Years ago, I was listening to a Matt Chandler sermon (I don’t remember which one) and he talked about how important it is to have people of all ages in the church. Young folks, he said, have a frantic urgency in their hearts, of which they’re powerless to rid themselves, but older folks have survived a few messes, so they have a calmness in the midst of chaos, because they’ve weathered chaos before.
I thought that was interesting, because I’ve never thought of myself as the frantic type, even though I’m still young. Then, I recently caught myself feeling frantic and urgent about something silly, and I was like, Okay, Matt Chandler, maybe you were right.
Recently, I’ve had my first sort of shocking experience where someone for whom I care deeply and I admire willfully chose disobedience. It’s not that I’ve never seen anyone do that before, but I’ve never seen someone of the highest caliber do it.
I think part of what Matt Chandler referred to in his sermon was that thing where older folks have seen people come and go. They’ve watched good men fall. They’ve read their Bibles enough times to feel less frantic when crap goes down, because crap is always going down in the Bible and in real life. Surviving 25, 30, 40 years in Christ teaches a person how to weather tragedies and chaos of which a younger person can’t even conceive.
For probably the past 6 months or so, I’ve felt far more tempted than I’ve ever felt before. There’s a man who I really want, and I’m fairly certain he’s not a Christian. This is a strange sort of temptation for me because I’m not as confident as I usually am that I have what it takes to do the right thing. I’ve been a good girl so far, you know, not encouraging this man, but I could see myself justifying a relationship with him so easily – he’s so much better than _______ Christian dude because he’s more moral, intelligent, passionate, kind, fascinating, etc… – even though I know it’s wrong.
I know this is terrible, but most Christian men who are at or around my age are disappointing. They always seem a little too much like my students – young, naive, goofy, inexperienced, ignorant, simple, etc… I wish I didn’t think that, but I do. They don’t seem like fully-formed people with thoughts in their brains. They seem like the end of 1984 when Winston “loved Big Brother. The end.” That’s a cool line at the end of a dystopian novel, but it’s not so cool when indoctrination is stamped all over a real person’s identity. I recognize that there’s an arrogance embedded in those thoughts, and I promise I try to combat it. Yet, I haven’t met an unmarried Christian man in a long time who seemed like a thinking, feeling human being – one who I could ever consider for more than one coffee date.
At first, I was pretty disappointed in myself for even wanting the man I currently want. It felt like wanting him is this enormous crisis of faith. However, as I’ve endured for a bit, I’ve started to feel less and less like I’m in crisis… less like a mistake with this man would be the end of my relationship with God, and more like whatever happens, I need God and know that I need Him (and He knows that I need Him). That probably sounds like I’m allowing myself too much grace, but I assure you I’m not. I’m just thinking about God’s relationship to those who belong to Him.
I do belong to Him.
I’m not some fraud who’s been faking it for years. I am not now trying to get away from Him. I do wish I He’d just let me have this man, without it impacting my relationship with Him in any significant way, but I’m still in obedience regardless of my desires.
I think some of the urgency of youth is the fear that one choice can change a whole life. One choice can ravish a person’s identity, family and other relationships, security, etc… but older folks have more of a sense of stability in those things, I think, and in God’s love for them.
I’m so angry at that boy for not fighting harder. I’m angry at him for not listening when people who love him tell him the truth.
In fact, I’m angry at the other people in my life who had similar fights to fight, and they also gave in. I wish they would’ve fought harder and longer. I wish I could say that I watched them struggle for 6 months, making the right choice for as long as they could before they gave in. I wish I could say that they fought admirably… but what I’m forced to say is that people give in so easily.
I don’t know if I’ve got enough fight in me to make it another six months. I really want this man, and I don’t understand why God still has me alone, because I really don’t feel made to be alone.
But I do feel made to be His daughter. And I know that even when God doesn’t provide the way out that I want, He does always provide a way out. I also know that He’s the sort of God who has truly shown steadfast lovingkindness to His people throughout history. If I am inadequate for this fight, He will continue to show me lovingkindness – though I suspect being inadequate for the fight isn’t the defining factor in my win/loss record. I suspect that, “God will fight for me, and I need only be silent,” (Ex: 14:14). I suspect that those people at whom I’m so brokenhearted because they accepted defeat… they weren’t any less adequate than the folks who add another ‘W’ to their records. I just suspect that winning/losing is more about knowing I AM, and recognizing that any victory is His. My role in the fight, when I don’t have any fight in me, can be limited to silence, without jeopardizing the victory even in the slightest.