More Than Carols: “Born That Man No More May Die.”

I’d suspected this call was coming for some time now once her health began to decline. I’d tried to prepare myself for the inevitable reality. But, try though I did, I couldn’t get myself ready for the wave of emotion that hit on that October 2010 day when my family called me through tears and uttered these words:

“Grandma is gone.”

The woman who’d been the biggest spiritual influence in my life would no longer be there to encourage me in Jesus and tell me how proud of me she was. She wouldn’t be among the happy family members watching my college graduation. She wouldn’t get to watch my wedding or hear the story of my proposal. She was gone.

I knew she loved Jesus, and yet I started crying the second I hung up the phone. Even with the intellectual knowledge that our friends, family, and loved ones have trusted Jesus and are now with Him, death stings. It leaves an emptiness that can feel insurmountable at times. We wonder how we can possibly survive this earthly life without the one that meant so much to us.

Why does it have to be this way? Why does death have to be so prevalent? What hope can we cling to in the moments when we get news that we won’t see someone we love walk this earth again, or when memories of their departure flood our minds?

Sin: Bringer Of Death

We can trace the sting of death back to one moment in time; namely, Adam and Eve’s rebellion in Eden. As Romans 5 makes clear, the second they chose to sin, death came into the world. As we’ve discussed earlier, when God’s holiness meets our sin, something has to die. In Eden, it was the animals God slew to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. It could have just as easily been them if not for His mercy.

But, God wasn’t caught off guard by their sin (or ours). In fact, He had a plan to defeat sin long before it ever occurred.

Jesus: Defeater Of Death

It’s easy to think that God’s plan to save humanity started in Bethlehem. After all, the Trinity is a doctrine that can make your head explode, and it’s not always easy to comprehend Jesus existing before the manger.

However, when we look at Scripture, we see God at work before the manger. Or His parting of the Red Sea. Or the Garden of Eden. In fact, before anything was even created:

 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”- Revelation 13:8 (KJV)

“Slain from the foundation of the world.” This means that the One who would save His people from death was marked for it before the beginning of His life. Jesus knew that every second He lived brought Him closer to a cruel cross. And yet He chose to die in our place anyway!

But He didn’t stay dead. And that makes all the difference. Paul goes into this at length in 1 Corinthians 15, but without Jesus rising, Christians live a pointless, vain existence:

“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”- 1 Corinthians 15:16-22 (ESV)

Because Jesus is alive, there’s hope! Those who trust in Him can rest assured that the curse of Adam has been broken for them (and, if they are in Christ, the ones they love).

Jesus: Present in Pain

Even knowing our loved ones are with Jesus doesn’t stop the pain of their departure. But, in moments of missing those nearest to us, we can cling to a Savior who felt our pain.

The shortest verse in the Bible comes in the midst of the death of Lazarus. John 11:35 simply reads: “Jesus wept.” Although the verse isn’t large in character count, it contains abundant relevance for us. Even with the knowledge that He was about to revive Lazarus, Jesus isn’t immune from the deep emotion of missing his dear friend. In full humanity, Jesus felt the impact of the death of someone close to him. Jesus truly is a High Priest able to sympathize with our weakness.

The Bible never tells us to never feel pain or try to subdue it. But, Scripture is clear that our grief is different from the lost world in one critical way:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (ESV)

If your loved one died in Jesus, you will see them again some day. And, although they may be far away, your Savior is near. And one day you will see them both face-to-face and never feel the sting of death again. All because Jesus defeated it.

 

 

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More Than Carols: “Mild He Lays His Glory By.”

It was a sunny day in Gainesville, Florida. It was y junior year of high school. My dad had taken me to see the University of Florida campus for the first time in order to satisfy the desire of my Florida Gator fan heart. Along the way, he’d joked about running into Tim Tebow to wish him good luck in his upcoming game.

And then he appeared.

You don’t get many chances to stand face-to-face (or, more accurately given our contrasting heights, face-to-chest) with a Heisman-winning quarterback that would go on to be a first-round NFL Draft pick and remain famous after his playing career ended. Today, I’d probably get even fewer chances; I’d probably have to go through Tim’s agent, ESPN, and more just to get an hour with him. Nothing about Tebow’s personality or character has changed since that day in 2008, but my level of access to him sure has.

Christmas provides us with a change in access as well. To see how astounding this change was, we go to the book of Exodus to see what Old Testament prophets had to do to come before God.

The Glory Of God To Moses and Aaron: Rituals, Fear, And Restriction

As he pleads with God to stay with the people of Israel, Moses asks God for a glimpse of His glory. This is the response:

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”- Exodus 33:18-23 (ESV)

God has to restrict Moses’ request, because seeing Him in His full glory would have killed him. Think about that. The holiness, righteousness, and sheer power of God would have ended Moses’ life if not for restraint on the part of the Almighty.

