Monday, April 25, 2011

God's Rainfall

You know what's beautiful? Rain. Rain is beautiful. Have you ever seen a raindrop just barely clinging to the bright green branch of a fir tree? Or maybe it hangs off of pink flower blossoms on a dogwood tree. Have you pondered the beauty of a raindrop? Or what about the sound of rain. A steady, comforting shhshshhh as it drips and falls. It reminds me of a whisper. A whisper of God. I see and hear God in the rain. In its beauty and in its comforting sounds. Rain makes grass and trees look really, have you ever looked at the grass while it's raining? Something about the shimmering water falling makes the grass look its greenest as its roots soak up new life brought by the rain.

Today I went for a walk in the rain. Not a walk to get anywhere, not a walk with a purpose, just a walk, a time for communion with God in His creation. After all, the same God who created the Sun also created the rain. So why is it that we appreciate and find joy in the sun, but not in the rain? Why do we find the sun more beautiful than the rain? When the sun comes out we rejoice and we want to go outside to enjoy it. Yet we cannot stand God's other gift, rain. We hurry to our destinations, hunched over, trying to avoid the raindrops instead of basking in the glories of God's creation. I find this interesting, and I ask myself, Why? Why do we place the sun on a pedestal but shrink from the rain? Why do we make such a distinction between two of God's gifts? I say, revel in the rain! Find joy in the rain! God is there in the rain just as He is in the sunshine. Laugh in the rain. Find God's presence in the rain. Look for God's mysteries in the rain. Look and listen for the beauty of rain. And maybe you will enjoy the rain as much as I did today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sacred Singleness

"It is difficult enough to get among people, learn their language and customs, get acclimated and make all those emotional adjustments without adding the tremendous task of aligning to married experience. For the woman, it is even more difficult and there have been cases where family responsibility so absorbed the wife that she never has become a missionary, simply lacking time to make the social adjustment because of the multiplicity of domestic details." -Jim Elliot (quote from Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot)

Lately, I have been reading a lot of books on being content with whatever our relationship status may be (and for me, that is currently singleness). I have found that there are certain times when I am much easier about being single than other times. Living on a Christian campus where one cannot avoid couples even if one wishes too only adds to the challenge. Yet, I find myself quite content with my current condition, and have been realizing more and more lately that perhaps God is calling me to singleness for quite some time. Over and over I have been reading of the effectiveness of single missionaries, and since that is what I want to do with my life, maybe God has plans for me in the near future that do not include getting married. I will not pretend that I don't want to get married, it just seems that there is no time for a romantic relationship in my life right now. As I begin preparing for the mission field, I am glad that I am able to make decisions based on what I feel is God's calling in my life, whereas if I were in a relationship I would feel the need to consult my significant other in the making of those plans. Singleness is much simpler at this point in my life.

I am not a fan of the current trend among young Christian men and women to follow the pattern of the world in casual dating. I do not think that it is necessary for a young woman (or a young man) to have a string of relationships in their past, nor do I believe in jumping into a relationship without careful prayer and consideration. As Christians, we must become content with God's will for our lives, whether that includes marriage or not. Jumping after every chance to get into a relationship does not help us follow God's will, and brings more heartbreak than would otherwise be necessary. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot waited for six years before they sensed God's permission for them to marry. They were only married three years before he was killed. Are we willing to live with that kind of commitment to God's will?

I am not trying to offend anyone with this message, I'm simply trying to state that there is another option to the dating scene: waiting on God to direct our love story. The more I wait, the more I discover that perhaps God wants to use me in ways as a single woman that He wouldn't be able to were I married. And to anyone who is reading this, I ask that you consider this as well. What does God want for your romantic life? Are you focusing on your relationship with Him first before you focus on your relationship with the opposite sex? Does the romantic relationship that you are in keep you from focusing on God's plans for your life? Does it inhibit your willingness to go into all the world and preach the gospel?

Maybe you will dismiss this as the ramblings of a woman trying to find an excuse for her singleness. Well, that's your choice. All I know is that God has a purpose for every circumstance, whether single or not. And I want to choose to live for His purposes, not my own. Would it be hard to accept if God called me to an entire life of singleness? Yes. Would I accept it? Yes.


If you want to research further this idea of sacred singleness, here are some books I've been reading during my devotion time:

Sacred Singleness by Leslie Ludy
Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot