Reminder: This week we’re praying and fasting for marriages: for God to bring marriages to those that desire it, to raise up bold men to walk into relationships, and for women to have courage to change where we need to change.
Some people you just remember meeting for the first time, like your favorite purple sweater with bow-shaped buttons on the shoulders from the fourth grade, they leave an indelible impression. Amy, contributor to the fast.pray blog, is one of those individuals you can’t forget meeting. Our first meeting took place at Panera Bread over a sandwich and a laptop searching for airline tickets to France. The word “unique” has characterized our relationship from the start!
I was about 8 years old when I asked for a Bible instead of candy for Easter (definitely earned points with the parents for that one). I’m not sure what prompted it, but I decided to fill in the important dates section in the front of the Bible. Not knowing many dates, I tried my hand at predictions. Perhaps not the best place to record predictions, but they are sort-of like prophecy, right? I know, I know, not even close; and neither was my prediction. I wrote “1995 – Me” under the marriage heading. Not only was this bad form, but I couldn’t even do proper math, 1995 was my junior year in college; who gets married then?
My life has not followed the predictions of an 8 year-old, the “expected” timeline, nor the path I’d hoped for. As I climb closer to the big 4-0, I would have expected to be married by now. I would have hoped to have popped out at least one kid by now (and with this perspective of the process, there is no doubt I would make a great mother). We learn early in life that expectations and hopes do not always enter the realm of reality, but it’s often hard to accept when it comes to marriage and children.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:12 -13 that he went to preach in Troas because God had directed him. Yet, while there, Paul did not have peace because he expected to find Titus there. The next two verses are very telling about Paul’s focus in the face of unmet expectations.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Paul didn’t allow the disappointment and lack of peace to overshadow his purpose. How often do I need this reminder? There are a myriad of things that can enter our journey and mess with our peace: job loss, bad relationships, lack of relationships, illness, and the list could go on. When expectations about how life should be, differ from how life is, we have a choice. We can allow the unexpected to consume us and absorb our focus, or like Paul, we can hold on to a higher purpose… being perfume (or cologne) to those around us.
We read later in chapter 7, verse 7 that Paul had found himself “harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within.” And yet, at this moment Titus shows up, just when he could bring the most encouragement.
Being down and out is not the ideal posture for attracting a mate, unless you’re into the superhero rescue thing, but that’s not the point here. If I had gotten married in 1995, I never would have been at the Panera Bread in 2006 meeting Amy and buying airline tickets to France. It’s all about perspective, if we focus our attention on unmet expectations or the unplanned things life throws our way, we may just miss out on enjoying what we do have… a chance to be a breath of fresh air to a lost world.
2013 may be my “year of the man,” but more importantly, it IS a year for me to do a better job reflecting Jesus to those around me.
By God’s grace,
Michelle is a guest contributor. She currently writes for Doing Life Single, a blog to discuss the practical side of living single. From cooking to vacationing, being single presents both opportunities and challenges. To join the discussion, visit: www.doinglifesingle.com