Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Man-Fast--Looking Back One Year

“As part of this man-fast, I am giving up trying to guess what you are saying or what it meant. I’m not going to try to figure it out. It doesn’t matter what I think it meant. It matters that I am faithful to you, and right now, I know that I must put you first. No man has the right to come before you in my eyes. No human man can love me the way that you already do. And while I still would like to have a husband someday, if that is your will for me, I will choose to live today as I am, content and living with purpose…Please help me each day to keep my eyes on you. I know that it is a command, and then a promise.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these thingswill be given to you.

How I missed that for so long, I don’t entirely know. And sadly, I am sure that someday in the future, I will miss it again. But for now, I am hungry for more of you. I want to know and be known by you. I want to serve for you. I want to love and be loved by you. I want to be exhorted by you. Show me new and wonderful things about yourself. Reveal your will each moment that I breathe so that I may know you and what I should be doing to follow you.”

The above is from my personal prayer journal written just one year ago, while I was on my “man-fast”. I felt led by God to put aside the desire for a man in my life. When I started the man-fast, I stopped chatting online, and all communication beyond work and church with single men. I knew that God had something special for me, if I could only stop and see it. So I gave up the distraction so that God could and would talk to me.

ONE YEAR LATER…how have my struggles changed? how are they still the same? Have any of the insights from a year ago really dramatically changed my life? Will today’s insights change my life in the coming year?

Ironically, when I gave up my desire to find a man to spend my life with, not too much later a wonderful man was dropped into my life. He was a man who saw me in much the same way God does, and I still feel unworthy of the love and devotion of either. However, I still struggle daily with putting God before my desire to please my husband. I think that most of us struggle with this, as Paul noted in I Corinthians 7:

“In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him. But a married man can't do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (vs. 32-35, NLT)”

Clearly, the married folk have the complication when serving God of trying to make a spouse happy and still serve God with a whole and complete joy. I know for a fact that I struggled with this in my first marriage. I had no idea how to make God happy, and even less idea how to make my husband happy. And in the end, I failed both miserably. (Praise God for forgiveness that allows me a fresh start!)

That’s not to say that I believe that marriage is within a constant struggle of our relationship with God. I just believe that it is a very careful balance, one that even I cannot begin to explain to others. But what I do know is that marriage to a like-minded believer is much easier than to a non-believer. In fact, I am so excited because my husband and I read the Bible together everyday. He reads it aloud to me, and I follow in my own Bible so I don’t get distracted. We talk about what we’ve read. We search each other’s knowledge for things we may not understand, and we discuss our take of what we’ve read and how it applies to our own lives. We also talk about the sermons from both churches. Most weeks, the morning message (my church) is a lead into the evening message (his church), and it deepens our understanding of the Word and of God.

Did my insights from last year really change my life for today? Well, I’m writing about it. That must mean it did. And the fact that I’m writing about it for you to read means that it will likely make a difference in a year. And that is the wonderful part about growth. When you stop growing, you die. I have no plans for that anytime soon!

If you are reading this because you are still searching for “Mr. Right”, I pray that God will make it clear to you exactly what He wants for you. It may be just what He wanted for me--to give up that desire and make God Himself the ultimate desire of your heart, or it may be something quite different. No matter what it is, when you seek God first and align your heart and life with that, the rest is sure to be a blessing. And ultimately, the man-fast taught me one thing: God-seeking first means no man-seeking required.

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