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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

I’m getting married in 2 months. Actually, 69 days to be exact. On May 24, 2014, I will make the most solemn vows of my entire life, and officially become Mrs. Clay Selway. I will commit to not only share, but entirely give my money, my possessions, my future, my body, my soul to one man. Forever. No way out.

And he’s not “The One.”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love Clay with everything I have. He makes me laugh. He makes the bad days good and the good days better. He challenges me to be a better person, and comforts me when I’ve failed that challenge. He’s the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person I know. He’s my best friend, my hero, and the only man I’d ever want to be my husband.

But he’s still not my soul mate, and definitely not “The One.”

Not that I didn’t spend the first 18 years of my life longing to meet my “One.” Growing up, like any good midwestern girl, I was fed a steady diet of the idealized American romance. One boy, one girl – two star-crossed lovers who fight across space and time to fulfill their destiny of being together. From Disney movies to romance novels, I ate it all up. I had my own copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” that I read until the pages started to fall out. I literally watched “The Princess Bride” so many times I could have recited it in my sleep. I loved it. And I wanted it.

But no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Even the best boyfriend I had failed my weighty list of expectations. No man in the world seemed like they would ever fulfill the ideal I’d built up. I sat around and lamented to my girlfriends ruefully, “I think God made me a man, but somewhere along the way he got hit by bus.” The humor was a thin veneer for some very thick disappointment.

After wading through the smoking rubble from a broken relationship with someone I thought was “The One”,  I met my now fiance, Clay, through some mutual friends. After a year of friendship, we began a careful dating relationship. 2 years after that, he asked me to be his wife. And in just 2 months, we will become one. But he isn’t “The One.”

You see, Clay will never be “The One.” In fact, I don’t even think there is a “One,” not on this earth at least. The very concept of a “One” implies that there is one, singular person out there that will fulfill every single desire of my heart, meet every single need, and heal every single hurt.

What an incredible burden! Actually, what a crushing burden. No man, not even Clay (and I admit I think he’s the best man out there) could do that. Think of who many needs, wants, desires, and hurts you have – could just one person ever take care of all that?

As a Christian, I believe that human beings have eternal souls. Souls that are filled with an immense, infinite amount of desires and wants. We need to be loved perfectly, to be known perfectly, to be cherished perfectly. But, as the they say “no one’s perfect.” And thus, no one, not even your spouse, no matter how well matched, will ever be able to fulfill you fully.

But our culture has told us this lie, and we’ve ate it up. And so we date, and break up, marry and divorce, all the while searching, searching, searching for someone, anyone to fill this aching hole inside of us. But they can’t. And they don’t. And they never will.

I think C.S. Lewis got it right when he famously said, ““If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

You see, I think we were made for another world. A world with no longing, no sighing, no searching, no pain. No disappointment, no unmet expectations, no broken relationships, no emptiness. A world with a perfect relationship with a perfect God; an Infinite being to fill an infinite need. And though we haven’t lived in that perfect world since Genesis 2, I believe that through Jesus, we can still have that relationship with God. And through Him, even while I struggle through this broken world, I have an infinite source to fill my never-ending need.

This is something Clay and I came to realize before we dated each other, and something we realize a little more every day. Because we both have a relationship with Jesus, we have all of our infinite needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We don’t have to turn to each other for them.

This means that while I still receive things like love, affection, friendship, and affirmation from Clay, I don’t have to. I don’t demand them, but rather can receive them as a gift. On the bad days (or weeks, or months, or years), I don’t have to receive anything from Clay. Fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can choose to serve Clay when he’s not serving me, give when he’s only taking, and love when he’s nothing but unloveable. And on the good days (which, by God’s grace, will outnumber the bad) I will receive his gentle service, gifts, and love with a sense of undeserving joy and gratitude.

He’s not “The One.” The unchangable, unshakeable, never-failing God is “The One.” And Clay is a wonderful, beautiful, completely undeserved gift given to me by The One.

On May 24, 2014, I will become one with someone I love more than my own body. I will happily join with the one God has given me, and together, as one, we will serve The One.

I’m getting married, and he’s not “The One.” And I’m grateful for that.

“What I need to survive is not fire…I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

I need someone to show me how selfish and horrible I really am, but love me and tell me they think I’m wonderful anyway. Not because I am. But because they love me. And that’s what love does.

It loves, sometimes just to spite the bad.

I hope for heaven. All my longings and desires are pointing there, pulling there, drawing me ever forward.

