tony Evans.
He's just such a dynamic speaker and uses such great illustrations to convey the Word.
I had recently read 'Detours' and loved it, so was wanting more from him when I saw his newly revamped 'No More Excuses' book offered with his daughter Chrystal's 'She's Still There' and couldn't resist. 
I realize it's for guys, but truth is truth and we could all use some of that. And I just change out any "his" for "hers" and "brothers" for "sisters" and it's all good. :)  And, I figured it may just give me some insight to the male psyche, which couldn't hurt, should I ever need that down the line.  ;)

In 'No More Excuses', one of his chapters addresses stewardship. Not a common topic in the secular world, but certainly not a new concept in the church. We're often told "be a good steward of your time... of your money..." which, to me, always meant to be mindful, or responsible of your resources, in a nutshell. But, I love the way Tony illustrates stewardship.

He says:  A steward in Bible times was someone who administered or managed another person's property. Therefore, a steward didn't own anything, but he oversaw everything for the owner. He was accountant, foreman, field boss and office manager, all rolled into one. It was a position of great responsibility.

He then goes on to use Joseph as an example:
A biblical illustration of stewardship is Joseph in the house of Potiphar, the Egyptian official who bought Joseph as a slave.
According to Genesis 39:6, 'Potiphar left all that he had in Joseph's charge.' When Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph, his reply showed that he understood his role. He told her 'Behold, because of me, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?'

So, the nature of stewardship is very easy to grasp. A steward owns nothing, but he manages everything. When a steward starts acting like he owns his master's stuff, there are problems. (See Luke 16:1-2)

God owns everything because he created everything.
He's the owner; you and I are just the managers. 

At work, one of my jobs is to manage office supply inventory and order accordingly. Because it's not my money, but rather the company's, that I'm spending, I try to be as frugal and responsible as possible. I know that to some extent, I am accountable for the money that's spent and I don't take that responsiblity lightly. I want them to know that I'm managing their money to the best of my ability. 

If only I were that responsible with my own money! :o
I've never been a huge shopper or spender, but let's just say, money management is not my spiritual gift. I just don't like thinking about it. I want to make enough to cover my living expenses with a little extra for play and good causes. Other than that, I'm out.
But, Tony's admonition challenges me to be just as mindful with my own money as I am with my company's. After all, it's ultimately His money I'm managing. And to manage it to the best of my ability. 

The test of our stewardship is whether God winds up with our leftover time, energy and resources, or whether we give him our first and best... Jesus is either Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.

The real issue isn't whether you worry, but whether God is first. If he isn't then you should be worried. Because that means you're assuming the responsibility of providing for your own needs. You are trying to act like the owner rather than just the manager who works for the real owner.

I don't know about you, but this concept gives me both a greater sense of relief and a greater sense of  responsibility. It's not mine, but rather it's all God's and only mine to manage. For Him. Whew.

God says that if I will look after Him, He will look after me. That doesn't mean I don't have to work, save and be responsible, but it does mean I can turn the worry over to the Owner. It's His stuff, so if something breaks, He gets to fix it. (And is way more able than me, by the way.)

A final example Dr. Evans provides is this:
Take a pair of newlyweds. They are deeply in love. Yes, they want a house one day, and they hope to get into a better financial situation. But they are content because there is great gain in their relationship. They enjoy just being together.
Ten or fifteen years later, this husband and wife are looking good in their designer clothes. Each of them has a car and a career. The home is nice. But wouldn't it be tragic if, in all they've achieved, they've lost that 'great gain' because now they are living like two strangers in the same house?
That could happen because money can buy a house, but it can't purchase a home. Money can buy you medicine, but it can't buy you health. Money can buy pleasure, but it can't buy peace. There's nothing wrong with houses, cars and careers, but when you leave out godliness, God says He won't give you great gain because it has to do with the things money can't buy.

The secret to being a contented steward is to have such a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ that it doesn't matter what your circumstances are. You're just tickled to death to belong to the Lord regardless.
The secret to real contentment is found only when Christ is dynamically at work in your life.

Put Him first.
Be a responsible manager of all you've been given charge over.
And see how He wants to use you and your resources.

Love Thy Neighbor

In talking with a neighbor the other morning, I learned that a fellow neighbor of ours had passed away recently. I was shocked, as he was rather young and saddened, as he was always one to have a smile on his face and greet you with an enthusiastic wave.
The girl who told me was sorry to hear of his passing as well as other neighbors who were familiar with Aaron.
I wonder if he knew the extent of his impact on the lives around him through a genuine smile and a simple wave. I hope he knew it didn't go unnoticed.
Rest in peace, my neighbor.
Hope to see that wave again some day.