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Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. –Psalm 27:14

When we first started this blog, I was a single woman still grieving a breakup that had happened a couple years prior. I struggled to move on from that relationship even though I knew it wasn’t God’s will for me. Every year that went by became more distressing as I saw my chances at motherhood waning.

There were times during this period that I was blissfully aware of God’s presence and provision. I was content to wait for His best for me. I recognized that my singlehood brought unique opportunities to serve Him. Yet, there were painful stretches of time where I failed to see Him through my loneliness and despair. There were many difficult days. The years of being alone weighed on me. I constantly felt guilty because I knew that He was everything that I needed, and yet I still desired human companionship.

Today I am a married woman with three beautiful step-children. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for these precious gifts in my life! My husband is so loving and caring. He is very attentive to my needs and treats me far better than I deserve. He treats me so well that I have trouble accepting it. I never quite believed that anyone could care about me enough to treat me the way he does.

My step-children are sweet and respectful. They accepted me into the family almost immediately. Growing closer to them has probably been the most fulfilling aspect of my life to date. It was the day I met them that I knew my relationship with their father could work. I would not allow myself to fall for him until I knew I could love his children too. Really love them. It would not have been fair to the children or their dad if I could not.

I wish I could go back and tell my single self that she will be okay. I would tell her that the years of singlehood will be worth the wait. That God is setting everything up and not to lament the period of preparation. I would tell her that I couldn’t have met my husband sooner because neither of us were in the place we needed to be yet, but that it would make our meeting that much sweeter when the time came. People tried to tell me this, but I struggled to believe them.

That’s not to say that marriage and step-parenting is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard work. It’s draining. But it’s so rewarding. It is so beautiful. It is everything I hoped it would be.

God has been by my side through all of it. Through the lonely days that came before and the sometimes all-consuming days I experience now. God truly has our best in mind. He sincerely takes care of our every need. He loves us more than anyone else ever has or ever can. He is all in all. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

If you are single (or in some other period of waiting), please believe me, God is working things out for your good. He sees your struggle. He knows your tears. He’s allowing this trial in your life because He knows you are growing through it. Lean into Him and give Him all your cares. Put your trust in Him. His timing is impeccable.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

 

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Single and Seeking

CoupleI have previously mentioned on this blog that there is a lack of single Christian men in my church. To be precise, there are zero single Christian men in my local congregation. The truth is that there is a serious lack of single Christian men in the American church at large. A 2011 PEW Research study showed that there are eight single women for every one single man in the average congregation. Being a long time single with few talents and little beauty, that’s a pretty disconcerting statistic. How I could ever attract a man over the barrage of other single women available is beyond me. It is beyond me, but it is not beyond God. Yet the harsh reality is that unless things drastically change in the makeup of the church, there is a large number of women in churches today that may never marry.

For a long time I assumed that if I loved God and waited patiently, that He would just send the right man to me. My husband would just show up. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22), which implies to me that the husband does the finding. He should pursue after his bride. Therefore, I’ve never looked for a husband. I’ve longed for one, but not actively looked for one. But recently, a member of my church opened my eyes to the fact that my future husband cannot find me if I don’t position myself in a place to be found. The Bible doesn’t just say to ask, it also tells us to seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). I had asked for a spouse, but I hadn’t really sought for one. While I take all of Matthew 7:7 to be a reference to prayer, there is a difference between asking and seeking. Seeking implies some kind of action. The sister in my church asked me what I had done, what actions had I taken in finding a spouse. Not many. I have prayed. I have been faithful. I have waited patiently in the pew for almost eleven years for my husband to walk through those doors.

If we were to compare this search to looking for a needle in haystack (which is what it feels like), I have mostly just circled repeatedly around the same haystack expecting the needle to suddenly reveal itself to me. I have not dug down into the haystack pulling out individual straws in my search. I felt that actually looking through the straws meant I was not trusting God to reveal the needle to me. If it’s His will for me to be married, He will send a man to me, right? Well, yes, and no. He will send me a partner when the time is right, but it’s not likely to happen without any participation on my part. In the Bible, Rebekah had to participate by watering the servant’s camels. Ruth’s participation was even bolder. Ruth purposely went to Boaz (at Naomi’s suggestion) and uncovered his feet while he was sleeping, and lay upon his feet. I won’t take the time to go into the historical significance of what she was actually doing, but it was very forward. She was clearly making her intentions known to Boaz. She wasn’t passively waiting for him, she actively went to him.

