When God Speaks

When we are praying, how can we know a message is from God or just our own thoughts telling us what we want to hear? There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

The featured image for this post comes from the Bible story in Samuel 3 when Samuel’s name is repeatedly being called in the night and he finally answers the third time, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

I do not doubt that God speaks to us today as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Job, and Samuel, I just think it’s a rare occurrence (even though according to to a Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported hearing a voice or seeing a vision as a response to prayer.) I can only think of one time in my life that I believe a message was truly from God and it was when I was at rock bottom at 16, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore and God whispered to me, “I have big plans for you.”

Recently my crush told me that God said “no” to dating me.

If God said “no” then God said “no” and so that’s the end of the story. God didn’t give a reason but as my crush so eloquently and firmly declared, “We have some serious problems if that’s not enough,” which was so damn sexy because SPIRITUAL LEADER PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN. *RAWR.*

Once upon a time a man told me that God told him he would spend the rest of his life with me. I was speechless. Here was a man who I believed at the time to be a righteous and God-fearing follower of Christ. Surely if God told him he would marry me then never mind the fact that God didn’t give me the same message. Who am I to argue with God?

As it turns out, that man was wrong because if God had really meant for me to spend the rest of my life with him, he never would have abandoned me. Right? So forgive me if I’m a teeny bit skeptical of when people tell me God told them something, especially if it involves me.

I always ask this married couple at my church to tell me their love story because I love hearing it over and over. I can see God’s hand in every aspect of their relationship and one can almost be certain God meant for these two to be united as husband and wife. The husband was madly in love with an unbeliever. He kept asking God to take away his desire for her but every day he only loved her more. He couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly because women who smoked, cussed and were hardcore atheists were the most unattractive women to him and yet here was a woman he couldn’t stop daydreaming about. He had a nasty past before he became a believer and one day he was crying out to God and demanding to know why He wouldn’t save this woman. “You forgave my sins and they were even worse than hers. Why won’t you forgive hers?” Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he kept seeing an image of himself pulling an index card out of a cup of Bible verses in the middle of the table and so he pulled one out. It was Isaiah 43:25 which says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Except this verse was in Spanish and it could be read in the third person as “her” instead of “your.”) He fell to his knees and sobbed. Was it a coincidence that this exact verse was written by his mother on chalk board in the kitchen earlier that day? Eventually, his wife did realize her need for a Savior. She describes her conversation as an irresistible pull on her heart that made her see the love and grace of Jesus Christ and she couldn’t refuse. 

Another story involves my friend who recently had a dream where God revealed her future husband to her. Whenever she tells someone about the dream she had she says the Holy Spirit jumps inside her. She asked her pastor whether he believed the dream was from God and he confirmed that the man in question had been speaking fondly of her to him. I don’t know whether this dream came from God or was just a product of brain activity during a normal REM cycle, but I guess we’ll find out in time.

TIME. That really is the answer, isn’t it? True love requires committing time to really know a person. Two people have to feel comfortable enough to be openly honest with one another, vulnerable enough to expose themselves to one another, and after knowing all their dark and beautiful  idiosyncrasies, accepting them and choosing to love.

So I will just keep praying for peace about God’s decision and keep asking God to take away the feelings that shouldn’t be there because it isn’t God’s will. After all, I can’t move forward in any relationships with anyone else when my heart is all wrapped up in someone I can’t have.  Because of the nature of my work, I have very little free time to spend with others and so I need to be careful about which ones I give my time to. I’ve already eliminated many possibilities due to red flags such as a lack of respect for Hebrews 10:25 and Hebrews 13:4 and even a disagreement with “happy wife, happy life.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 supports that saying by the way!)

I guess since God is being silent about the matter the only thing I really have to go on at this point is feelings. I believe feelings are neither good nor bad, they are simply our response to information and personal experience. Feelings are legitimate and must be acknowledged and understood so that they can be expressed in healthy ways. While no one is ever wrong to feel a certain way, the information one is reacting to may not be accurate or their interpretation of information may be a misunderstanding. Therefore, before a feeling is shared with others, it must be balanced against the Truth of scripture and be in harmony with facts.

My feelings tell me nothing right now except obey God and focus on being the best foster mother I can be.

Wednesday night Bible study is going to focus on God’s will and how we can know it so I’m pumped for next week!

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Dating After Divorce

In 20 days, it will have been one full year since my divorce. This is the date I promised my pastor three years ago that I’d wait until before I started courting and it’s almost here! In celebration of this special day, this entry is dedicated to the strange and weird world of dating after divorce.

I’m feeling a mixture of both intense excitement and a little trepidation because lately I have been bombarded with well-meaning love advice left and right, much of which is conflicting and confusing. “You should play hard to get” and “You should just be your friendly, fun-loving self.” I should be honest and forthright about my feelings but also mysterious and aloof. I should open up and freely share who I am but also make him earn the intimacy. It’s enough to give me a headache!

