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Meeting Isaac

I have been woefully neglectful in keeping up with this blog. In fact, it has been over a year since my last post! And what a year it has been! I have MUCH to update you on. In my last post I was lamenting my long time single status and sharing that I was intentionally putting myself “out there” a little more to better position myself to be found by the one God had chosen to be my partner in this life.

Amazingly, just days after that post was written I met him! It was sort of by accident, though not by coincidence. After waiting years for the right guy to just show up at my church, I dreadfully joined a couple of Christian dating sites that espouse the doctrines of my local congregation. I was always against meeting someone online, but being very introverted and having no single guys in our church I finally started opening up to the idea. It was a pretty horrible experience. I talked to several men, all of whom were clearly not the one. There was the guy who outright told me that I was ugly. There was the guy who upon a Google search (yes, guys, we google you) was found to be on several porn sites in addition to the Christian dating site. There was the guy who rejected me because I wasn’t a virgin (I didn’t become a Christian until my mid twenties). He told me that he knew my past was under the blood, but he just couldn’t get past it. Then there was the guy who seemed great on paper, but in all of our conversations, he never asked me a single thing about me. I was good enough to date, but not good enough to actually get to know. His thinking was that I would be his helpmate which meant that I would be helping him with his ministry and therefore my dreams and goals in life didn’t matter. He was not interested in who I am as a person at all. I was very frustrated by these encounters and had almost resigned myself to being single forever.

Then one day one of my friends (who writes tech reviews for a living) asked for some volunteers to download a new app and tell her what we thought of it so that she could write a review. It was not a dating app, it was just a platform where ideas could be exchanged.  I decided to help her out and give this new app a try. Someone on the app posted something and I posted a response. While I was responding, someone else also responded. This sparked a conversation between the other responder and myself. The original poster never returned to the thread, but I hit it off right away with the other guy that had also responded. We talked all night long. In that very first conversation he already knew more about me than the last guy had learned in all the time we had been talking. We chatted for hours the next day too. And the day after that. I vacillated between being utterly drawn to him and holding back out of fear. There were a hundred different times that I almost ended the conversation because it seemed crazy that I was talking for so long to a stranger. He could be anyone. He could say anything and I would have no way of knowing if he was telling the truth. I was very nervous about the entire thing. I always jump ship even when there is no sign of a leak so I kept having to remind myself that he hadn’t said anything wrong yet. I kept reminding myself that I had committed to putting myself out there a little more and that until he gave me a legitimate reason to end the conversation there was no need to do so. He didn’t know where I was or any identifiable information about me. The worst thing that could happen would be that I would have wasted a few hours of my life.

I learned that this man was raised an Orthodox Jew, but had converted to Christianity in his early adulthood. He had attended Bible College only twenty minutes from where I lived and that he lives only about 15 minutes from where I go to church. I was intrigued! Eventually, I gave him my number so that we could text directly. After a while he asked if he could call me. I said yes, and then didn’t answer the phone when he called! At this point, he still didn’t know what I looked like. I was sure once he saw me that he would run for the hills. I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed. We ended up connecting on Facebook. It was after we connected there that I could see he was probably being truthful about the things that he had told me so far. His Facebook page had been created years prior so I knew it wasn’t likely to be a fake account. It also confirmed the things he had told me and it started to put me at ease. Amazingly, he wasn’t scared off by my profile picture. Ha! Eventually, we met in person (in a public setting of course). That’s when things got real. He and I were a great fit! Only a couple of weeks before we connected I had made a list of all the qualities I would like in a husband. I wrote down 32 items and he perfectly matched 31 of them! Interestingly, the new app didn’t last long. It was shut down only days after we met. We like to think it only existed for that short time so that the two of us could meet.

We often joke on this blog that we are “looking for our Isaac.” Wouldn’t you know that this man’s Hebrew name is Isaac! There are many things that my “Isaac” had been prophesied to be. I never put much stock in these prophesies because I think that people tend to fit them to what they want rather than what is, but here was this man fitting every one of them!