This brings me to where I am now. Along with the sister who helped me to see that beyond asking, I should also seek and knock, several other well-meaning Christians have recently asked me what I have actively done to find a spouse. In another post I will expand on some of the things I have done and am doing to try to place myself in a better position to be found. I have sought to form a closer relationship with God, worked out a hidden root of bitterness over the way my last relationship ended, and went through a very intense spiritual battle to fortify myself against a particular weakness I have.

Reluctantly, I have also made myself a little more visible on social media. None of the other things I’ve done do me much practical good when there aren’t any prospects in my church (or even in my district), so I decided I needed to do something to widen the circle. This is fraught with a lot of uncertainty and not a few painful rejections. I’ve seriously been considering going back into hiding, but then I think of Rebekah M and her new found interest who she met through social media and I think perhaps it’s worth trying to stick it out awhile longer. I haven’t quite figured out where the line is between not doing enough and pushing too hard. In the end, it’s up to God. I still believe when I am ready and the timing is right, He will send me a companion. Until then, may God grant me the grace to keep waiting.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Rahab Gets Married

rings“As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.” ~ Thomas Adam

For those of you who have followed my Rahab series over the last two years, I have some exciting news! Hint – It’s in the title of this post. 😉 Yes, the lovely young woman referred to in these posts has gotten hitched.

This is significant because it represents a total separation from her past. As a woman who was forced to sell her body (by her own parents no less), she did not even dare to dream she would ever get out of her old life. She had resigned herself to the idea that she would have to endure her “profession” until she became too old to continue attracting clients. She often worried how she would support herself when that day finally came. The idea of marriage was so far beyond her realm of possibilities that she couldn’t even entertain the idea.

Starting when she was very young her father told her repeatedly that as a member of his family she belonged to him and had no choice but to do as he told her. He said, “Until you have a family of your own, you belong to me. And no one will ever marry someone as filthy and used up as you are. You will never find a man who is willing to marry someone like you.” He was the reason she became “filthy and used up”, but yet used that as the rationale that no one would ever marry her and that she was doomed to always be his property to be rented out as he pleased.

But God!

Oh how God can take all of man’s plans and turn them on their head! When the world saw someone who was filthy and used up, God saw a woman to be redeemed! Jesus Christ is still in the business of cleansing and making new! He took a woman of ill repute and completely turned her life around! She now knows the Lord; she has been delivered from her life of degradation, and filled with His Spirit.

God has seen fit to give her a godly man as a husband. Even by her father’s twisted justification, she is free from him by virtue of having been married. The thing she never thought possible has come to pass by way of Jesus Christ. God took a terrible circumstance and used it for both her and her new husband’s good. They met through a series of cruel tricks by both his parents and hers. He never saw the deception coming, fell right into their trap, and committed a serious mistake. By all outward appearances this should have ended very very badly.

But God!

This man repented of his sin, and became a representation of Christ to this woman who was so desperately lost in darkness. He modeled love. She was filled with anger and bitterness. She fought back at him with sharp words and a hateful attitude. He kept reaching out in the love of Christ. He ignored her hurtful behavior. Through every angry word and difficult encounter he continued to show godly love in a way that she had never seen. In fact, she had never experienced any kind of love at all. Not from friends. Not from men. Not from family members. Not even her own parents.

But God!

God used this man to show real love. And real love prevailed. Through it all God kept reaching for her. He did a miracle in her life. She surrendered to Him and it changed everything.

Her faith in Him is incredible. I have seen her grow in spiritual maturity so quickly. Her prayers are deep and strong. Her level of commitment is rare among Christians. She has already become a role model for the women in her church. She is a woman who knows what God has done for her.

There is no greater freedom than that of living for Jesus Christ!

Congratulations, Rahab. May your marriage be as strong and resilient as you have been. May the goodness and mercy of the Lord follow you both all the days of your lives. May you and your husband be blessed with a love that grows stronger every day and moves you ever closer to the Lord.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

More in the Rahab Series:

Being Rahab (Part 1)

Revisiting Rahab (Part 2)

The Faith of Rahab (Part 3)

Praying with Rahab (Part 4)

Survived Another Childless Mother’s Day

Phew, I have survived another Mother’s Day! Honestly, I feel guilty even writing that because I know there are many people for whom Mother’s Day is a much more painful event than it is for me. Especially for those mothers who have lost a child. I cannot imagine how unbearable that would be. And don’t get me wrong, Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to honor our mothers and all that mothers the world over have done for us.

But I struggle with it, and I know I am not alone in that struggle.

I wavered about whether to post this or not. It feels whiny, oh, poor pitiful me, and entirely too self-focused, but in the end I decided to go ahead and post it anyway because we strive to be real on this blog. My feelings – right or wrong, are very real, and as I mentioned, I know that I am not alone in these feelings. Perhaps another woman will read this post and know that she too is not alone in her pain.