We get another glimpse of the power of God’s glory when Moses comes down from the mountain to address his people:

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”-Exodus 34:29-30 (ESV)

Aaron had good reason to be afraid. Among the pages and pages of rituals one had to go through before entering the temple was a clear instruction for the High Priest to wear bells on his garments in case unconfessed sin led to his death (Exodus 28:35). Imagine having to wear dogtags to church in case your sin caused you to die during the hymns. The glory of God didn’t just lead to higher respect or admiration, as some well-meaning Bible teachers claim; it led to a real, lasting fear caused by the knowledge that one ounce of sin could lead to your death.

Old Testament prophets would have known God as loving and seen His protection, but they would not have called Him easily accessible. That all changed in Bethlehem.

The Glory Of God To The Shepherds: Fear Not

Thousands of years after Moses, we see another appearance of the glory of God. But notice how different this one is:

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”- Luke 2:8-11 (ESV)

 

For Israel, the glory of God led to fear; for the shepherds, it meant joy. For Israel, the presence of God was to be entered into by one person after extensive ritual; for the shepherds, the presence of God was one manger (and no rituals) away. Seeing God’s face would have led to death on Mount Sinai; but in the manger, the shepherds got to behold the One who would give them everlasting life.

And the story doesn’t end there! The shepherds aren’t the only ones who gained greater access to God at Christmas. Because Jesus went on to die for our sins and rise again, we now have complete, unhindered access to God. The author of Hebrews describes it like this:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”- Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

This Christmas, rejoice in the fact that God is no longer far away. You don’t have to fear or go through extensive ritual to get to Jesus; He is there the second you call on His name. Although we cannot yet see Him face-to-face, rejoice that He’s every bit as close to you this Holiday season as he was to the shepherds in Bethlehem.

More Than Carols: “God And Sinners Reconciled”

If you’re caught up on celebrity gossip, you know that a certain Marvel movie actor filed for divorce two days ago. News of this breakup shattered the heart of social media (insofar as social media has a heart), as countless people wondered why Chris Pratt and Anna Faris couldn’t make it work.

So what ended such a seemingly unbreakable union? The same thing that ends many marriages; irreconcilable differences.

That’s a blanket reason given in many divorces, and it can cover anything from political philosophy to raising children to infidelity to belief that Moe’s is better than Chipotle. But, while the reasons for a rift in a Hollywood split might not be clear, there is a set of irreconcilable differences that is; and it has nothing to do with any human marriage.

Your Irreconcilable Differences With God

I’m sorry if telling you this ruins your Christmas, but it has to be said:

You’re a sinner.  I’m a sinner. That shopping mall Santa you’re gonna take a selfie with is a sinner.

The truth is, no matter how good you think you are, you have a bigger problem than your heart being three sizes too small. You have a heart that is bent on wickedness from the moment you’re born; and a God who is perfectly holy and won’t tolerate the slightest bit of sin. And, while you can debate the merits (from a fallen human perspective) of a divorce with your partner or a lawyer, you’re not winning a fight against the most righteous Judge of all.

Moreover, our sin doesn’t just leave us in need of a small fix. It leaves us deserving of death. The moment Adam and Eve fell, it became clear that when our sin meets God’s holiness, something has to die.

That sounds pretty hopeless, right? Thankfully, Christmas means we’re not left there.

How Jesus Reconciles Us

I once heard a religion professor tell her class, “There is no peaceful religion. Christianity is about God being so mad He had to kill somebody.” In that moment, I understood what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians that the Gospel is “foolishness to those that are perishing.”

The lost world has NO idea why the virgin birth, the manger, the cross, or the empty tomb were necessary. To them, it’s a weird fairy tale at best and cruelty at worst. And I fear that to many Christians, these life-altering truths have become stale and repetitious. So let’s examine a passage that answers the question: Why did it have to be Jesus that reconciled us?

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”- Romans 5:6-12 (ESV)

Jesus didn’t come from Adam, so He wasn’t born into sin. Jesus lived a perfect life, so we can trust in His righteousness before God instead of ours. Jesus bore the wrath of God on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to face that wrath in Hell. And, Jesus sealed all of this when He rose from the dead and proved His power over the grave.

This Christmas, rejoice in the fact that, instead of being separated from God forever, you can draw near to Him. You cannot reconcile your sin with God’s holiness; but, thanks to the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb, you don’t have to. Jesus has already reconciled your debt for you.

 

 

 

To The Twenty-Something, Single, and Sick of It

If you’re over twenty and single, you probably have more in common with Gollum than you think.

