Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life has no "esc" button.

I had this blog in my head that I was thinking about and planning to write a few days ago. Then, on my flight to Seattle last week, I listened to the podcast of the sermon I missed while in Disney. And darn if Jason Mitchell didn't speak to the very topic I'd been thinking about.  Do you ever hear a sermon and think the pastor must be talking directly to you?  This was one of those times.

My original topic was this thought lately in regards to my love life: online dating is like my own biblical Hagar. That sounds weird, I know. Let me explain.

In the book of Genesis (chapter 12), God promises Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. But, over 10 years later, Abraham (then Abram) and his wife Sarah (then Sarai) are still childless. So this is what they do: "So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal." (Genesis 16:2 NLT)

This is not a good decision. Hagar ends up giving birth to Ishmael and to make a long story short: it didn't work out the way Abraham planned and it wasn't a good idea.

Does it make more sense now? Online dating is my Hagar. It's me taking matters into my own hands when I get tired of waiting around for what I know God has planned for me. It never works out the way I plan and it is always a bad idea.

In his message, Jason referred to "exile" - that place in your life where you don't want to be. For me, being single is exile. And being a widow...well, if there's something worse than exile, that is what being a widow is for me. It sucks. It's lonely. I'm sometimes unhappy.

We all have an exile - a job that you hate, a marriage that is crumbling, kids that are driving you nuts, the childless wait for an adoption to go through, death or sickness, loss, pain - it's all exile. It's all stuff we don't want to deal with or go through.

Here's something Jason said about exile that hit my right in the heart: "In the middle of exile will we choose to try to escape it or will we choose to engage the moment were in and see what god might have to teach us in it. Whenever we face situations that we do not want to be facing, that is always the option placed in front of us."

Most of the time, I have chosen the learning option. But sometimes, when I'm at home by myself watching yet another Lifetime movie - I choose escape. I start surfing online dating sites. And this always...ALWAYS ends with me sighing and saying something like "I hate online dating!!!!" (I say this to my cats, they are good listeners!)

But Jason made another point about exile that hit me even harder than the first. See, I know that God often allows trials in our lives so we can learn from them. I get that. Most days, I believe that with no problem. But Jason said this: "As long as [we are] convinced that any day now [it will magically work out exactly like we want we] will never learn faithfulness to God in the actual moment [we are] facing."

He said this in reference to a passage in Jeremiah, so I edited it slightly to fit my situation. The point he is making is: sometimes we get so caught up in the thoughts about the future, and the "happy ending" that it makes it impossible to be faithful to God in the now. That's deep, huh?

See, for me, I thought that day dreaming about the future, the perfect next husband, the family, all of that, was harmless. But maybe it isn't. Maybe, by allowing myself to drift into that day dream, I'm missing out on an opportunity for God to do something awesome in my now.

See, it's possible to find peace and joy even within exile circumstances.  Jason said: "Peace is not the absence of difficulty in our life. Peace is not the absence of pain. When Jesus talks about peace, peace is the assurance that God is indeed with us in the pain. Peace is - in the exile, God is there."

Listen to Jason's full message here.


  1. I love this. I was just having a similar conversation last week.

  2. Thank you for sharing. Yes...I want to live in the moment and remain faithful to God in the midst of my life. Thank you for the truth, the challenge, the reality check.