I spent much time in prayer as I was getting to know him. I kept asking God to close the door if he wasn’t the one, but every time I asked this, the door kept opening wider. He began attending my church shortly after we met and has been faithfully attending since. I watched prayerfully as he interacted with my friends, family, and brothers and sisters in the Lord. I spent a lot of time on my knees while we were dating. I took some time off away from him to be sure he was the one.

Things moved quickly for us. Within a few months he had given me a promise ring. A few months later and we were engaged. Now a year after meeting him, we have just recently been married!

I never imagined that my life would change so quickly, but it has been an amazing journey. He is thoughtful and sweet. He treats me so well that I have trouble accepting it at times. He is not without flaws, but nothing has ever felt so right as knowing he is the one God meant for me. He is the one I have been waiting all these years for.

I cannot describe how glad I am that I waited. There were many times where I considered settling. There were times that I was tempted to compromise my holiness and standards. There were times when I was so lonely that I almost wished I lived somewhere where they do arranged marriages. That thought frightens me now. I could have missed out. I might have missed all of these blessings.

If you are still waiting for your Isaac. Please don’t give up or do anything you might later regret. If God has not said no to marriage for you, keep waiting for God’s best for you! Do not give up or give in to temptation. Keep waiting!

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.

Standards of Beauty

整形外科 - Plastic Surgery

整形外科 (Plastic Surgery)

I am currently on a company trip to Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taipei. This post is just an observation about the beauty standards that are prevalent here. It’s not really a spiritual post, it’s just some things that have been going through my mind since I arrived. I think it dovetails nicely with Rebekah M.’s last post, The Monster in the Mirror. Please don’t take this post as criticizing the culture. I am well aware that my own culture is just as flawed and has just as many ridiculous standards. These are just my thoughts and observations.

There is an impossible standard of beauty here. This is true the world over, but it seems especially prevalent here. It amazes me that I can take a walk and get handed packs of tissues from at least three different plastic surgery outfits on a single street.

Plastic surgery is increasingly common in the west, but it’s still pretty much relegated to celebrities and the super rich. Here, it’s not uncommon for your average woman to seek it out. There’s nose jobs to be had, chin chiseling (to get that impossible heart-shaped face), double eye-lid surgery, liposuction, and the surgery to help you get rid of your radish legs. In other words, surgery to change you from something perfectly normal to something supposedly more attractive. There’s even a strangely popular procedure to turn your areolas into hearts. Really? Who would want or need such a thing? Especially something that so obviously can only be accomplished through surgery?

All of the constant focus on beauty here makes me feel really insecure. I do not live up to my own culture’s standards of beauty and really don’t live up to this culture’s standard of beauty.

Honestly, I think those women with the extreme heart faces look weird. It’s unnatural. I think the surgery to get a double eye-lid is a disheartening attempt to appear more “western”. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but that’s sure what it seems like. And radish legs? Seriously? I always thought your thighs were supposed to be wider than your calves. This is considered something so ugly that it bears it’s own insult?

I guess it can be compared to the teenage obsession in the US to have a thigh gap. A few months ago I saw a picture one of our youth at church posted on her instagram account. She had photoshopped the picture in order to give the appearance that she had a thigh gap. It was a rather poor photoshop job so that’s how I knew and it made me so sad because she is a beautiful girl. An absolutely gorgeous girl actually. But there’s that impossible standard of beauty everywhere. Pretty girls are not exempt.

So I know it isn’t unique to this area, but perhaps because I’m in a foreign place it’s even more obvious to me. After all, we tend to do a lot more observing when we’re in an unfamiliar environment. Here most girls don’t flaunt their bosoms the way they do back home. You won’t often see low-cut tops, but you know what you do see? Super short skirts and shorts. Legs seem to be the body part of choice to show off. Therefore, they need to be perfect.

Then there’s the whitening creams, celulite reducers, fake eyelashes, and round contacts. The obsession to look…different…better…younger is everywhere. This goes far beyond the typical fat shaming which is done en masse, but also focuses heavily on things that are completely beyond personal control.