No, I’m not saying you live in a cave. And with body wash freely available in any grocery store, I hope you don’t smell like fish. But, there is probably a part of you that winces any time you see a ring.

Seeing friends and family get engaged and married is awesome, but isn’t there part of us that screams “WE HATES IT?” every time we scroll through Facebook and see couples realize the ultimate goal of romantic bliss while we’re awaiting our turn? Isn’t there a little bit of bitterness behind our “So happy for you!” and heart emojis? Don’t we wonder why some people’s prayers for romantic happiness get answered while it seems like our calls to God go straight to voicemail?

If those things are true for you, here are three things to consider as you walk through the single struggle:

Don’t idolize relationships.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship. God wired us with a desire for intimacy, and He instituted marriage to be a pretty awesome symbol of His love for the church.

But, here’s the thing. Relationships are hard, and marriage is even harder. If you want a “fairy tale romance,” here are a few that are closer to reality: Cinderella and Charming not talking for six hours because of one stupid thing he said. Aladdin caring for Jasmine while she’s puking her guts out at 3:00 AM. Ariel and Prince TooLazyToGoogle struggling to find any time alone with two children running around destroying their house.  Relationships and marriage rock; but, when two sinners are joined together, the difficulty level magnifies intensely. If you’re not trusting in Jesus now, good luck when showing patience, grace, and mercy becomes ten times more difficult.

Another important reminder: As a Christian, your identity is found in being saved by Jesus Christ, not in your relationship status. If you’re trusting in any other human to make you whole, relieve your insecurities, or fill some void in your life, you will place an unbearable burden on that person and be ultimately disappointed yourself.

Although this won’t always feel true, it’s far better to be single than to be in a bad relationship. Don’t lower the Bible’s standards. Don’t compromise your worth. Know that His grace is sufficient in your singleness.

Don’t treat your friends as consolation prizes.

 “God has given you enough food to survive the desert and not die!”

“Yeah, but this food sucks! And it’s the same thing every day!”

So went the conversation as Israel ate manna while wandering. And so goes the conversation today.

We’re really good at downplaying God’s blessings in our lives. Instead of rejoicing in being employed, we grumble about how many hours we have or an annoying coworker. Instead of rejoicing in having a car, we complain when it starts making funny noises that we have to ignore (I mean, fix). And, instead of being glad that God has given us friends, we get bitter that we can’t date any of them.

If there are people in your life who love you, laugh with you, cry with you, and push you closer to Jesus, don’t view them as mere placeholders until you find romance. Cherish them. Value them. Let them know how much they mean to you. Don’t take the blessing of their friendship for granted. Because they won’t be there forever.

Don’t feel bad for feeling lonely.

I don’t know who wrote the rule that Christians aren’t allowed to struggle with feeling loneliness or abandonment, but it’s obvious to me that person never read Psalms. If King David said any of this in the pulpit today, we’d be sending him concerned tweets and signing his sympathy card:

 

“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.”- Psalm 25:16-17 (ESV)

 

 

“Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.”- Psalm 142:4 (ESV)

 

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”- Psalm 13:1-2 (ESV)

 

Sure, David was going through a little bit more than wanting a girlfriend. But the point is, people of God aren’t immune from feeling alone.

There are moments when being single absolutely sucks. There are times when you’ll long for the physical and emotional intimacy of a relationship. You may even wonder what’s so wrong with you that no one seems willing to even give you a date.

But Christian, know this: You have a High Priest who can sympathize with your weakness, and He felt loneliness to the highest imaginable degree as He died for your sins. As the Father turned away because He couldn’t look upon the weight of sin that His Son now bore, Jesus cried out “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

In moments of loneliness and despair, cry out to Jesus. He is there. He hears you. He knows what you need before you ask.

You are not defined by your singleness. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.

Love Does Not Envy: The War of Wanting More

“You’ll probably be fine without our product. Sure, the guys in this ad have it, but their lives are just as plain as yours. You keep living life without us, kiddo. Love ya.”

Remember that commercial from this year’s Super Bowl? No? Well, that’s because advertisers know that we love comparing ourselves with others. Even without realizing it, we’ll look at what everyone around us has and wonder how we can possibly keep breathing oxygen without new stuff.

Most times, when we’re envious of someone, we decide that they don’t deserve the good thing that they’ve gotten (and that we deserve better). Right after Eden, we see this play out with Cain and Abel. Both men offer sacrifices to God, but only Abel’s is accepted. God gives Abel this warning:

“And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’”- Genesis 4:4-7 (ESV)

Sadly, what follows isn’t a lesson in Cain learning humility. Instead, we see Scripture’s first murder unfold, as Cain slays Abel out of jealousy.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship, a promotion, a house, etc. But when the longing for new things causes you to become bitter toward anyone who already possesses them, your desire has become a deity. And the god of lustful desire is not easily pleased. Why? Because there will always be someone who has a better job, a more romantic relationship, or a bigger house.

