Chapter 18: Forever
I cannot believe that I've been reading Lysa's awesome book for eighteen weeks. Eighteen. That's 1-8. Four and a half months. Wow. It's been a blessing for sure. Thanks to Lysa for her willingness to be real, open, and honest. But mostly, thanks to her for being obedient to God in writing this book. Fortunately, I won't be saying goodbye to Lysa nor this topic. I will be leading my ladies' small group in the Bible study that accompanies this book. We begin next week and I've been anticipating and excited since November when I found out she was writing a study.
Lysa's first sentence in this last chapter struck me. "It was one of the most beautiful marriage ceremonies I'd ever attended." In my heart of hearts, I thought, just like mine. Many people said mine was so beautiful and meaningful. I was told that there wasn't a dry eye in the church. We created our own ceremony and it was filled with God everywhere. We were both asked if we had committed our lives to Jesus Christ and then also had words of committed to Jesus throughout our marriage. That may sound very hypocritical considering the state of our union now: still united in God's eyes but not everything as God would desire at this point. My life as it is now, I can't focus on being a bride to a man but rather for this time I'm a bride to my Bridegroom Jesus alone.
I love what Lysa says here: "We were made for the greatest love story of them all. We were made to fall in love with Jesus." Those to me are such sweet words. We were made to fall in love with Jesus. And praise the Lord that I've done that. If I've done nothing else right in my life, I'm thankful that He led me to Himself. That He wooed me with His love. That He captivated my heart.
Stay with me as I process this. But Lysa touches on something that Beth Moore has been saying in her study, Esther. I'm going to try to formulate and process it as I write these words. Lysa shares how she had regrets and had not saved herself for her wedding day. She's not alone in that one, I'm positive. However, she's made peace with her past and realizes we cannot go back and change things. Oh how I'd love to change some of my past. To make right my wrongs. "My journey through life helped me grow a heart totally and purely devoted to Him." Beth says "we cannot amputate our history and fulfill our destiny." She is saying we can't be all that God wants us to be without our past, without our history, without our mistakes and regrets. I can hear Beth's sweet southern drawl (from her CDs) on this emphasis as she repeatedly says "are you hearin' me ladies? Are you gettin' this ladies?" Do we? Do we get what both of these ladies are saying? We can't be the person God is preparing us to be without the journey, without the history. We aren't going to be the person destined to be without journeying through life with our experiences, good and bad, in tote.
Now let's get back to this business of falling in love. Just like with any one and any relationship, love doesn't just happen. We don't just wake up saying "I love you" without putting action behind it. Relationships take time being invested, spent, and shared together. Jesus wants the same. "We will only fall in love when we draw close, deepened our understanding of Him, and seek to do life with Him." Seek to do life with Him.
Lysa momentarily touches on the imperfect heroes of faith. My mind immediately thought of David. I did the study, A Man After God's Heart, this past summer. I'm awed, yet blown away, yet fascinated that a man who could do such terrible things could also have this "title" placed upon him. A man who slept with another man's wife. A man who killed. A man who was deceptive. Yet. Yet, he was a man after God's own heart. To me there is no greater honor than to be called a man or woman after God's own heart. But David was a sinner. He had a past, a terrible past. He had ugliness in his history. That doesn't matter. Just like our pasts. They are what they are. We cannot dwell there but rather live today. Live today with Jesus. Life with Jesus.
The next subtitle Lysa has is Abandon. Oh how I don't like that word. It brings pain to my heart. It brings memories of the worst time in my heart. Is there anything more heartbreaking than to be abandoned. Whether it is from a parent, a friend, a spouse. I've experienced the latter two of those and I'd not wish that on anyone. Abandonment is worse than death. Worse than being separated by death is to be separated by abandonment. It is defined as "to leave completely, to forsake." Just that word makes my toes curl. To forsake someone. On the flip side, I know that no matter who else may forsake me in this life, Jesus will NEVER forsake me.
If we look at all sides of the word abandon, Lysa says it also plays a crucial role in every love story. Love? How can we associate such a negative word with such a joyous experience? Because it shows up in most all wedding vows. In sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live. "This forsaking all others is vital to a successful marriage...Leaving behind anything that would hinder the commitment." Wow. Those are very tough words to hear as I long for my failed marriage to be restored to a successful one, where all else is forsaken. If only these truths would have been made known and clear...
"Everything I have. Everything I own. Everything I hope for. Everything I fear. Everything I love. Everything I dream. It's all Yours, Jesus. I trust You in complete and utter abandon."
I abandon it all for the sake of the call.
Let's never be like the rich young ruler in Luke 18. "Instead of forsaking the trappings of this world, he chose to forsake the love his soul was made for."
Utterly surrendered to God's plans. That is exactly what I want to be. I want to do what causes God to pause: complete abandon to my will and utterly surrendered to Yours, God. Utterly surrendered. Utterly. Surrendered.
I can sometimes be goal oriented. Or at least I can set goals and set desires to complete certain things but I may not complete them as quickly as I'd desire. That gush of motivation gets beat down by life, laziness, and lack of motivation. Goals are all fine and well as long as they are kept in the right perspective and priority. "But when having a goal takes your focus off God and His daily intentions for you, it can cause trouble." Basically, when we are too busy focused on the future and on the things we've just got to complete, then we don't focus on today, the moment right now, or this second. Lord, may I always be open to your unfolding invitations.
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means that we desire God's revelations in our life more than we desire our own carefully constructed plans."
Striving to say and be...Yours God.
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