For example, being short is an insult. Being someone of short stature myself, I find it interesting. On the one hand, I love coming here and not always being the shortest one in any given gathering. Back home everyone is taller than me. Here, most people are still taller than me, but the difference in height is much less pronounced. I might be the shortest in a group, but it will only be by a few inches rather than by a foot or more. It’s an amazing feeling to be with a group of people and actually be able to talk to them face to face. I have spent my life literally looking up to people. Taller people are often unaware of how uncomfortable it is when they stand too close. The closer they stand, the sharper the angle my neck has to be at in order to look at them (keep this in mind when talking to small children). I sometimes wonder if this is the cause of my chronic neck pain, but that’s another story.

Anyway, this amazing feeling of not being quite so short here is dampened by the fact that here being short is an insult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone describe another person as “plain and short” as a way to say they aren’t worth anything. They don’t deserve a boyfriend etc. because they are so “ugly – plain and short”. It’s strange to me. Back home being short is just a description, it’s not an insult. Your friends might kid you about it, but you’ll never hear someone call a person short in the same way you hear people call someone fat; like it’s a horrible thing to be – but here you do. It’s strange to me. At least when you insult someone for being fat (which I’m not a fan of either) the person likely has some control over whether they’re fat. When you insult someone for being short, you’re insulting something that they have almost no control over. It’s determined almost entirely by genes. Good nutrition in early childhood can make a difference, but that isn’t something most kids can control.

I say all that to point out how ridiculous the standards of beauty are. There’s actually a ton more examples of this that I could share, but the point is that many of them are literally unattainable (or only possible with surgical intervention). People grow up hating themselves. Hating the bodies that God gave them. If only they knew that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Freedom from Harassment

For the past two years I have been dealing with blatant sexual harassment from a co-worker. It started when this man asked me out on a date. He was a pastor of a denomination similar to mine and had always been very friendly with me. Although not well known by the English speakers in my company, he was highly respected among the Hispanic employees (He is Latin American) and I was intrigued by him. I agreed to the date.

We had a nice time and I readily agreed to a second date. I began to wonder if it might be God’s plan for us to partner together for the work of the Kingdom. I wanted him to be the one, but I couldn’t shake this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something just wasn’t right. It was after the fourth date that I found out that he is married! He never wore a ring and had never mentioned a wife so I really had no idea. This was not even a case of him being separated, he is a fully married man! Obviously, that was the end for me.

But it was not the end. Not for him. Not by a long shot.

He refused to accept that I was no longer interested in him. He refused to back down. He would not leave me alone. He would beg me to give him a chance. He would come to my office and tell me the explicit things he fantasized about doing with me. He would tell me that I was in his heart and mind. He would plead with me to have sex with him “just one time. Just one time, por favor.”

Suddenly the man who had always seemed so friendly became aggressive and frightening. It didn’t matter how many times I said no, he wouldn’t stop. He began purposely trying to intimidate me. He would block my exit from my office. He would follow me into the women’s restroom. He would be waiting at my car when I tried to leave for the day. If I wrote all of the things he said and did over the last two years, you would be amazed (and perhaps judgmental) about the fact that I did not do more to stop it. For a while I was paralyzed by it. It was scary to me. I didn’t know how to handle it.

I determined in my heart that I didn’t want to be the reason that this man lost his job. He has a family to support. I kept praying that God would have mercy on him and grant him a heart of repentance. I prayed that he would get a revelation of God that would change his behavior. When things didn’t seem to change I began to pray that God would get this man away from me. I didn’t really care how it happened; I just wanted it to happen. I prayed he would repent and leave me alone. When it seemed he wasn’t going to do that I prayed he would transfer to another location in our company. When that didn’t happen I prayed he would find another job or quit. I just kept praying for God to get him away from me.

It took a while, but eventually I began to see things differently. God helped me to fight the battle spiritually. He helped me to recognize that this man is under the influence of Satan and he needs deliverance. He never changed his behavior, but the effect it had on me changed. I stopped being afraid. I stopped letting it linger in my mind. I just kept giving it to God. Somewhere along the way, the peace of God began to replace the negative thoughts and feelings I had. I began to focus all my prayers on his soul. He is a man who is spiritually in a very dangerous place.