Because of heaven, I can live with the fact that my earthly body is permanently broken and often in pain. I have a sure hope that one day, I’ll be in a body that is perfect and whole.

Because of heaven, I can live free from the fear of losing the ones I love. I don’t fear for my fiance’s safety, my friend’s cancer. My fiance and my friend will live eternally in heaven with me. Even if I have to live the next 60+ years without them, those years of missing them will pale in comparison to an eternity with them.

Because of heaven, I can put aside lesser things that I love in favor of greater things that God loves. I can forgo a large salary to take a job that serves God’s kingdom. I can give up stability and safety to do what God asks me to do, when He asks me to do it. I can forgo living near my family, seeing my dear friends, living in the places that I love, in order that I might share the Gospel with those who most need it. I can even give up my own life, because I know that nothing I say “No” to now will compare to the infinite “Yes’s” that I will have in eternity.

Because of heaven, I walk in peace, sleep in comfort, and live in joy. Nothing – from a bad day to incurable cancer – can touch me. A present comfort with a promised future. I am, of all people, the most truly free.

“The sun will rise, the sun will rise. Won’t you dry all your tears, lay your burden down?”

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When I’m dreaming (as I often do), my dreams often slip to the way I wish life could be. They way I would live, if I could. The way life could be, if Eve had never reached out and sinned that first time, and the world was perfect.

I would live in a small house set deep in a big forest with a large garden and a medium sized lake nearby. My garden would have flowers and trees, and enough veggies to satisfy both the bunnies and myself.

The house would always be lit with sunlight, and smell like fresh flowers and baking bread. It would never be quiet, filled with children and visiting friends and laughter.

I’d spend my days baking and gardening, visiting friends, wandering in the forest, swimming in the lake, sleeping in the garden and enjoying the sunshine (but never a sunburn). I’d never have to take a photograph, because everything would always stay perfect – and if I wanted to see it again, I could just come back later.  Every meal would taste the way food does after you’ve been very hungry, for a very long time, even though you’d never be hungry.

And best of all, if it were perfect, God would be there. And I’d spend all of the time sitting with my Father, talking to my Brother, and enjoying the warmth of the Spirit. And all of the gifts above would pale in comparison to this. Because this – this is what my soul was made to do.

These are the things I think about, when the days are long and my heart is heavy, and my body feels weary through my bones. I think, and I can smile, because I know I’m not just dreaming. I have the assurance of things hoped for, and though I know I’ll probably only see slivers of this now, but in a blink (for what is 60, even 70 years in comparison with eternity?) I’ll be in heaven, and I can rest until all of this is reality.

This what I dream about. What do you dream about?

The Lord has dealt a bitter hand,
and though it fits some theme or plan,
that does not stem the flow of grief
or dry my tears, nor
bring relief.

And though I walk a desert path
God guides me still, and with His staff
He makes a spring from boulders flow
to whet my lips, and heal my soul.

And though this life brings strife and pain
I know that all my loss is gain.
For knowing Christ, and him alone
is enough to bring me, ever home.

Onward, to the Eternal Kingdom march!
with tear-streaked faces
and broken hearts.

Oh, soon, we’ll arrive
in our heavenly home
where our tears will dry
and our hearts will mend
and all things painful will see their end.

So cry, red eyes!
And grieve, sad hearts!

But hope, ever hope,
for Christ’s return
and eternity’s start.

 

“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for the weight of glory beyond all comparison” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

When you read this, do you think, as I did, “Wow, um, I don’t think my current situation is “light” or “momentary” in any sense. I must not being doing it right.”?  Instead, why not think “Yeah. My life kinda sucks right now.  This is really hard and I’m really hurting and it’s pretty true right now that “my tears have been my food day and night” (Ps 42:3).  But Paul was making a comparison.  He considered his current troubles “light and momentary”.  And Paul was no stranger to suffering.  He was persecuted, jailed, hated, and despised.  If anyone understood severe suffering, it was Paul.

But he considered all of those sufferings “light and momentary”. Why? Because, in comparison, they were nothing.

But what was he comparing them too? “The eternal weight of glory”.  I could be wrong, but I believe he was referring to heaven, and the reward that we will receive when we get there.

Let’s get this straight.  Paul was intimate with suffering like so few people will ever be. He was imprisoned multiple times.  He was whipped at least five separate times.  He was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times and spent a time adrift at sea.  When he wasn’t living through these to proclaim the Gospel, we lived in constant danger, whether it be from homelessness, hunger, robbers, evil men, Jews that hated him for proclaiming the Messiah had came, Gentiles that despised him for preaching against their wicked lifestyles, and the general danger that lived on the road.  This man went through it.

