Yesterday, I received the coolest job rejection correspondence ever. After being interviewed at the local Christian bookstore, I was sent the stock-standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter PLUS a small gift – a 365-day women’s devotional entitled Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. Props to Koorong for their generosity, and I became aware very soon after opening the book that this was no accident. Perhaps it was God’s purpose in giving me an interview for a totally unsuitable job – just to get this little volume into my hands.
Flipping to May 7, I found that the entry was all to do with trusting the Lord. The book is written as though Jesus is speaking directly to the reader, and addressed me yesterday thus: “If you learn to trust Me – really trust Me – with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you.” (Gen. 50:20; Psalm 23:4)
Turning to May 6, I was then urged “Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If you could only check everything off your list, you could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list. There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on My presence with you.” (Isaiah 26:3; 2 Cor. 4:18)
Now, the checklists referred to here are not the kind that people use when they don’t trust their memory at the grocery shop, or when there are five uni assignments due in one month. These checklists contain weighty items like ‘getting married’ and ‘owning a house’ and ‘getting promoted.’ They are stuffed full of the things people tend to think are necessary for a good life – non of which are necessarily objectionable in their own right, but which may become so when fuelled by rebellious motives. John Eldredge, in his book Desire, describes his dream of owning a ranch property and his heart’s response to the prospect in one very telling sentence: “I could really be happy here without God.” THAT is the nature of the checklist; an inventory of things by which we may achieve satisfaction and contentment on our own terms, without having to do that pesky trust thing. Our lists contain unique prescriptions for anaesthetic to dull the ache of a life spent in a fallen world, separated from the living God.
But God WILL be God. He WILL be loved, above all else, and He will not tolerate rebellion or idolatry. This is something I am coming to grips with in a very real and visceral manner. What’s my anaesthetic? The allure of a ‘normal’ life and self-sufficiency. I look around at other single women who have steady jobs and can afford mortgages – women who aren’t afraid to admit they like the security those things bring – and I just want what they have. I long for a great job that lets me use my skills and abilities, and pays me well enough to provide all the bits and pieces I feel would equate to a lovely little life. I want a plushy sofa suite and a heat pump and a dishwasher and an espresso machine. I would love a fantastic home entertainment system with awesome speakers and a new TV (which I justify by saying that it doesn’t need to be all that big – 32 inches would be plenty, thanks). I crave a space of my own where everything is the way I like it and I’m queen of the domain.
But hang on a minute, what am I trying to ‘anaesthetise’ here? What am I compromising for? (Because it is a compromise.) Turns out I’m trying to arrange for a life of singleness. In a refusal to trust God with the fulfilment of my most cherished hope, I’m seeking to make up for a life without human intimacy by substituting creature comforts. As though any amount of home-made lattes and movie nights on said plushy sofa would mean anything without a husband to share them with. And even thinking life would be so much better if I were married is potentially misguided, if by that, I mean “I could really be happy without God.”
So in His wisdom and righteous jealousy, my Father has so far denied me all of these means of securing life for myself. I have no occupation by which to identify myself; no husband in whose eyes I may find my beauty; no house of my own to fill with all my favourite comforts. There’s just Him, in all His sufficiency, if I would only drop to my knees and accept it.
“What of my friends, Lord?” I ask. “Why do You allow them their little securities?”
To which He replies “Don’t look around at others. Look to Me. Trust Me. I love you, and I want you to be entirely Mine. It is necessary in order for you to accomplish the things I have planned for you.”