On Mondays, we fast and pray for men and women to show their unique reflection of the image of God more and more clearly. And we pray for marriages to be given to those who desire them.
This week, we have Emily, another friend of fast.pray, sharing a recent snippet from her life – we felt this would be another great encouragement as we start the fall of fasting and praying together.
This is the story of a miracle in progress. A miracle yet to be known, and seemingly so far away – but promised to be beautiful in its time, and full to the brim with blessings that will run over. It is, as you may have guessed, the miracle of marriage. The miracle of seeing the boldness and sacrificial love we pray for in men, the friend and companion to share life with, and the deep love we hope will settle into our lonely hearts in the form of a spouse.
But beyond marriage, we ache for a greater miracle: knowing that the things we have stood for and hoped for – faith, redemption, blessing, kindness, and grace – can and will come to fruition. And, that the One we have banked everything on will show Himself to be the very best, and faithful to us.
This past spring, I spontaneously visited Holy Trinity Church (HTC) in McLean, VA led by Scottish pastor Jamie Haith. Jamie and I had met through the National Prayer Breakfast, and he had reached out invited me to join for the service and a missionary lunch after church. I agreed to go, and showed up on Sunday morning wondering why in the world I was there, instead of my home church. I was fighting a cold, exhausted from the emotion of an impending break-up, and had spent the previous evening sobbing my eyes out at my parents’ house. And, of course, I knew no one at HTC.
God, however, was ready to provide. I sat down with a lovely family and their children who warmly greeted me before the service began. Jamie’s sermon was on the Wedding at Cana from John 2 and he titled it “The Best is Yet to Come.” As the story goes, the cheap wine runs out, but Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars to the brim with water. They balk, and you can almost see Jesus smirking, thinking, “Don’t they know who I am?” You know the rest of the story – He turns the water into wine, and the master of the feast is amazed, saying “You have kept the good wine until now.”
Jamie noted that we all long to see miracles like this. We all long to believe that our mustard seeds of faith tucked away in our hearts, much like Mary’s heart, will come alive, grow and produce good fruit. But, in order to truly experience miracles, Jamie said we must know our need, cooperate with His commands, and expect in excess.
I felt so encouraged by these words and the service gradually came to a close. Then, very spontaneously, a woman approached Jamie at the front of the stage, and then walked up to the microphone. She said she had a prophetic word to give, and then said:
I believe there is a single woman visiting church today who has a deep ache and longing in her heart for marriage, and that God wants her to know that He knows, He sees, and that the best is yet to come. And, that the Lord hasn’t forgotten her, and wants her to remember Hosea 2:
Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her — and there, I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth. And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer ‘My Baal.’ I will betroth her to me forever in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy and faithfulness. And I will answer her.”
With tears streaming down my face, I looked around to see who else this word could possibly be for. It was a small church…I saw families and older couples, but I was the only single woman in the sanctuary. I knew the word was for me, and my jaw dropped. God was speaking to ME. This was amazing to me because I had spent the past month praying, fasting, and longing for clarity about my relationship with my boyfriend. It had surprisingly unraveled before my eyes in a series of confusing and hurtful circumstances. And, as passionately as I pursued the Lord in prayer, reflection, and wise counsel, I just couldn’t come to a firm yes or no about whether or not to continue the relationship. I felt that God had been far away and silent in my time of need.
But here He was speaking oh so clearly – and in that moment, I grasped this beautiful, personal miracle in my heart. He wasn’t a minute too late, or a minute too soon. He was right on time. He had “kept the good wine until now,” the provision of what was needed in that moment. As we took communion, I quietly surrendered my life, demands, cravings, fears, and desire for marriage afresh to the Lord. And, when I walked out of that church that day, I left feeling humbled and simply amazed that the God of the Universe had chosen to speak to ME.
Now it’s September. I’m single again, and am approaching my 30th birthday. And, speaking honestly, my summer of moving on, healing, sifting through battered hopes, re-calibrating life, and re-discovering joy in my Savior has been far from easy. It has been a daily fight for faith, and a constant confession to the Lord of my desperate need for Him.
And, the reality is: I cannot say in confidence if or when I will get married. But that wasn’t really the point of the miracle that day. God didn’t give me that answer, but He met me – tenderly, clearly, and specifically. And in my darkest moments this summer, in the Valley of Achor, there has been a Door of Hope – the voice of the Shepherd, calling me to follow Him, wherever He leads.
I don’t know what lies ahead — for any of us. But I do know that there is a Door of Hope in the Valley for me, for you — for those of us who are single and aching for a spouse. And, that we can lean on and cling to a faithful Husband and Friend in Jesus. If you feel like you are in a “wilderness” of difficulties or weariness or questioning God’s goodness, I encourage you to take fresh courage that He can and will perform miracles in your heart. Jesus WILL speak tenderly to you, and will answer you in faithfulness and love and mercy as the truest Husband and Companion of our soul.
I think that this courage could be described as “spiritual tenacity”. Oswald Chambers talks about this in his book My Utmost for His Highest:
Tenacity is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on – which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. The greatest fear a woman has is not that she will be damned, but that Jesus Christ – her Hero – will be worsted. That the things she has stood for – love, justice, happiness, forgiveness, kindness – will not win out in the end. Then comes the call of spiritual tenacity, to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted. If my hopes are being disappointed, it means they are being purified. There is nothing more noble that humans have ever hoped for (or dreamed of) that will not be fulfilled. The strain of waiting for God is to remain spiritually tenacious.
My hope is that we all are becoming people who remain spiritually tenacious – not manipulative, striving, doubtful, or bitter – but tenacious children of God who can move forward with the certainty that our Father will not be proved a liar, regardless of what lies behind or ahead, and regardless of how long it takes for the fulfillment of what we have prayed for. Surely, there are no due dates on His promises, and instead of laughing at God like Sarah did at the thought of having a baby at age 90, we can lean forward and eagerly watch what He is doing.
Lord, let us not shrink back in fear — but rather press in with joyful expectancy that You are good, You love us, and You promise to pour out the best wine for us to enjoy. Help us to believe that the best is yet to come. Help us to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our Faith. Help us to await for our visions to reach their appointed times, and if it seems slow, to wait for it, knowing that it will surely come and not delay (Habakkuk 2).