When I was young, like most girls, I assumed that I would grow up to marry and go on to have children. In all the times I “played house” I never imagined a scenario where children would not be part of the equation. Recently I read an article by Melanie Notkin called My Secret Grief. In it she discusses the hidden pain of circumstantial infertility. Unlike the pain of medical infertility, circumstantial infertility is not caused because of some biological issue, but rather because (as the name infers) circumstances never lined up to make motherhood a reality. Notkin put down in words many of the things I’ve never been able to say.

If you are childless (not by choice), it can be difficult to express the feelings that go along with it. If you try, well-meaning people will say all kinds of things which sting and cut at you in ways they cannot comprehend.

As a Christian I struggle with the sadness it brings me. I know that I should be content with what I have (see Philippians 4:11, 1 Timothy 6:6, Hebrews 13:5), and mostly I am, but there are hard days. Really hard days. For the last few years, Mother’s Day has ranked among the top for really hard days.

I vacillate between trying to face reality so I can move on from my desire to be a mother and trying desperately to hold on to the hope that it may one day still happen. I don’t know how to give up my hope of being a mother, but I think I might be happier if I could figure out how to. The Bible says that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). As a never married, single, childless woman I know the truth of that verse all too well.

As My Secret Grief points out, when you get to a certain age if you are still childless it is assumed that you either never really wanted children or you just didn’t try hard enough. I have had countless people tell me I should just go out and find a guy to make a kid with. “Why wait for marriage?” they say. This world doesn’t understand the concept that fornication is a sin. Or they tell you that you should just get a sperm donor, or adopt.

Here’s the thing: I honestly think my child deserves to have two parents. They should have both a mother and a father who is present and active in their childrearing. I understand that this is not always possible and there are many many wonderful single parents out there, but it seems selfish to purposely put your child in the position of only having a single parent. Again, please do not think I am disparaging single parents out there. The majority of them work tirelessly to provide good lives for their children and should be commended for that. But to deliberately deny a child a father just because I would like to be a mother is unfair to them. Perhaps I could manage to get pregnant (this is still medically questionable) or adopt (financially prohibitive) without the presence of a husband, but for the sake of my children, I wouldn’t want to do that. In the eyes of the world this is seen as not wanting it bad enough. Trust me; I’ve heard enough comments to know the reality of this view. The truth is that I do want it that badly; I just don’t want it that selfishly.

I struggle with how heart-broken I am over being childless. I feel guilty because I think my desire shows an inherent lack of gratefulness for what I do have. And I have been blessed! Abundantly blessed! But the sadness and longing remain. God designed women to be mothers and most of us feel that pull to our very core. The Bible gives us seven examples of barren women in the Bible who later went on to give birth. What strikes me about them is that they all cried to the Lord over their situation. Granted, it was tougher in Biblical times because women were mandated to give their husbands children and those who could not were seen as cursed. It was a much more dire situation, but I have no doubt that the tears they cried were much like my own. The Bible says that Hannah prayed with great weeping (I Samuel 1:10). The King James Version says that she was in “bitterness of soul” and that as she prayed she “wept sore”. This was a woman who knew the heartache and sorrow of being childless.

Yet, all seven of these women had husbands. I cannot cry to the Lord for a child (though I have) until I first have a husband. And time has so quickly passed me by. I had to give up an ungodly relationship when I was saved – knowing confidently that the Lord would provide for me. I waited five years to meet a man in the church, but there just weren’t any. I found a sweet man who became a Christian. I wasted five more years of my life on that man and he ended up getting another woman pregnant while we were together. Heartbreaking.

We are told not to be unequally yoked, but there are literally NO single men my age in my church. I know of a total of two single men (both younger than me) in our entire church district. I know dozens of single women in this same age group. And I am not confining myself to a man within a few years of my age. I’m talking within a 15+ year age range; there just aren’t any available men. Let alone a man that would be a good match for me and I for him. It’s difficult to remain hopeful.

Well-meaning friends and relatives tell me that they miss the single life. They wish they had more time for themselves and for the Lord. I have no doubt this is true. If I were married with children, I too would miss my current single life at times. But most of the people who have said this to me weren’t single for all that long. They moved out of their parent’s houses and within a few short years they were married. They never had that much time to themselves. I moved out of my parent’s house seventeen years ago. Seventeen long years ago. I’ve come home to a silent, empty house day after day, week after week, month after month, for years and years and years on end. Most of the time, I’m okay with this. Most of the time, I am content in the Lord. But there are days. Really hard days.

