Travel Log: Ireland/Savannah
Food for Thought
Gently, as of late, God is redeeming my previous examples of relationship. This past year was heavily devoted to learning how to love others by entering into suffering with them. Now I am in a period of re-learning how to experience true joy together in community and to deepen trust. There have been many paths my life has taken that have led me away from the joy that God intended for my heart. Things deeply spoken over me, that even I hadn’t seen hiding in dark corners. Some of this particular part of my journey goes pretty deep and dark and is rather vulnerable. Yet, life springs out from it. All pain, after all, has redemption growing throughout, whether directly noticeable or not.
Part of this segment of my journey has been learned through leading with Frank and Bekah Burder this past July. They were (and are) an amazing example of redemptive, unconditional and gracious love that does not waver or detach in times of trial. Through them and others, God is restoring my heart’s view. Revealing to me compassionate and holy hearts that are filled and brought closer to God, in communion and in oneness. This correlated with a lot of what I was learning this past year about love involving going through trials and suffering together, in friendships, marriages, even within any community. I digress.
Stepping Further Into Freedom
Bekah and I got to talking one day in Ireland, about “the unloved woman” in the Bible. You will find the verse in Proverbs 30:21-23, “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up…” Verse 23 states that one of those things is an “unloved woman who becomes married.” I began to contemplate this verse and what God means by it. It may not be the fault of the woman that she was not loved properly to start, but what she does with God’s freedom matters beyond what she may realize. In fact, can any marriage or relationship withstand either one who cannot accept their worth? Then why should anyone live without knowing his or her worth? This could spiral into the topic of community and how we are to lift one another up, but that would be getting ahead of myself.
As women, we do not need to acquire perfection but to recognize God’s call on our lives as holy, royal, image bearers of Christ. We are free of all that binds us, if (and only if) we can let go of all that is closing in on our hearts. That is a BIG if, isn’t it? Because our life, joy, and freedom depends on whether or not we accept that we are worthy of it.
Only in freedom can we find rest. Only in ending the search can we receive what God has planned. In Isaiah 55:8, God tells us all, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Yet, we still perceive our ideas and idolatries to be flawless. Including our notions of relationship with others, in every form. A dear friend and spiritual leader of mine once put it this way; “Sometimes we hold the desires of our heart so close to us that we forget to surrender them to God.” Ouch. The first time he said that I could not get to my pen fast enough to write it down. There is so much power in that truth that it shakes the foundations of our notions of identity.
The Unloved Woman
So, who is this unloved woman? The unloved woman has her heart hardened. She is not free to love, but guarded in her wild pursuit of it. An unloved woman is always seeking and finds mud at her feet. She is bogged down by her faults and iniquities, and cannot be freed by man, though she seeks to be. She seeks to be free yet denies God’s freedom. She desires acceptance and strives to be loved rather than resting in the confident knowledge of who God has already redeemed her and called her to be.
An unloved woman always feels alone because she seeks to be fulfilled by things other than God and she idolizes love as a fanciful and frivolous and unknowingly shallow depth of being. Because love begins and ends with Christ and it “flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame” (Song 8:6) Fire that refines like gold, “though your faith is more precious than mere gold” (1 Pet. 1:7).
The unloved woman finds “gold” in the silt and rolls her heart around in it until it is battered and bruised and filthy to be handed to her lover. Any lover outside of God will not be equipped to cleanse it and be like a “seal over it” (Song 8:6), though they may strive to. In striving they find resentment and hurt. Instead of walking in freedom and joy, they too become bound by her striving as it is insatiable at best.
So, we run to Christ, and He gently takes and cleanses our hearts, again. He refines it and gives it back to us only when it is made new.
I think the biggest threat we face as women rests in where we find our worth. Are you serving God or man? Where are you finding your fulfillment? If you are serving God, then forget everyone else’s timetable for your life, because they and you cannot even imagine the beauty God has for you because your worth is far more astounding than you perceived. You are not only lovely with no flaw in you (Song 4:7), you ARE what redemption looks like, and you are renewal and grace. You are God’s promise. No matter what you’ve done or who you think you are. You are not the negative voices you may hear; you are free. So, this life is a journey toward THAT freedom. You are beautiful and chosen by the very God that created you, simply for you to experience joy through Him. You, as you are, are worthy of this redemptive love story! May it resound above the noise of your wounds.