I decided to do a little investigation before I put myself out there. I learned that researchers have conducted social experiments and scientifically proven that playing “hard to get” actually does increase attraction and desire but only with people that are already slightly interested in you. This theory is based on the idea that when someone is denied something they want, they want it even more. (That’s probably the reason why people you don’t want to date keep pursuing you even after you’ve told them you’re not interested.)

The best ad2c87f10d0346c0055189ca7885b1fc60vice I’ve been given is to just be direct and straightforward because it develops trust. I’m not going to play games because that’s being deceitful and I’d rather just begin my relationship on a foundation of honesty.

I still don’t know how often to initiate contact… I guess if I’ve already been “friendzoned” it doesn’t really matter how often I shoot him a message. I feel like there must be some secret formula I’m not privy to that tells me how often to communicate with a love interest that is just the right balance of not seeming overeager but still showing him that I was thinking of him. It’s a fine line I must walk between letting him know how much I care about him and unintentionally smothering him.

There is someone in particular I am thinking of as I write this and I want to dedicate the rest of this entry to this someone special who has caught my heart’s attention. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the person I marry has a lot to live up to because I already promised myself I would not settle for anything less than this amazing man I have had the incredible privilege to meet and even greater privilege to get to know.

When I actually stop and think about why I like him it’s so many reasons beginning with faithfulness. He is faithful to God, a faithful friend, faithful and diligent in his work and studies, and the Bible says “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones” (Luke 16:10).

He intelligently contributes to stimulating conversation. After I talk to him, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated rather than drained which is how I feel after I talk to most people. I feel like he’s on my intellectual level and is my spiritual equal as well and that is a rare thing to find indeed. I stated in my last entry that I had yet to find a flaw in him and as cheesy as it sounds, he’s nearly perfect as far as I can tell. He has somehow found that perfect balance between speaking the truth gently and sensitively without compromising honesty and integrity. He is the perfect combination between talkative and a great listener. He’s perfectly in-between laid back and easy-going and logical and analytical.  He can tickle my funny bone but also be serious and profound.  It saves so much time that we think similarly so we’re usually on the same page and can skip explanations because we simply get each other. He’s a deep thinker who wears his heart on his sleeve, just like me. He’s creative and has high ambitions. He has a strong relationship with God and with his family and friends. The way he speaks so highly of his family I can tell he respects them greatly and that’s very attractive to me. He is emotionally stable and feels totally comfortable being his genuine self. He knows himself and what he needs. Even though he sometimes complains about how long and tedious it’s taking, he is confident in his abilities and knows exactly where he’s going and how he’s going to get there. I love that he delays self gratification because he knows that God’s best is around the corner. It only makes me love him more that he knows good things come to those who patiently wait for the right timing. He’s kind-hearted and generous and from what I gather, has Christ-like character. I feel beyond blessed to even know such a wonderful person… and I am so grateful for the fact that he takes time out of his busy schedule to spend a few hours with me now and then. It kills me every time he smiles, oh my goodness I can barely handle that gorgeous smile. And there is something so perfectly comforting and therapeutic about his hugs. I still don’t know him well enough to know if he fits everything I’m looking for on “my list,” but I LOVE what I have gleaned so far from our conversations and I can definitely tell that he is someone who is pure with good intentions and a focus on what is truly important in life.

Yes, he has truly set the bar high for anyone I might meet in the future and I am thankful the Lord brought him into my life. He is living, breathing proof that such a person is not only here on Earth but close by.

As per request of more than a few friends, I give you: THE FUTURE HUSBAND LIST!

