To my future bride (whoever you may be). . .

I don’t know who you are. We may have already met, or we may have never seen each other. I used to be afraid of you. I used to think you would place unattainable expectations on me and try to turn me into someone I’m not. But I know now that’s not what you want.

Maybe I’m different from most guys. I realize you’re not supermodel hot. But I don’t want you to be. You’re beautiful because you’re buried so deeply inside our Father’s heart. You’re captivating because you’re captivated by God.

Your soft smile and gentle touch will be enough to send me to the stars. And your strong, silent support of who I am as a man will empower me, strengthen me, and energize me in ways nothing else can. I won’t ask that you always agree with me, but I will ask that you trust my intention to always seek your best interest. My methods may be wrong, and I may never understand you, but please be patient. I’m trying so hard.

I can’t promise that I’ll be your knight in shining armor, but I can promise that I’ll protect you from the dangers and hurts of our world. I’ll give my life to ensure your safety, security, and joy.

And I’ll listen. I’ll sit still and just hear what you have to say. My natural inclination is to spring into action and fix the problem, but I’ll deny that and just be an ear to talk to and a shoulder to lean on.

I know you’ll want an adventure. An endless adventure where we’ll explore the depth of our Savior’s heart and the intensity of his love. I’ll take you there. I may not have the money or ability to take you to beautiful European countries or to see breathtaking natural wonders. But I can promise you that I’ll take your hand as we discover the love that God has for us.

My love for you will be flawed and weak, so I won’t pour it directly on you. I’ll pour my love on our God, and he will amplify it and rain it down on you.

I can’t say I’m ready to share my life with someone else right now. But after I find you, I know I won’t be able to imagine facing the challenges of life without you by my side.

Listen for my voice. I’m calling out to you. And I love you.

Possession. . .

He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
~2 Corinthians 1.22

He owns me.

I don’t like that thought. The idea of being owned by someone or something makes me feel like I’ve lost my freedom.

Like I’m in chains.

I want to belong to myself. I want to choose where I go, who I see, what I do.

I want freedom.

But freedom is a lie. I always belong to someone. Or something. I’m always going to be a slave. But there’s only one Master whose chains bring fulfillment, joy, and. . . well, freedom (this time it’s not a lie).

The problem is that every time I seek freedom from His chains, I’m instantly enslaved by something else. But no one is as good a master as He is.

So I was captured. This time by a person. Through no fault of her own I was drawn away from my Creator, the one for Whom my heart truly beats, and I allowed myself to believe that my heart was my own, to be given to whomever I desired.

But it’s not. Giving a heart bought by God to anything but His plan will yield disastrous results. And in my foolishness I was left brokenhearted, weary, and destroyed. I sought a comforting voice among my brothers and sisters, but I couldn’t find any. And then a whisper broke through the darkness.

“Return to me. I’ve paid the price for your freedom.”

Father, I’m sorry for trying to take ownership of my heart and life. You bought me, and I had no right to try to take my life back. The price You paid was Your own blood and death. Thank You that the chains with which You’ve bound me lead to true freedom. And thank You even for the difficult lesson that what I may perceive as freedom is actually slavery.

Captivate my heart again, Father. I’m weary of chasing after things that aren’t in Your plan for me. I want to pursue Your heart, no one else’s and nothing else.

Shorts and flip flops at church. . .

I had a bit of a “revelation” recently. I started thinking about Christ’s enemies, the Pharisees. In Matthew 23.27-28, Christ proclaims judgment on the Pharisees for their hypocritical behavior. In the previous verses, he condemns them for cleaning the outside of the cup, but leaving the inside filthy, full of greed and self-indulgence.

Conversely, Jesus proclaims blessing on the tax collectors (who, in that day, were known for being cheats, swindlers, and thieves, in addition to being traitors to Jewish tradition by allowing the Roman government to sign their paychecks) in Luke 18.9-14. Christ commends this man for his honesty. For his willingness to come face to face with his brokenness and ask God to forgive him. The man went to God in the middle of his sin; he didn’t cover it up or hide it behind nice clean robes. He put his rags out there for all to see.

I’m not saying that throwing on a pair of jeans to go to church is equivalent to putting our sinfulness on display. But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about myself. . .

Growing up, getting dressed up for church was the thing to do. Everyone at church was in a jacket and tie or a nice dress. As I grew up, I began using the suit as a way to keep people out. As I tied my Windsor knot (or Four-in-Hand, as the occasion or shirt collar called for it), I would look in the mirror and notice that I looked well put-together. To the casual observer, I had everything in order.

But to the keen eye (namely, God’s), my life was a mess. Underneath the necktie, the European-vent suit coat, and the crisply pressed shirt was a man whose brokenness was suppressed. I lied to myself every Sunday.

I lied to God every Sunday.

I’m not an advocate of being casual at church. I’m an advocate of being honest. I’m an advocate of letting God see inside you. For me, that meant tearing down the barrier of the suit. I know where my mind used to go whenever I put on the jacket. Somewhere in the back of my thought closet a voice would say, “Put on the jacket. God can’t see through that.”

But how can God fix us if we’re not willing to reveal the fact that we’re broken?