And yet, he believed all of these to be “light and momentary afflictions” compared to the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”.

This must be some glory. This must be some prize, some reward, to make all of the things that Paul suffered “light and momentary” in comparison.

So, yes.  Life hurts.  Your current situation sucks.  Things are hard and people are hurting you and you cry yourself to sleep every night as you feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.  Life. Is. Hard.  That is a profound truth.

But don’t be discouraged by it. Instead, think “this trial that feels like it may very well crush me before I get out from under it, in comparison to the glory of heaven, where I will see my Jesus face-to-face, is nothing.  It is little, small, and insignificant.  A blip on the radar.  A speck of dust in the face of the sun.  Nothing.

“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for the weight of glory beyond all comparison” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

When I think of this, I feel allowed to both embrace my pain and hope at the same time.  I can cry, but when I weep they are both tears of anguish at my life and incredible joy at the hope of what I’m looking forward to.  I can understand what it means when James tells me to consider it joy when I face trials (James 1:2).  I can truly start to learn to “count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord” (Phil 3:8).

My heart aches, but clings to the Lord and the glories that He has promised me.  I know that His word is true.  I know He can be trusted.  I’ll rest in this promise –

“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for the weight of glory beyond all comparison” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

I really wrestled with whether or not to post this, simply because it is so personal and vulnerable. After sleeping on it and getting it proof-read, I finally decided that it would be worth it to post it, because of this – in the past few days, I have noticed a trend among my friends in our conversationsAs women, we have a few similar desires. We want to be loved. We long to feel beautiful. We ache to know that we are worth it. But everything in this world is fighting against us, trying to distract us from what will ultimately fulfill those desires. It’s good to be reminded of the truth. So, here it goes.

Sometimes, life is really hard.

Maybe it’s being in a secular college setting, or maybe it’s taking a tough double-major course-load, or maybe it’s just life. But sometimes, it’s really hard – I feel lonely. I long for love. I battle with myself as I fight the temptation to attract inappropriate attention to myself with the way I dress. I want to be beautiful.

But, in times like this, it is wonderful to come to the Lord and be in His presence.

To come to him and remember first knowing Jesus as my savior, and recalling how his perfect love finally filled that hole in my heart.  Remembering how, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone.  When my longing to love and be loved finally had a place in which to be fulfilled.

To counter the lies with the Truth, and realize that I am so desirable and so worthwhile that Jesus suffered and died and bore the wrath of God’s sin for me – even as my rebellious soul hated him and wandered.

To read his Word and realize that I am already wanted. I am already being pursued.  And nothing I can wear or do will ever change that.

To come to the Scriptures, and hear the words “You are beautiful, because I am beautiful,” whispered between the lines on every page.  The message ingrained in between every word in a book that describes a God so mighty that he could create the vibrant cosmos out of nothing, move the mountains with his hands, tell the sea to calm with his voice. A book that describes the same God working every moment of history to bring his people to him, to save them. To know them personally. To love them intimately.

To come to realize that in Jesus, I have everything that I long for – A man who stands in front of me, with more love in his eyes than every man in all the world – past, present, and future combined – could ever muster, and thinks more than “Wow,”.  He thinks, “Yes. This one is mine. I formed her before she was born.  I watched her as she grew.  I predestined her to know and love me.  And on the day that she came into my arms, I and all of heaven lept with joy.  Yes.  This one is mine.  Forever.”

On days like this, I am speechless. What words can describe a love like this? He is good.

Being a Christian has convinced me of two things:
1) That I am absolutely, utterly wretched and sinful to my core.
2) That I am loved and considered precious and priceless anyway.

That’s the paradox that I am coming to see in my life.  Each day, it seems, I recognize my own sinfulness more and more. I disappoint myself by every day, “for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15 esv).

But, instead of sinking into despair over my condition, with each passing day, I become happier and happier.

I realize I am bad, I put myself lower, and exalt the Cross higher.

With each abandonment of self, I come to know myself better.

With each experience of dying to myself, I come more alive.

With each day that I put my own happiness aside in favor of the glory of God, I find more happiness than I ever imagined.

This is the paradox of the Cross.

O, the wonderful Cross – bids me come and die, to find that I may truly live”


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Past Musings