  • God-Fearing: A man utterly, passionately, head-over-heels intoxicated by his Heavenly Father with an insatiable desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and continue in holiness. He doesn’t want to break God’s heart but desires to serve Him, obey Him, and glorify Him. His faith inspires others and is an example to me. He challenges me in my walk with God and has a deep, reverential awe for God’s Word. He believes that Truth is absolute, knowable, and that God is the author of it. He is a godly spiritual leader… a doer of the Word who entrusts his worries and burdens to the Father’s capable hands. He hides scripture in his heart and is prepared for spiritual battle with the Sword of the Spirit. Our core beliefs and values line up in harmony. He seeks the Lord’s will in his life with all his being and follows the LORD with reckless abandon.
  • He has a vision for his life. He has a ministry I can come alongside him in to lend my support and assistance. He has goals and dreams that are in step with mine that he is relentless at chasing after.
  • LOVING. Love is patient and kind. It is selfless, gentle, humble, respectful, understanding, compassionate, not easily-angered, forgiving, truthful, heroic, protective, trusting, trustworthy, hopeful, persevering, faithful, encouraging, supportive, attentive, and nurturing.
  • Affectionate/Romantic. It really makes me feel special to cuddle and kiss for hours. After marriage only, I desire to be intimate often. (As in, more than once a day.) I would love it if he wrote me love notes, was not timid with PDA, gave each other massages, and made big deals out of birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Attractive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; That being said, I don’t have a “type” although there are a few features I find especially attractive:
    • Hypnotizing, soulful, dreamy eyes with a gleam and sparkle in them
    • A drop-dead-gorgeous smile with a hearty, infectious laugh to go with it and kissable lips (*MUAH*)
    • Muscles are an added bonus because strength in motion is a beauty like no other
    • I like dark coloring best but I’m open to any race/ethnicity
      Non-Negotiables:
    • Has clean, neat fingernails
    • Smells good
  • Wise. Prudent in affairs with finances.
  • Intellectual compatibility is important to me. A deep, insightful thinker with an intuitive, creative mind will get along with me better than someone who is more linear. Not to be too picky, but poor spelling and grammar is unattractive to me as well as a foul mouth (Ephesians 5:4).
  • NOT ADDICTED to anything. This is extremely important. He cannot be addicted to masturbation, drinking, gambling, gaming, sports, TV, or anything else that isn’t healthy. Three things are a deal breaker: Smoking, pornography, and drugs.
  • Self-Assurance is so sexy! He’s confident in His God-given abilities but not conceited. He’s broken and contrite over his sins yet embraces grace with thankfulness and loves the man God made him to be. He knows what his talents and gifts are and uses them to advance the kingdom and build up other believers. He has the potential to someday be an elder in the church.
  • Totally open and honest with me. He says what he means clearly and concisely and never “beats it around the bush.” He replies to texts and phone calls in a timely manner and is punctual.
  • Disciplined. Lord, I pray he is motivated, determined, hard-working, responsible, and takes initiative to do what needs to be done with a servant’s heart.
  • Great sense of humor. I can’t stand crass words and prefer good, clean wit. I pray he appreciates silliness and knows when to be goofy and when to be serious and can do both well. Playfulness is a must… like speaking in funky accents and dressing up in funny couple Halloween costumes with me. Added bonus if he’s fun, energetic, and can be both well-grounded yet surprisingly spontaneous at times. I imagine him as the type of dad who one minute is giving piggy back rides and then the next minute is leading family devotions.
  • Sings and dances with me. (Even if he’s tone deaf with two left feet, God forbid.) I hope he has good taste in music and movies that we can enjoy together. I would love it if we could randomly treat life like a musical and break out in song and dance now and then.
  • Has good, healthy relationships with his friends and family. His friends are genuine people who I get along with well and his family is like a second family to me.
  • Imaginative. Maybe he keeps a journal and likes to write? Maybe he plays an instrument? Maybe he has a poet’s heart and notices beauty in the smallest of things? Maybe he builds things with wood or enjoys painting? Whatever he does, he expresses himself in some creative outlet… even if it’s just going out into nature and meditating.
  • LOVES children and wants to be the best father to both our biological children and adopted children. Foster care is dear to my heart and I’d like him to be on board with me in this calling.

Uncertainty

I always seem to be in a perpetual state of confusion and uncertainty. Questions plague my mind. Every choice seems huge and every decision feels wrong. What does my future hold? What does God want for my life? Will life ever stop being so stressful working three jobs just to make ends meet? Will I ever be loved and taken care of again someday? Will I make it through this difficult time in one piece? Will I mess up my testimony if I make the wrong decision? Will I always be this lonely?

DOUBTI’ve been praying a lot lately. It seems I’m in a constant state of prayer. Verses keep coming to my mind…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29 -31

I think for now I will hold off on getting a better apartment and a car and just wait for six months to see where my financial situation is then. I am miserable with no hot water in my apartment and I’m tired of wasting hours upon hours waiting for the bus, riding it (it takes four times as long to get to any destination riding public transit) and being late for work if it’s behind schedule. But hot water and better transportation are luxuries, not really needs. I test-drove a Camaro this past Easter weekend and I imagined how much easier it would make my life to have it. (And of course how cool it would feel to be behind the wheel of one.) But coveting is a sin and letting my mind feast on this desire for a car is wasting precious time I could be thinking about other things of more importance like God’s goodness and His grace. I have brought my petitions to God and He will either bless me with a better job or He will tell me to wait longer. As it stands now, I can afford the car payments and insurance but I would have to finance the car and I’d rather save up and pay for it in cash so that I can avoid the interest.

As to the situation with my husband, the latest news is that he still wants to get back together with me but he wants me to give up the Bible which he claims “brainwashes” me. He says that until I start thinking along the same lines as he does, there is no possibility of us ever reconciling. Even though he lost his faith years ago, he was willing to dwell with me. I have absolutely no idea how unequally yoked couples do it! There were so many problems in our marriage because my husband did not want to submit to God. Untimately, it was our major differences in worldview that caused him to leave me. (This is the answer he gave when I asked him last night “WHY did you leave me!?” .) He said we are just too different and we have absolutely nothing in common because I follow Jesus and he doesn’t.

Some of you reading this may be asking yourselves if my telling you all of this really all that necessary? Maybe not, but I still think it’s important to share my testimony. I need to. I need someone to say, “I’ve been there,” or “I’m going through something similar,” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m praying for you and I’m here for you.”

Here’s what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 says:
“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ((The Message))