I wasn’t ready.
Before I came to accept Christ as my savior in 2008, I sought God. I would get close and then rebel, because deep down I knew that if I accepted Christ, I would also need to accept what he said about how to live my life. I wasn’t ready to make those changes. I had been a single Mom since I had my son when I was 19 years old and I had a horrible track record with love. In the fall of 2008, I made a series of really bad choices in men, ending with one that could have gone REALLY bad; the guy was probably a drug dealer and who knows what kind of trouble and disease I could have ended up with, much less the danger of another out-of-wedlock pregnancy. I didn’t have proof he was that bad, but KNEW instinctively that he was. What was I doing with my life? I was a business owner, loved my son, was respected in my community and yet no one knew about this ugly side of my life. What was I doing, playing Russian roulette with my life? With my son’s life?
Before you judge, I would venture to say many of us have followed a similar path. I was seeking love, affirmation, and intimacy, but was not willing to follow God to get it — at the time, I didn’t trust God — so I kept taking things into my own hands. I hit rock bottom when I realized that the one I shouldn’t trust with my life was ME, because I consistently made bad decisions.
The day I accepted Christ, I was reading The Shack by William Paul Young and in a moment of incredible clarity — a moment I now realize was God sending the Holy Spirit upon me — I KNEW God loved me unconditionally and I could FEEL that love. I knew how broken and messed up I was, I admitted I had no idea how to fix myself, and I confessed I would keep sinning against God and needed his forgiveness. I accepted the love from Christ that I felt that day, asked for forgiveness, and knew my life would change. Literally, from the inside out!
The day I accepted Christ, I also knew that before I sought another relationship with the wrong man, I needed to seek the right relationship with God. So before I dove into yet another failed relationship, I decided to take a nice long break from dating and men. When I started the break, I didn’t give myself a timeline; I prayed that God would show me when I was ready. And that was the beginning of a 3-year break from dating and three years of seeking out a true, lasting, foundational relationship with God. My tender desire was to be married to a Jesus-loving leader of a man, and yet my bad choices with men would never lead me to that happy ending. Not only that, but I came to the harsh realization that even if Mr. Right showed up on my doorstep the next day, I wouldn’t be deserving of him. I would have expected Mr. Right to fix all the broken pieces inside of me, which wouldn’t have been his job. That’s God’s job.
I wasn’t ready. With only a few months of taking a dating break, God had showed me so many ways he was willing to answer my prayers in ways beyond anything I could imagine! Because I had taken time to build a relationship with God, I trusted he had my best interests in mind, and I began praying that God would show me what I needed to change within myself to be READY for the kind of relationship he wanted me to have. Even before I began praying for the relationship itself, I began praying God would show me what needed to change in me and then give me the courage, energy, and perseverance to TRANSFORM and become someone worthy of the marriage (the future) God had planned for me.
The truth was, when I was an absolute broken mess in 2008, I knew God loved me and I was angry at the world that a man wouldn’t love me, too. As God transformed me and cleaned me up, I had to be humble and vulnerable enough to admit that the woman I was in 2008 was not READY to meet the man I would marry. If I had met him then, my future husband would not have taken a second look at me. This isn’t because I was inherently bad, simply that God had work to do on me. I realized that the physical body I had was not attractive (to me or many people). I was obese and using food as comfort. I couldn’t fully be who God designed me to be in the body I was in — he designed me to be active and vibrant! I was designed to be “Dressed For Action,” but I was living like I was dressed for a comfy night on the couch instead.
Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a statement: You Aren’t Ready. You’re not Dressed For Action.
If God showed up tomorrow, ready to deliver on your prayers about your tender desires, would you be ready? Some of you may be reading this and you’re offended and frustrated because you’ve been praying God would show up and deliver a miracle for years. And yet I wonder — have you allowed him to come into your life and transform YOU in the process? Have you made the sacrifices and done the hard work to be ready when that day comes? In fact, God uses those tender desires in our hearts to bring us to a place of dependence on him because we are incapable of doing it on our own. We have to turn to God and ask him to change us to be ready; the process and journey is an integral part of how God develops us into who we are meant to be. The question is, will you stay stuck where you are now and complain that God has done nothing, or will you surrender your life to God and allow him to transform you and your life into something more beautiful than you can imagine?
Are you ready?
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1. If God showed up tomorrow, delivering on your tender desires, do you believe you would be Dressed for Action and ready to receive and serve in that new reality?
2. Do you feel as though God is calling you to make changes in your life? If so, write out those changes here.
3. Does your life look like a new creation since accepting Christ? If so, how? If not, why not?
4. Are you ready to let go of the old you to pursue who God designed you to be? What scares you about that? What excites you about that?
Action Challenge for the week:
1. Spend ten minutes each day praying that God would show you what you need to do to be ready (to be DRESSED FOR ACTION) and journaling the thoughts that come to your mind after you ask the question.
2. Journal the answer to this question: Imagine a person who is living out the dream God has put on your heart — what kind of life do they live? What kind of choices do they make?