Yesterday I got notice that this man is being laid off. Finally, he will be away from me. I pray that he is able to find another job quickly, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I feel relief. I find it interesting that it wasn’t until I found peace in the situation that the answer to my prayer came. I’m not saying that he is being laid off because of my prayers, but it is an answer to my prayer. I could have had him fired a long time ago, but I didn’t want to be personally responsible for him losing his income.

I have mixed feelings about this. I rejoice in my deliverance, but I grieve for his continued bondage. I pray that he does not become a problem for someone else. May God have mercy on his soul.

Have you ever experienced something like this in your walk with God?

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

The Filthy Mattress

mattress

Every day on my lunch break I take a walk. I find it’s good to interrupt my otherwise sedentary desk job with a little blood circulation and fresh air. There is a strip mall just down the road from my company so I usually walk to it and go around the back of the plaza before looping around front and back up the street to resume work.

A couple of weeks ago as I was walking around the back of these buildings I saw that someone had thrown a mattress out behind one of the stores. It appeared to be clean and fresh – it looked brand new!  On that particular day, it was warm and sunny with an ever so slight breeze. As I walked by the mattress, it looked so enticing. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie on a comfy mattress and watch the clouds drift by as the sun warmed my face in the cool breeze? It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest and relax. Of course not knowing where the mattress came from, I didn’t entertain the thought for long.

Day by day, as my walk took me by this mattress, I began to notice changes. After just a day it started collecting stray dirt kicked up by the wind, and falling leaves from a nearby maple tree. Within a few days, the corners started darkening slightly. After a day of rain, I noticed it had lingering water stains after everything around it had dried. It wasn’t long before the wet, dirty mattress became a breeding ground for all kinds of critters. The edges of the once bright mattress became black with mold and fungus. At some point, an animal evidently ripped a hole in the center and made off with some of the stuffing, the remainders of which lay strewn about the ground beside it. The once enticing mattress quickly fell into a state of filth and decay.

As I walked by this mattress for perhaps the dozenth time, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This is what neglect will do”.  You see, the mattress hadn’t done anything “wrong”; it simply sat there as mattresses have a tendency to do. In terms of time, it was still new; only a couple of weeks had passed. But in terms of quality, it was far from what we would describe as “new”. Indeed it now presents itself as used and worn out. Worse than that, it is soiled and repulsive. The problem is that it was neglected and left unprotected in the elements. On that first day, the elements had been friendly and inviting and did not seem to pose a threat to its integrity, but in short-order they destroyed the defenseless mattress. Had the mattress remained inside where it would have been shielded from the wind, dirt, rain, and critters, it likely would have lasted for years. Without protection, it lasted only days.

In that moment the Lord reminded me that it is imperative that I remain under the umbrella of His protection. It might be tempting to go out into the world to find some kind of relaxation, but it is an illusion. What looks inviting at first glance can quickly destroy us if we don’t have the proper guards in place. We must guard our hearts and minds. We must take heed where we go and what we leave exposed to the elements. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? So let us strive not to neglect the things of the Lord. Let us hold them precious and protect them. As we embrace the teachings and safeguards that the Lord has put in place to protect us, He is providing us with shelter and demonstrating His unfailing love.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Two Sisters

In Ezekiel 23 (read it here for NIV or here for KJV), the chapter talks about 2 sisters – Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah is, metaphorically, Samaria, while Oholibah is Jerusalem. Getting deep already, aren’t we?

To summarize the chapter: They weren’t the most well-behaved ladies, and this chapter refers to them repeatedly as harlots. They ‘played the harlot’ in Egypt, getting fondled and caressed even as young girls. They became children of God eventually, but didn’t stay faithful to Him. Instead, they lusted after and gave themselves to all kinds of other men from all different lands. The younger sister is worse than the older, not only lusting after the men who crossed her path but also the ones she saw drawn on the wall. In fact she went out of her way to send for them, based on these pictures, so she could give herself to them too. Naughty, naughty. Eventually, the things and people they lust after turn against them, expose them for the bad girls that they are, and destroy them. Painfully, I might add.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most uplifting chapter, but God spoke out to me about a couple of things. First, these girls started doing sexual things at a young age. The bible mentions them being young girls, and the men of Egypt ‘fondling’ ‘their virginal breasts’. On the one hand, this certainly isn’t demure behavior. On the other, how much control over their environment do young girls have? They may well have been forced to do this. Or perhaps, if they did indeed enjoy it, they enjoyed it only because it was all they knew. But then things changed. They went from living in the darkness to being children of God. Daughters of God. Knowing God, they now knew better. Yet, they didn’t change. They had a chance at redemption and forgiveness, and had they taken that chance this might be a very different chapter. The Bible, after all, is full of redemption stories. But they didn’t. The older sister, Oholah, upon becoming God’s, lusted after new men. The other, Oholibah, lusted after both new men and her past in Egypt.

