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Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

This is one of my favourite hymns (sung by one of my favourite Gospel artists). It came to my mind as I was listening to a sermon last night. I’ve heard the song many times and I’ve heard the sermon more than once, but something new came to me as I pondered this one line of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.

I’ve been asked no small number of times how I do it. How on earth am I still a virgin at age 29? People express how they can’t understand how I can live without sex. It’s the same for me as alcohol – kind of hard to miss something you’ve never had. But that doesn’t mean I’m a prude and it doesn’t mean I’ve never thought about sex. I’m 29, let’s be realistic here.

But as I played through and was singing this song this morning with these thoughts in mind, I realise that it is the grace of God that has kept me pure through my life. “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.” I have no doubt that as I live my life faithful to the God that put me here, that He will be faithful to me and those blessings really will be all mine when the time comes.

Isn’t it true that the longer you wait for something you really want, the better it is when you finally get it? When you’ve been craving something for so long that it’s better than you remembered it to be? For all of you girls (and maybe guys) who have been waiting whether you’re fresh out of high school or pushing 30, like me, God is faithful. He wouldn’t ask us to do the impossible if it weren’t possible (remember Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”).

I find that the more I stick with and to God, the easier the wait is. I’m not saying it’s easy at all, but the burden is not my own to bear and I’m trusting in my faithful God that, when the time is right, all this waiting will be worth it. God’s strength for me today will become my bright hope tomorrow.

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So you want to have a baby…

Let my start off by saying that I don’t have kids. I don’t really want kids. I’m a 29 year old, unwed virgin. I have one niece and six nephews. I don’t need kids. But this post isn’t really about kids.

Most people have what we have come to call “aha! moments”. Those moments of great inspiration or revelation where something finally clicks. The lightbulb goes off and you feel as though the whole world should feel as you do. I had one of those moments today and this is me sharing it with the world hoping I’m not the only one to feel this way.

I think that I can safely assume that, if you are reading this, you are aware of the mechanics how children come about. But let’s start at the beginning and all the while, I’ll put this into the context of what I really want to say:

It all starts of with a wedding (hopefully). There’s a groom and there’s a bride. In the context of Christianity, there’s Jesus, the groom, and the Church, the bride. Revelation 19:17 (ESV) says, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…”. There’s a wedding, and we’re a part of it.

If a woman wants to get pregnant, she knows that there are times when she can’t get pregnant and times when she can get pregnant. The bride has to be fertile in order to conceive. Ezekiel 17:5 (ESV) tells us, “Then he took of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil.” There is a right time and a wrong time to conceive. A time when a woman is fertile and a time when she is not. We, as Christians, are the same. If we truly wish to be impregnated with the things of God, it has to be at the right time. We need to be that fertile soil.

If the time is right and all things are going well, the groom will romance his bride. Isn’t that how God always is? He is always wooing His bride. This is no stale marriage. God wants us. We are always attractive to Him. He will chase after us. If we respond to God’s romancing, intimacy will follow. A bride cannot conceive without first sharing intimacies with the groom. You CANNOT expect to conceive the great things of God if you are not intimate with Him first. Like the idea of conceiving without first having sex, it is an impossibility. There was only one immaculate conception. It happened once and it will not happen again. There may be times when you don’t feel like it, but if I understand marriage correctly, when things are done right, you won’t regret a minute of it. God won’t let you down if you want to get close to Him.

So you get married (you accept Christ as Lord and Saviour of your life), you wait for the right time and your husband (Jesus) starts to romance you, He woos you. He wants you. Like any new bride, you accept His advances and you get intimate with Him. You let Him into your world. You let Him into your life and He doesn’t let you down. It’s worth every moment. Every second. James 4:8 (Message) tells us, “Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.” A new bride has only to breathe and her groom will come a-runnin’.

And then, one day, you feel different. You sense a change. Something has happened and you can’t really explain it. It starts to grow and you begin to understand the changes that are taking place. You’ve conceived. A vision has been planted in your heart and you know, because Jesus is the ever-faithful bridegroom, that it’s from Him. Now what?

Once you find out your pregnant, you take extra steps to ensure you stay that way. You take care of yourself to nuture this new life growing inside of you. What was began as a part of you and a part of Someone else begins to take on a life of it’s own. But you can’t just leave it at that. There is a gestational period. A time of waiting. A time of wondering. But the whole time you wait in anticipation and expectation.

If you fail to take care of that seed that’s been planted, you may miscarry. You may even decide it’s not what you wanted after and and abort. Neither of these were ever a part of the plan. God intends for every seed He plants to grow and bear fruit.

Let’s say you make it through the pregnancy. Before you know it, it’s time to give birth. What was a joyous time of wonder and awe has now become the daunting idea of labour and delivery. All this time you know that what’s been growing on the inside of you is a wonderful gift from God. This amazing, miraculous thing was created because the time was right, the groom wooed you and you responded. You were intimate. But now you’re scared because it’s starting to get a little bit uncomfortable. There’s a bit of pain. And, as things progress, the discomfort gets worse. You wonder if you’re able to bear it.

(On a side note, if you know you’re getting close to delivery and want to speed things along a little bit, I’ve heard that… ah… intimacies may help to induce labour. In other words, get a little closer to God when you know the time to give birth is soon.)

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV) Here is where many Christians lose it. They can’t stand the pain. There are no drugs to ease the discomfort. They back down and never give birth to the life that God began within them. It’s too hard. It’s too uncomfortable. The promise never comes to fruition because they trusted God only enough to be wooed and romanced by Him, but not enough to get through the difficulty of the  labour. They walk away fully believing that God was unfaithful when, in reality, they were the cheaters. They were the unfaithful. They left God standing in the delivery room waiting for a promise that will never be fulfilled because they couldn’t trust Him enough to believe He’d really come through on His word to never leave. Hebrews 13:5 says, “…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you norgive you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”.

I’ve said all that to say this: God does not subscribe to the North American ideas on marriage. He does things right. In order to conceive, you must be His bride (John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”). God will chase after you like a husband after a wife. He will never be unfaithful. (Psalm 146:6 “… he remains faithful forever.”) If you are truly intimate with God, He will plant a vision in your heart and cause it to grow, but you must also be faithful to nuture it. And lastly, if you want to see that vision come to fruition, you may have to experience some labour pains. Things might get uncomfortable. It might hurt for a while. But, in the end, when that vision is finally birthed and brought into reality, the hardship you went through to get to that point will fade away in the light of the glory of God.