Then What?

What do you think of when you hear Cartier? Bentley? Personal staff? Private yachts? Multi-million dollar estates? What about, organic living and sustainable stewardship? Filling the pages of your passport? Dating the “hot” guy? Being the center of the social universe? Getting the job? And still, what do you think of in regards to the pursuit of positive thinking? Being a good person? How about the words, nipping, cutting, numbing or altogether altering yourself? If you answered “happiness”, “contentment” or “the life” to any of these, may you be encouraged by the Word of God this very day.

 

Although there is a myriad of ways to “better” ourselves or “make it” in the eyes of the world, if we are looking for fulfillment to embrace us behind any one of these—we will be sadly mistaken—each and every time. Why would this be?

 

Our society trains us to chase “big dreams” as are defined by the world. But, what does one do when such dreams are conquered? When the Cartier is now a few fashion seasons old? Or the evening is finally over and it’s time to go home? Or the passport book has indeed been filled? Or the medication begins to wear off? Then what? We have been trained to want things and passionately pursue them; yet continually come up frustrated when the sensation of pleasure fades away at the end of each conquest. At that time, many return for another hit—whatever that may mean for the individual. And if the same level of ecstasy cannot be reached as before, often times ways of supplementing the pleasure are then implemented within future pursuits. This vicious cycle of yearning for more is nothing new. In fact, King Solomon in all his splendor wrote many wise sayings regarding the human condition within the Holy Bible.

 

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 (HCSB)

 

When we realize that our pursuits apart from God were never meant to bring us contentment or lasting happiness, we need to return to the Lord with apologetic hearts. It is when we are willing to acknowledge our love for the things of this world over the things of the Lord, and sincerely repent of this idol worship within our own lives and hearts, that God is then able to redirect our gaze and do something truly new and exciting within our spirits. Listen to these encouraging words offered to those who place their hope in Jesus Christ.

 

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (HCSB)

 

How faithful is the Lord to take us back each and every time—in order to fill us with the very things we most desire—love that won’t go away, peace that will last beyond the storm, and comfort that will be our companion through all things. Praise God for His mercy and grace within each of our stories!

 

You see, whether you “live big” as defined by the world (as was the case for King Solomon (1 Kings 10:14-22) or Queen Esther (Esther 1-2) or “modestly” as was the case for John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3-4) or the women with only a tiny offering to bring to the temple (Mark 12:41-44)—God can use each of our stories for His glory—right where we are! You see, it is up to each of us to separate our eyes from the world’s idea of “success” and come to grips with the reality that contentment is found in Jesus Christ alone.

 

The Bible teaches that each and every life is valued to God (John 3:16-18). Thus, whether the world would define one as rich or poor, popular or an outcast, the eternal status of each soul is the same. We all are in need of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work (Romans 3:23-26). Regardless of where we are on this spinning rock today, may we fall to our knees and ask the Lord to use our lives to bring Him glory. May we use the gifts, talents and resources allotted to each of us to share of God’s hope, God’s redemption and God’s unabashed love story for each heart from each culture around the world! Ladies, the time is now—and it is time for the Bride of Jesus Christ, the Church, to unite under His banner of grace, forgiveness and new life (Ephesians 2:8, 1 John 1:9 & Romans 6:4). May we breath deep and embrace a fresh dose of peace that does not come from the world, but from our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:27). May we thank Him anew for placing us in this time in history and ask to be used to speak of His mercy (Isaiah 6:1-8).

 

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (HCSB)

The Allure of Forbidden Fruit

 

Oh, just one more time…who will notice? No one is looking. Just one more lie…who will know? I know this isn’t the way God wanted for me, but this is much better than what He had in store for my life. Besides, God must not have had all the facts before He made His rules. It’s not that big of a deal anyway, right?

 

Have you ever thought these things, ladies? I know I have. And unfortunately, I can speak from experience that better does not wait on the other side of disobedience. Whether big or small, disobedience is offensive to the Lord—like left overs that you find months later in the back of your frig…it reaks and must be dealt with.

 

During my undergrad, I went through dating relationship after dating relationship, convinced that I was going to prove something by making a mess of a man’s heart. I had so much hatred pent up in my heart as a result of my parent’s divorce—and I was not about to let someone get near to me again to cause similar destruction. Yet, I still wanted the attention and affection. I did not believe that I was of great value. I did not hold fast to the scriptures that state how precious life is to God (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 1 John 4:9). I was convinced that I could trust God, but not men. This was a major area that the Lord had to heal within my own heart before I would meet my husband a few years later.

 

I began to wonder if God had forgotten me. If God really had a plan and purpose for my life, where was He in the midst of my struggle? I knew the answer—He was walking beside me, encouraging me to let go of my own hatred and rebellion and return to the Lord. Yet, my calloused heart was not ready to give up the heat of my anger and rage. I had begun to take pleasure in attention from lustful eyes and starving myself from the food my body craved. I was a shell of who I once was. And as I looked into the mirror, I realized that I no longer knew the face staring back at me. What had I become?

 

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 4:5-6 (NIV)

 

As I was willing to confess my sinful and rebellious lifestyle to the Lord, it was as if something broke inside my heart. The desire and ability to follow the Lord had returned to my heart once more—and a passionate desire to follow close to the will of the Lord resulted. In that time, God taught me many things about myself and others. I learned how to accept love from a man in a pure way and not feel obligated to do something in return for his affection or attention. Perhaps you too can relate.

 

Maybe you have always felt like an outcast, but are now receiving attention that you have desired all of your life. What do you do with this new found attention or attractive men sending texts, messages or gifts? May I encourage you, ground yourself in what the Lord says about you before entering into a physical relationship with a man. If you do not know who you are in Jesus Christ, you will be easily persuaded to rebellion and wind up acting on emotions that will lead you into trouble or worse (James 1:13-15). Tell the Lord about each situation and/or individual you are feeling tempted to act shady with. God will always provide a way out from our temptations and struggles (James 1:5). God is faithful and you are declared as eternally beautiful and precious before the God of all creation through the finished work of Jesus Christ. You are not stuck in your situation, girlfriend. Allow Him to cleanse you and give you the victory over wrong choices that is found in Jesus Christ alone. You are worth it. Walk in truth.

 

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

1 Corinthians 15:57 (HCSB)