The message is clear: once you know God, you know better. Yesterday’s events, however traumatic or beyond your control, do not justify today’s sin. Your environment is not and will never be an excuse – not once your environment also includes God (which it already does, thanks to a little something inside of us called the Holy Spirit). Have you made any excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”?

Then there is all the men they lusted after: idols. False idols. You know the list – money, attention, notoriety, material things. Maybe you lust after them too. And Oholibah lusting after her past life – the life before God entered it. With God is great freedom, but also great responsibility to uphold His standards and righteousness. There is joy in Him, greater than any joy that this earth can provide, but to the casual observer it looks like a lot of rules. To someone who hasn’t experienced Him for themselves, the list of standards is long and the payoff is short. To someone who doesn’t know God, Oholibah’s life before Him probably looks a lot more fun. And that was her line of thinking too. The things of her past that were sinful, were fun for her. And she missed them.

This is why Christianity goes so far beyond saying the words. We can’t just pay lip service to the idea of belonging to God. We need to actually abide with Him – to desire His heart as our own. When a person lives completely led by the Holy Spirit, they can do anything they want. Why? Because their genuine and deep desires line up with the pure and righteous desires God has for us. If you desire things outside of Him, you need to seek Him out a bit more and let Him draw you closer. Oholah and Oholibah clearly failed to do this, ,and so their lusting continued. They remained spiritually immature. They never grew. Growing in God means realizing this: there is a cost to walking with Him and belonging to Him. The cost is great – but so worth paying. And as soon as you pay it, you realize just how “worth it” it is. That IS partly why we call it faith, no?

But Oholah and Oholibah missed the boat entirely when it came to actually growing in God, and so they floundered. Without seeing the Glory and Majesty that were right in front of them, they chased after other things. And random calamity doesn’t befall them. Lightning doesn’t strike them down. What happens is that the things they were chasing turned against them. The men weren’t who they seemed to be at first. They looked better from a distance. Up close they didn’t make the girls any happier or more satisfied than they were before. In fact, they caused a lot of pain and torment for these ladies. Again, the message is clear: these other things just aren’t worth the chase. Where God is eternal, these things don’t stand the test of time. Where God is more beautiful and more miraculous and more faithful and just better the more you get to know Him, these other things don’t even stand up to close scrutiny. Where God is constant and dependable, these other things are fickle and untrustworthy. They just aren’t worth much in comparison to God.

Our walk with God is not meant to ever be stagnant, and so today I ask you to take a deep look at your journey with Him. Where do you stand today? Have you made any spiritual excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”? Desire anything lately that went beyond God? More money, a better job, a big promotion? A bigger house? Missed your ‘old life’ when you were ‘allowed’ to do other things? Once we’re His we’re always His; sinning and desiring these other things is essentially cheating on Him. So ask Him today – are there areas where you’re cheating? Areas you hold back from Him?

Maybe you do have some of these issues and maybe you don’t. Either way, Ezekiel 23 clearly shows us it’s not worth it. So let Him in today, to examine your heart and show you all the little ways you can deepen your relationship with Him even more. It’s worth any price, and God is just – He’ll never ask more of you than you can pay. So take the plunge!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Sandcastles

sandcastle

As I grew up, I grew more and more reluctant to build sandcastles. “I’ll get sandy”, “they won’t last anyway”, “I’ll have ridiculously uneven tan lines”, “They take so long”……but in the end, despite my adolescent logic saying I ‘knew better’, my childish desire would win out and off I’d go. It’s no surprise – as a child I used to build major castles in the morning, and go to show people later in the day only to have them say “what castle? Where? I don’t see what you’re talking about.”

