These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth...But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. – Hebrews 11:13,16
I'm sitting outside a tiny coffee shop in a sleepy town on a chilly day in northwest Michigan as I write this email to you. Many of you have offered words of encouragement and prayer as I’ve taken a few days to simply be. Thank you!
Dallas Willard once said, “Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation, and loneliness. You will see that the world is not on your shoulders after all. Your will find yourself, and God will find you in new ways. Silence also brings Sabbath to you. It completes solitude, for without it you cannot be alone. Far from being a mere absence, silence allows the reality of God to stand in the midst of your life. God does not ordinarily compete for our attention. In silence we come to attend.” I can say, from my experience even over the last couple of days, that this is true. My heart is full of gratitude for this time with our Creator.
I want to impart one thing that God has made abundantly clear to me in this silence.
He is faithful, but His faithfulness may seem confusing to us at times. His faithfulness deals in the eternal. All too often we are obsessed with the immediate. When we don’t receive immediate gratification, we become skeptical about His goodness. We doubt His faithfulness.
Candidly, I never thought I would be 30 and single. I thought God’s faithfulness looked very specific – that by now, I would be a wife and mother, among other things. However, He had other plans, and He has been so good in the midst of those plans. I’ve seen His faithfulness firsthand, though my life has looked different than I expected! I was concerned with the immediate; He is focused on shaping my heart for eternity and drawing me nearer to Him. For some, this means marriage at a young age; for me, it has meant waiting. This process of learning about His love for me hasn’t been easy; it’s been riddled with seasons of loneliness, frustration, doubt, and grief. And yet it has been sweet, too. In the midst of the quiet, in the loneliest times, He is there. He is with me. He was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the desolate wilderness. He was with Sarah in her painful waiting. He is with you.
Is there a situation in your life is causing you to question God’s faithfulness? A spouse who hasn’t held up to his or her end of the deal? A child who is far from God or far from you? Financial struggle? Betrayal by other Christians? Illness? Loneliness?
If our lives on this earth were the end of our existence, some of these situations would be crushing. We'd run far away from pain and toward what we perceive as pleasure. Even with the presence of God, they still feel overwhelming!
But Hebrews 11 – and the rest of God’s Word – tell us there is a better country we are to long and hope for. God has prepared an eternal existence for us in which all of our hopes, dreams, and longings are fulfilled – where the pain and struggle of this world is no more. It's not an escape hatch, but it is a destination.
For now – as strangers and exiles doubling as salt and light, who are called to be a preview of the coming attraction of the better country to the watching world – for now, we live in the “already” and “not fully.”
We live in the “already” of Jesus’s offer of life for now and forevermore, but we live in the “not fully” of this present age. We live in a time when we continue to look forward to the city God has prepared for those He loves and for those who love Him.
Until that day, may we rejoice in hope, be patient in struggle, and be constant in prayer, all while experiencing the fullness of joy that exists in His presence even now. He makes life worth living, friends.
With great love and joy,