Did you ever think about the beauty of arranged marriages? Well, in theory, beautiful. Ponder this: Assurance of marriage, no dating frustrations, little chance of endless break-ups and loneliness and heartaches typical of the “going together” scene. Yes, he might not be your dream man, but a good mother and father know what is in your best interest, right?
Maybe you are in a time of despair about such things–or despair about whatever it is in your life in this span of time. Dating, not dating, miserable dating. Marriage, no marriage, divorce. Children, no children, rebellious children. Loss of health. Separation. Impending death of a loved one. Death. Missing. Loneliness. Most of us have experienced some of these, some have known them all. Some of us are clinging desperately to our God, others are unsure, finding it hard to trust, even bitter.
No chastening or trials are pleasant. If we could only reckon the truth of God’s Word to actually be true. These things are for our good. They yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness in our lives if we submit to the training.
I’m a slow learner in the things of Christ…my tendency is to impatience.
I want things to happen now, in my timing, according to my educated plans. Marriage at twenty one, house with wrap-around porch, sea breezes blowing gently on my face as I watch my four children, two boys, two girls, playing in the sand a few hundred feet from that porch. A happily-ever-after marriage, some nice vacations involving travel to exotic destinations, and a body free of disease would be nice too. However, my plans rarely materialize and the visual above is merely a lovely dream of my youth. But, dear sister, in hindsight, the training in righteousness has been so much better.
Indulge me while I tell you of my first big lesson in true submission to our Christ. It is the story of idolatry, the crashing of the idol, and the place of eventual blessing. Perhaps you will be encouraged as you see yourself, in a different situation, but the same God of patience and love and gentleness.
We met, Jim and I, dated, “fell in love” (albeit a mostly selfish love), and grew stagnant, with no real commitment. Months grew into years, seven years, to be exact and then God saved our souls and transformed our lives. It was a marvelous thing to behold as we thirstily learned of Him and His ways for our lives, as we learned to walk in childlike obedience. Two more years passed. I was desperate for marriage, he was not. I blamed him, he blamed no one. Then came the ultimatums, the pressures, the guilt trips. The breakup inevitably came. The wrenching heartache of loss was felt by both, but God was working His relentless work in our hearts. I was brought to my knees in repentance over many things, including the idolatry of wanting this man more than I wanted submission to the very real possibility that God did not want me to be married to this man, perhaps not to be married at all. In His grace and hard mercy at the time, I gave all my desires, all my desperation, all my dreams to Christ, trusting (as my pastor says) in His Face (Who He is), not His hands (what He can give me). The sadness and loss did not leave, but there was a release I had not known. I was no longer bound to a dream idol, an idol of earthly fulfillment, an idol of personal happiness. I was a woman of metaphorical unclean lips who had now known the hot coals upon my mouth in cleansing, and my heart was ready for a “Here am I, send me for whatever He purposed” moment. (Isaiah 6).
I’m reminded of dear old Abraham. His longing for the son of promise, the fruition of the promise, the seeming wrenching away of that boy. A.W. Tozer says it so poignantly: “God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand on the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, ‘It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there…’
I’ve had other lessons in submission along the way, but like first love, this first lesson is most memorable. It made the next lessons a bit easier because of God’s faithfulness in the first. Never easy, always good, because God is always good.
No, God does not always give us what we think we want, but when we submit, He gives us Himself. He is our very great reward, not to be traded for any earthly passion. And sometimes, not always…but sometimes, He says, ‘I wanted to give him to you all along, but first I wanted your heart.’
And there you have it. That is how I eventually became Mrs. Jim Finamore.
Sister, give Him all of you. Surrender wholeheartedly. Be content with or without the desire. Be satisfied with Christ.
Submitting together to Him,