I’d start out with just a lump. I was reluctant, remember? Then the lump would take shape into an actual rectangle (the main castle), perhaps because I got on a creative roll, or perhaps just because I was way too old for just a lump to be acceptable and my friends were with me. I’d add a tower or two, maybe some designs on the walls or battlements on the top. I’d try to make my towers end in a point and I’d find a piece of seaweed or driftwood to stick in as a shell. Of course I’d build a moat – as deep as possible. And then the inevitable would happen – no matter how elaborate or large I’d built my castle, no matter how deep the moat, the tide would still rise and I’d watch my creation be swept away without a trace.

When I think of sin, I think of these sandcastles. We may start out reluctant, but in the end the desire wins out. Then we get swept along, either by peer pressure or just by ourselves. Our basic sin expands, gets fancy, gets more elaborate. Soon it’s part of our lifestyle – we’re fully embracing it and sticking a flag in the turret to claim it as ours.

We’ve all had these sandcastles within us. Maybe we still do. They are our imperfections, the things we harbor that God doesn’t like, the parts of ourselves that we hold on to, that we haven’t submitted to God yet and we don’t necessarily want to. Sandcastles can be pretty, after all. Granted, they can also be ugly and misshapen, but they’re still ours – cultivated and created by us.  Maybe we fear His judgement, maybe our flag is staked in so deep we no longer know who we are without it. Maybe we just know that refinement often hurts. And our first instinct is to protect it. To protect ourselves. “Nothing to see here, Jesus!” We change the spiritual subject to more comfortable ground (“I read my Bible today, Jesus!” = “look at the whole rest of the pristine beach, Jesus!”) and meanwhile build our moats as deep as we can; we thicken the walls. We hunker down.

Maybe we realize that enough is enough, or maybe God tells us. But either way we have a moment where we’re done. We want out. And then our very human panic sets in as follows: But look how much we’ve built. Look how elaborate it is. Look how deep the moat around it is. Look how thick the walls are. We made an effort to protect it, even though we knew better. How can something that big just disappear? We’ll be living under the shadow of that thing for the rest of our natural lives and God will never look at us the same way again and we probably just forfeit our treasure in heaven and now our souls are going to be living in a spiritual cardboard box for all eternity.

Here’s the thing – the amazing, merciful thing about Jesus. He gives us grace. When we repent, and give our sin to Him, when we turn our hearts from that part of ourselves and our lives and give it to Him for His will to be done, that act of repentance lets the tide come in. And if you think for one second that sand can stand up to the power of the living water of Jesus Christ, get yourself to the nearest beach before high tide and give it a try yourself. No chance. While you’re there, you’ll also note how wood, rock and glass get broken down and smoothed over in time. So…sand? I repeat: no chance.

When you repent, you invite the waves that break down those fragile walls. Sure, it can hurt. Yes we have to leave the castle, to get displaced and sent to a new home Jesus has for us. Yes, a part of us has to stay behind in the castle to face destruction.

But you know what? When it’s done, it’s done. Every grain gets washed away, the moat gets filled back in. The very flags that marked it as yours disappear. You will look back, from your new house on the rock, and see pristine beach. With no trace of your self-made castle. Maybe you’ll tell Jesus about it someday, in hindsight or in fear of going back there. And Jesus will look out at the beach and say “what? Where? I don’t see what you’re talking about.”

Jesus took the hit for our sins already. He bled for them and suffered for them already. The wrath was poured out. Forgiveness was earned. The only reason the sins still exist is because we are engaging in them. So when we repent, when we turn from it in our heart of hearts, it leaves. Stricken from the books. When you let God take it away, it goes away. And all that’s left is the beautiful, pristine, pure beach.

So today I ask you readers to talk to God about your personal sandcastles. Let Him point them out to you, let Him guide you to a place of submission and repentance. Give them to Him, and let that tide wash over your heart. Cry the tears, delve deeply into the reasons behind it, whatever it takes. Then, go ahead enjoy your beach.

If any of you need prayer today, or just want to say hi, feel free to email me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com.

God bless!

~Rebekah A