Mother’s Day is especially difficult because I feel I am mourning the family I never had. My pastor, bless his heart, loves to make a big deal out of Mother’s Day. I actually really appreciate him for this because mothers deserve to be recognized for their endless hours of tireless sacrifice for their families. The work they do is acknowledged far too little. Mother’s Day is the one day that people set aside to honor them. It is wonderful and important. But it is difficult. More than once I have been the only adult woman left in the congregation after he calls all the mothers to the front. I want to sink into my seat and just disappear when that happens. I don’t want anyone to see me sitting there by myself and pity me. For the last couple of years, I have made it a point not to be in the sanctuary when this happens because it is just too painful for me.

Is it selfish? Yes. Yes, it is. Mother’s Day is not about me. I should be there to encourage and honor the godly women in my life who give so much for their children. But I hide. I hide because I can’t stand the feeling. I can’t stand how every year someone will say to me, “Next year” when next year never seems to come.

But the day comes and goes and I find after it’s over that I have survived. I’m still breathing. I’m okay. The Lord has granted me strength to get through another day. He is my Provider. He is my Comforter. He is my All-in-All. And after all the feelings have passed, I am reminded that faith is not a feeling. I am blessed. The Lord is MIGHTY in my life. He is my Strong Tower. He is my hope. He is my Loyal Friend and Husbandman. He is enough. I so love and appreciate Him for that. When I feel I am alone, I am never alone. He is with me day after day, week after week, month after month, for years and years and years on end.

And He is with you too.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

His True Face

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” ~ 1 John 4:11-12

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…..The King will reply, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:35-36; 40

When we move in love, especially when such a walk is new to us, one question reigns supreme. How do we love a God we cannot see? How do we love a God we have never seen, and will never see until our time on earth is done? Sure, we worship. We praise. Hopefully our hearts and spirits are stirred by such things. But to actively love on a God we can’t see? I mean it isn’t like we can go up to the guy and just give Him a big hug, you know?

But there is an answer. See, even if we have a God we can’t see, we have a person standing in front of us who we can see, and see clearly. Love on them. When we do, God’s love is made complete in us.

Note how this verse doesn’t say ‘made complete in you.‘ No. This act takes two. When we love one  another His love is made complete in us. When you love another, your spirit stirs. But His is awoken and made complete in both you and the person you’re loving. And since God Himself is love…well there’s your answer, isn’t it?

How do you love a perfect God you can’t see? By loving the broken one in front of you that you can see. Look closely into their eyes, let yourself see them, really see them. The eyes of Jesus Himself are staring back at you. He is truly residing in the least of these – don’t miss His presence just because it’s cloaked in shabby clothes. Don’t miss His beauty because it’s masked by a not-so-beautiful smell.

The face of Jesus is young. It is old and weathered. It has a gaze of brokenness, bearing years of pain and loneliness and abandonment. It is sometimes hidden behind a mask of hostility because at its core it is a vulnerable face. It is a face that remains hopeful despite all circumstances; or it is a face that reached its breaking point long ago. It’s a face you pass every day without a thought; it’s a face you’ve never seen before.

It’s the face in front of you.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Guest Post: Anna Robinson “Is following Jesus just about being nice?”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. Thank you Anna for this great post reminding us of what following Jesus is all about! 

Being nice is something I think us Brits are very good at. We form orderly queues, we don’t like to offend, and we say “sorry” a lot. And sometimes we transfer that into what it means to be a Christian, so that our external expression of being a follower of Jesus is just simply that we are “nice”.

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(image source http://goo.gl/l5jkHW)

Strange, really, because anyone who’s ever looked seriously at the Jesus in the bible would not simply describe him as “nice”. And as we’re called to imitate Him I wonder why we’ve ended up with all this nice-ness.

Was Jesus encouraging? Yes.

Was He kind? Yes.

Was He Compassionate? Yes.

But He wasn’t just those things. He spoke with authority. He operated supernaturally. He loved radically. He challenged his disciples, the Pharisees and the crowds. He spoke to the heart of people. His words were divisive.

We often assume that to love someone is simply to be “nice” to them. But Jesus gives us a much bigger picture of what it really means to love. It’s easy to imagine the Pharisees squirming at some of the challenge that He brought to them – I’m guessing it didn’t feel that “nice”. And yet we know He wholeheartedly loved the Pharisees, just as He loves us.

