“Slavery is anything that keeps you from your God-ordained destiny and the fulfillment of His promises to you.” – Beth Moore
“Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey – either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” – Romans 6:16
“Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, so that you may belong to another – to Him who was raised from the dead – that we may bear fruit for God.” – Romans 7:4
This was the quote and the scripture bases for the August 8 devotion entry in Praying God’s Word Day-by-Day. I’ve been coming back to this entry ever since. I just can’t get it out of my mind. It was like God clicked another light bulb on for me.
I’m still coming to terms with the fact that my husband chose to leave. Almost four months after the fact, it’s hard to even type those words. In fact, it’s the first time I have. I have alluded to it before, but never come right out and said it. I’ve been through the full range of emotions and stages of grief in that time: shock, denial, disbelief, bargaining, depression, anger, hatred, rejection, sadness, fear, anxiety, and now, more often that not (praise God), faith and optimistic hope for my future.
For sixteen years I prayed diligently for a unity of spirit in my marriage. A shared pursuit of God. A deep spiritual connection. During that time God repeatedly showed up in dire circumstances and showed Himself faithful time and time again. He gave ample opportunities for submission and obedience. But God won’t force someone to submit to Him. And neither can I.
For sixteen years I have been pulled in two separate directions, trying to please and pursue both God and a person. But it’s impossible to pursue two different things when they are headed in opposite directions. I tried to split my devotion between God and man. Letting another person’s lack of relationship with God affect my relationship with and pursuit of God’s kingdom. But partial devotion to God isn’t acceptable. In fact, it disgusts Him. He wants either all of me or nothing of me.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16
For sixteen years I have taken on the responsibility of trying to ensure another person’s happiness. But that was never my responsibility. That was a burden never mine to bear.
For sixteen years I have been a slave to someone other than God because I have lived my life in an attempt to please man instead of God. I have put my service and obedience to man ahead of my service and obedience to God. But by submitting to someone who isn’t submitted to God I wasn’t submitting to God.
But what if . . .
What if it isn’t about ME?
What if, for those same sixteen years, God had prayed desperately for unity in my marriage? A shared pursuit of Him? And He had repeatedly shown up in dire circumstances and showed Himself faithful time and time again, shouting “Hey! Here I am!” What if He gave ample opportunities for submission and obedience, only for those opportunities to be ignored?
What if, for those same sixteen years, God was patiently standing in one place waiting for full devotion, hating the lukewarmness He was seeing?
What if, for those same sixteen years, God freely offered complete satisfaction, contentment, and happiness in return for total submission to Him?
What if, for those same sixteen years, God offered the opportunity to work alongside Him and fulfill the destiny He ordained and purpose He set forth?
What if . . .
What if He allowed my husband to become cold so that I would have no excuse to not become hot?
What if He finally accepted the “No thanks” He kept hearing?
What if, after sixteen years, God said, “You’ve missed your chance. I can’t use you. You won’t let me use you. I’m sitting you on the shelf.”
WHAT IF I’M NOT THE ONE BEING REJECTED?
This is what I know:
– I know that God did not cause my situation, but He is allowing it. Therefore, the end result will ultimately be my good and His glory if I allow Him to use me. He will allow me to suffer temporarily in order for me to have victory eternally.
– I know that God hates my situation. What I am going through angers Him. But more than my happiness, God desires my holiness. And if that can only be accomplished through this experience, then He will require it of me.
– I know that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a future and a hope, so I can rejoice even in this.
– I know that all things – all things – work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.
– I know that God has ordained a destiny for me, and will fulfill His promises to me IF I submit to Him and allow Him to have control.
– I know that I am now free to freely serve Him completely. I have no excuse to not be obedient.
Did I ask for this? No, and I never would have chosen this. But God has allowed it to be part of my story. And there is a reason He is allowing it.
Do I mourn? Yes. Every day. But He will give me beauty for ashes, and will turn my mourning into dancing. He will restore me. And I will be stronger in my faith and more effective for Him.
Do I know why He allowed this to happen? No. But, I know that He will use me to further His kingdom and help others in similar situations.
In fact, He’s already begun.
Has God either required you to sacrifice something dear to you or allowed it to be taken away in order to follow Him in obedience? Would you be willing to accept the price He sets?
- Coffee With God – August 4 (pilgrimwanderings.wordpress.com)
- Coffee with God – August 6 (pilgrimwanderings.wordpress.com)
Edited 9/4/2012 to add: I submitted this post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents, a book featuring Tracee Persiko, a fantastically beautiful blogger I follow. I am in the middle of my “Inciting Incident” right now, and Tracee, Alece Ronzino, and Joy Cannis have been huge encouragements to me via their blogs. In fact, I stole most of this description from Alece. 🙂 Buy your copy right now! Read posts from other contributors and link up your own post here >