I wonder what it’s like to be adrift at sea for months and then to see land.
I wonder what it’s like to stumble through a desert, dry and hot, and then to find water.
I wonder what it’s like to know hunger, true hunger, and to be given food to eat.
Whatever the sensation, it is understood through experienced not observation.
It is here that those who know a “longing like starvation” find themselves—when the expected arrives. Those thirsty souls can be seen running to the oasis, bucket in hand, and dreams in tow.
It is possible that the land is more solid once we have been adrift at sea for months but more likely that we have gained renewed appreciation for the earth beneath our feet. Perhaps water taste sweeter when we have been desiccated but it is more likely that we gain a deeper appreciation for what was once so scarce. And if food is not more flavorful it is certainly taken with a new appreciation.
When the waiting is over and the blessing for which you held your breath arrives, rejoice! Take what is yours, the best of what you have, and offer it to the Lord as thanks. This is the proper response to blessing. This is the proper response to grace.
While it may be a long and longer wait, while the oasis may be a mirage, while tomorrow may bring the same desolation that haunted your today it may also bring the rain needed to soothe your parch heart.
There is the delicate balance between hope and practicality but we must not end in pessimism. There is the reality of delay and that calls for hope. There is the practical difficulty of finding someone to marry and then there is the surprising awakening to a dream—when the expected arrives.
When the expected arrives we dare not forget the disciplines that saw us through the desert. We dare not forget He who gave us bread and brought water from the rock while this person was only a dream in our lying down. Do not forget who guarded our waking and our lying down.
We dare not exchange confidence in the Blesser for trust in the blessing. The blessing is, after all, only a product and part of the Givers love. Our charge as well as our difficulty is to remember this truth. Our charge as well as our difficulty is to remember in our time of plenty the One who walked with us in our time of need. This is critical lest we forget our continual need for “our daily bread”—once the expected arrives.
If and when the expected arrives our duty, even as we enjoy the fruit of God’s grace is to “remember [our] Creator in the days of [our] youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when [we] will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (Ecc 12:1). Before the dreams and fantasies we have layered atop the ideal of marriage is awakened by the presence of a real person we must look deeper.
When the expected arrives and the joy of discovery swells our hearts to bursting we must consider ourselves to be as the one leper not the nine.
You see there were ten lepers healed in Luke 17. They were all healed while on their way to the priest but only one leper returned, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Where were the other nine? I assume they were out enjoying their newfound health. It seems that only one understood the meritless nature of grace, so only one took time to give thanks. I supposed they had all dreamt of being healed but only one allowed the reality to interrupt their dream.
If the expected arrives and does nothing more than draw us away from our first love the expected is a curse not a blessing. If the expected arrives and does nothing more than dampen our faith the expected is a curse not a blessing. No matter how pretty the package or exciting the story there is no blessing in a relationship that does not draw us closer to our Lord and Savior.
All blessings, God’s gifts to us, are given that we might better serve Him, not simply that we might be served. This greedy hoarding is bound to yield a poisonous crop and in turn destroy the very person we craved with such zeal if it does not first destroy us. In the end these are only things and that person only flesh. Things are not to be worshiped and flesh alone cannot save.
It seems almost inevitable that the rigors of a relationship will cause us to lower our gaze. This is why Paul wrote it is “better not to marry.” In marriage, there is a natural and necessary distraction from the things of the Lord towards loving and serving a person. There is nothing wrong with this. Paul indicates it is not only natural but also proper. His suggestion is that some might want to choose to forego the distraction of marriage to focus more intensely on the Kingdom. It is not for everyone.
While sometimes we worship the possibility before the expected arrives it is as possible to worship expected once they have arrived. Both are tragic. Both will distract us from the cause and, as all idolatry does, steal our heart. It is possible to think and plan for homes, kids and picket fences before considering how we shall develop and deepen our devotion to God—together. It is possible to think of the life “we might have” without considering the life He has planned for us.
Even when the expected arrives life must be guided by His cause and His purpose. The purpose of getting married is to be more effective TOGETHER than apart. This means that together we still pursue the advancement of His kingdom to the ends of the earth. If we are not strong enough to put aside marriage we must at least minimize the distraction and run after the Lord even after the expected arrives.
We must remember our first love, the days before the longing came to feel like starvation—when it was merely desire. We must remember the days when it was the presence of God that made our hearts quiver and His hand we were most glad to hold. It is a natural desire, this longing, but it only feels like starvation. In the Lord we will always be fed, always be clothed, always be loved.
When the expected arrives we must be certain this person knows of our first love? If they think, or worse, if they are right, that they are our first love, we stray dangerously near the rocks and must change course.
When we have waited patiently for so long and the blessing for which we held our breath arrives, let us rejoice! But we dare not forget our first love. We dare not believe in any misguided sense that we have arrived or that no work remains to be done. When we find ourselves fitted to another person it will be because the Lord has made us fit. The fitting of these two pieces should lead to greater usefulness for Him. If not, it is a bad fit, probably a forced fit, with only the temporal in mind. When the expected arrives let us rejoice and be glad.