And then there’s the Rich Young Man in Mark 10. The text says that Jesus looked at him “and felt genuine love for him”. This was a sincere conversation of love. But Jesus loved the man too much to leave him unchallenged. The Rich Young Man genuinely wanted to know what he needed to inherit eternal life. And Jesus gave it to him straight. He didn’t skirt around the issue, trying to be “nice”. Jesus challenged the young man to sell all he had and then follow Him.

And I’m guessing Zacchaeus nearly fell out of the tree when Jesus asked if he could visit his house. Nobody “nice” or respectable would want to spend time with a man like Zacchaeus, as the crowds around at the time inferred.  But as Zacchaeus was confronted with the love and holiness of Jesus he saw himself for who he really was, and it led him straight to repentance.

And He doesn’t skirt around the issue with us either. Jesus wants His followers to be more than just “nice”. He wants spirit-filled sons & daughters, friends, servants who will respond to both the challenge and invitation that he brings.  And He wants us to overflow with that kind of double-edged love that He has poured into us. As followers of Jesus we have the same spirit of God living in us that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 8:11). It’s more than just nice.

And the extravagant, overwhelming, death-defeating love that Christ demonstrated when, for all of us – “nice” or not – he went to the cross and bled and died is so much more than nice. It’s astonishing, breathtaking, outrageous, life-changing, challenging, full-of-grace-and-power love.

Sometimes we have to unpick how our culture affects our faith, so that we’re able to stand back and see with fresh eyes who our Jesus really is, and how He really calls us to live.

Let’s let this love change us – we’re called to be so much more than “nice”.

The Robinsons are a lovely bunch from Sheffield, UK. They love God and are passionate about showing and sharing Jesus to the community and helping others do the same. They lead 3dm Europe and they’re part of the Order of Mission – a relational network of missional leaders. To learn more about the Robinson Family check out their blog at: The Robinsons today!

Revisiting Rahab

Hope in ChristBy far the post on Being Rebekah that has received the most views was a post called Being Rahab. Over a third of the views for all of our posts combined are for this one post. I believe there is a divine reason for that. At the end of that post I asked our readers to pray for the young woman the post was written about. If only a tiny fraction of our readers whispered a prayer for her, there have still been hundreds of prayers that have gone up with her in mind. That is a miracle in and of itself. Today, I have an exciting update to share with you all. I believe the combined prayers of many people have had a hand in the mighty move of God that is occurring in her life. If you have not read the original post, I encourage you to read it here so that you can share in magnifying the Lord with me.

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to the country where this woman lives and got to spend some time with her. It was a very difficult meeting at first because of the history between us. A couple of years ago she hurt me very badly by getting in the middle of, and effectively ending, the relationship I had with someone I had assumed I would marry. During this meeting with her she shared some information with me that made me realize the guy I was with, although not completely innocent, had much less control over the situation than I thought. I already knew that he had been tricked and that he had fallen into a trap of the enemy, but I didn’t know that he had so little control over the events and that his attempts to stop it from happening were ignored.

I found myself crumpled on the bathroom floor crying afresh over everything that had happened. I was very angry with her and it was only after I called upon the Lord that He began to give me a new perspective on things. He helped me to see things from her point of view. He reminded me of the unbelievable pain and abuse she has suffered in her life. Those early years in her life clouded her judgment on everything and led her down a path of unbelievable degradation. While I cried on the bathroom floor, the Lord brought healing to my heart and renewed my compassion for her. I prayed that God would meet her there and that somehow she would be saved.

Afterwards we had an amazing conversation where I was able to tell her that I forgive her and to share with her the amazing forgiveness of the Lord. I even had an opportunity to pray for her. While she doesn’t know the Lord, I am sure that she must have felt His presence in the room while I prayed. She thanked me before I left.

Now for the really good news. On Sunday, for the first time ever, she went to church! She lives in a predominantly Buddhist/Taoist area of the world and has been deeply entrenched in that tradition. She has many idols in her home, but something in her is hungry for the One True God! She wants to be set free from the bondage she has been in all her life. She took a chance that Jesus Christ is real and despite all her fear, she went to a Christian church! God touched her there. She even went to the altar and cried out to the Lord, asking for His forgiveness and she prayed, “If you are the real God, please help me.” We serve a wonderfully loving and compassionate God so I know He will not ignore this sincere prayer.

I praise the Lord for His goodness!! He is a mighty God who is able to break the barriers of tradition, culture, language, past hurts, resentments, fear, abuses, and sin to reach a soul. His love never fails! He never stops reaching for the lost.

Please continue to pray with me that this woman will come to truly know the Lord for herself. Pray that she will be saved and that her life will be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. He is able!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

**There’s a Part III! Read the followup to this story at: The Faith of Rahab!!