On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
~Acts 16:13 (NIV)~
This is my first major post of the new year for this blog and I have prayed long and hard about what to say. Even as I sit here typing this, I have a lump in my throat. I’m learning to trust God more and more these days and as I sit here scrolling through my Facebook feed, seeing friends bashing God and the Bible, I’m compelled to present a different side of my God to those who may not know Him in hopes that they will seek the actual truth of Him and not just these misinterpreted perpetuations of who He is not. One of the biggest reasons why God is misunderstood, in my opinion, is that as humans we tend to desire a Savior. We desire a Savior, but we don’t look to THE SAVIOR to be that Savior. We put our hopes in each other and when they are unable to live up to what we believe our Savior should be, we automatically assume that God is the same way. Let me clear up a huge myth for you here; HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR AND NO HUMAN BEING CAN EVER HOPE TO LIVE UP TO THAT STANDARD. When we put our hopes in each other, we might as well prepare to be gravely disappointed. The only one who can truly fill you with peace, love, and strength is God Almighty and there is NO substitute. There is NO close second. There is NO alternative that will be able to provide for you what God can.
That said, I’d like to share something that I’ve recently experienced. This is very personal and I would not share it unless I felt that what I had just experienced might resonate with some who might be reading this blog. I am a single woman. I’ve had rotten luck with relationships and up to this point, have never really had the kind of relationship that provided a safe, peaceful, loving atmosphere from which I could say that I felt truly loved by a man. It’s unfortunate, but that is just the way it is. I’m naturally somewhat distrustful when it comes to dating and I generally don’t jump too quickly when a guy claims to be everything I’m looking for in a partner. A few days ago, I started talking with a man online who represented himself as a single, Christian man. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail he sent:
I don’t want to scare you off but feel I need to tell you that I have not been able to get you off of my mind. I am looking forward to getting to know you better, who you are, more about your family, Etc. I too am very cautious about who I talk to. I got burnt in the past, I am not bitter nor do I dwell on it, the past is the past but I will never understand how a person can be a cheat.
There are a number of red flags here that I didn’t actually see until I started really listening to that still, small voice that kept saying to me, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” I had declared earlier in that same day to a close friend that I wasn’t looking for a relationship and that I was quite happy with my single status for now. Of course, everyone says that when you make that kind of statement, that is when your dream guy will appear. Oh, so magically. Well, instead of hearing God on this, I heard the voices of all those who had said to me, “When you least expect it, there he’ll be.” So, I almost let myself get a little excited over the idea that I might have finally found my Boaz.
Several days passed and we exchanged several e-mails. I wanted to do some research online to make sure the person I was dealing with was legitimate. This was difficult because he didn’t divulge his full name to me until yesterday. At that point, I was almost to a place where I didn’t feel the need to check up on him. He was charming and claimed to be a God-fearing, Christian man who was looking for someone who would treat him better than his ex-spouse supposedly had. I felt many things; sympathy, curiosity, hope, fear, and even a twinge of compassion for this man that I had not yet met. Thankfully, one of the things I hadn’t yet developed for him was trust. And being the investigator that I am, I set about the task of finding his truth.
It didn’t take long, once I got down to business, to find that he was not, as he had claimed, divorced. In fact, his wife has a very nice, detailed profile on a social networking site that allowed me to view the very same photographs of him that he sent me. He had claimed that he didn’t have any pictures of himself online and that he didn’t get on social networking because she had cheated on him and it was a long story and blah, blah, blah…well, how awful for him. As I looked through the photos and read her most recent updates, it was very clear that they were still very much together and that he was very much a liar and a cheat. Immediately, my feelings of compassion, my sympathy, and my curiosity about this man pretty much vanished and it was obvious that there was only one thing left to do; confront the sin. But how?
As I lay in bed thinking about how angry this man had made me and how I had almost let him into my life, God reminded me that He had given me exactly what I needed to navigate this whole situation in a way that would bring Him glory. Years ago, my response would have been to rip into this man and threaten his life, effectively glorifying no one. Today, I know that what I need to do is to find a way to help others protect themselves from this very thing by helping them to understand how these kinds of people thrive. Obviously, this man is sin-sick. He has no real roots in his own faith and that is sad and pathetic. The word that he has been given has been planted in the thorny, rocky soil of his heart and its seed lies among whatever pain and hurt that has prevented him from letting it into his soul in the way it was intended. I feel sorry for him, but most of all, I feel sorry for this man’s wife.
To think, he knew from what I had told him that I am a women’s advocate, a strong believer and follower of Christ, and that I’m intelligent enough to figure things out. Yet, he went ahead with his game. That’s how strong a hold Satan has over us at times. He can make even the most seemingly devout act like complete heathen idiots. He does this by brainwashing us into believing the lie that our flesh tells us; that God is failing us because of the way other people treat us. Well, he didn’t win this round with me. I’ve been stupid before about things and I allowed myself to fall into the trap of infidelity. This wasn’t during my marriage, but I was convinced at one time that my affair with a man I knew was somehow justified. By the time God got finished with me, I knew that I had done this man and myself a grave disservice and I swore that it would never happen again. And to date, I’ve stood by that. I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t want to be. And while God wants us to want to be like Him; He understands that we cannot and thankfully for this man’s soul, He allows us to make mistakes and grow from them if we are willing.
The long and short of this story is that while this man tried to pull me into something that served his own need to hurt someone else, God alerted me to it and I was able to make the right choice. He has healed me to the point that I could not be convinced of the value of this man’s admiration and that I recognized him as a false Boaz. Today, I pray for his wife. I pray for him as well. I pray that God will deal with him and I know that He will. Last night, as I made these discoveries, I was very angry. But it was clear even then that while the man had destroyed my feelings of compassion and sympathy for him, he was not able to destroy my hope and my faith that somewhere, God is preparing the right man for me. I don’t need him to show up right now, but when he does I can be sure that I will recognize him because deep in my heart I recognized that this guy just wasn’t the real deal. That’s how my God works. That’s why I trust Him completely. That’s how I know that He has done a work in me that no man can reverse and no devil in hell can overcome.
Praise God, He gave me wisdom and discernment. My Redeemer lives! My ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR is Christ, the Lord.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
~Psalm 62:8 NIV~