Ultimately, the root of envy is that we look to something other than Christ to give us identity and satisfaction. We think “Jesus is nice, but that other person has Jesus and a six-figure salary. That guy has Jesus and a pretty girlfriend. That guy’s so rich, he’s got a swimming pool in his swimming pool (sorry, had to get one SpongeBob reference in). “

But consider how much it means to have the approval of God through Jesus. The same Creator of the Universe who would have been fully justified in sending you to Hell doesn’t just tolerate you; He doesn’t just forgive you; He doesn’t just ignore your sin. No, He goes above and beyond by giving you the righteousness of Jesus. If you’ve trusted Christ, when God looks at you, He sees His Son’s perfection. If you grasp that, how could you possibly be bitter at anyone for having an earthly possession that you lack?

We’ve all read Philippians 4:13 (Heck, I wear it on a wristband almost daily), but the context behind that famous verse gives us great insight into staving off envy:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”- Philippians 4:10-13 (ESV)

Whether you run a Fortune 500 company or bag groceries; whether you’re single, married or somewhere in between; whether you drive a Cadillac or take the bus; if you’re in Christ, you have everything you need to be content and fulfilled. Don’t let envy stop you from rejoicing with those who rejoice.

Love Is Kind (Even When Others Aren’t)

Wear pants to your job interview. Don’t ask a girl about her weight.  Wikipedia is not a valid academic source.

These statements all seem obvious, right?  I very nearly lumped “Love is kind” into that same category and skipped ahead to envy; I mean, if I love someone, I’m not gonna deliberately be a massive jerkface to them.

So why is this reminder necessary? I believe Jesus provides a clear answer in Luke 6:

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:32-36 (ESV)

“Whoa there,” you might say. “I can love Christians or my romantic partner, but what’s all this talk about enemies?”

Jesus knows how easy it is to be kind to those you already love, but He doesn’t allow those whose lives He’s changed to stop there. No, when He gives you a new heart, He calls you to show compassion and gentleness to the ones that you deem least deserving.

If this is difficult for you to grasp, guess what? You were God’s enemy, and He loved you. Lest you think this is some exaggeration, consider Paul’s words in Colossians:

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”- Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)

To be “hostile” towards something doesn’t just mean a mild dislike or annoyance. It means an active, burning hatred. Before God changed your heart, that was your attitude towards Him. Even if you grew up in church, memorized Scripture, and went on mission trips, your refusal to trust in Christ was an act of war against His sacrifice for you.

Kindness doesn’t just extend to those who agree with us on every theological point. Kindness doesn’t just extend to those who share our political views. And, most importantly, kindness doesn’t just extend to fellow Christians. If the world is going to be changed, it will be through those who grasp the grace that God has shown to them and show gentleness and compassion to everyone around them. Scriptural standards on sin must never be compromised, but these standards must be shared graciously and considerately.

I close with Paul’s words in 2 Timothy:

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”- 2 Timothy 2:23-26 (ESV)

Love Is Patient: Long Fuses, Long Waits

We are not a patient culture.

We used to wait around for movies to become available at Blockbuster (RIP). Now, if something takes more than ten seconds to stream on Netflix, we’ve got pitchforks, tar, and feathers ready. Couples used to wait days or weeks for a love letter from their darling; now they’re ready to break up if a text message isn’t returned within fifteen minutes. And if the wrong emoji is used? We need to get the National Guard ready.

Those are obviously exaggerations (I hope), but God knew what He was doing when He inspired Paul to list patience at the top of his list of love’s attributes. If patience was a struggle in Corinth, it’s definitely difficult to master in 2015 America.

While I don’t want this series to overemphasize the romantic aspect of love, I won’t pretend it’s not relevant to people; especially around Valentine’s Day. In addition to discussing patience with one another, I’ll close this post by addressing singles who may be sick of waiting around for “God’s timing” or “a knight in shining armor.” Anyone know where I can get a functional suit of armor, by the way?

Remember: God was (and is) patient with you.

One barometer to test your patience is to attempt to teach someone how to perform a task. Once my mom got an iPod for the first time (thus breaking the Hilling family’s anti-Apple covenant), I learned that I was not patient. I’d have to walk her through the same processes multiple times, and have to convert the same Blake Shelton and Jimmy Buffett albums (this blog is a judgment-free zone) to MP3 twice or three times.

If small frustrations like that cause my head to spin, imagine how easy it would be for God to look at us with disdain after He watches us commit the same sin over and over again; the Old Testament is filled with stories of Israel doing just that.

Yet in 2 Peter, we read:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”- 2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)

We don’t like thinking about this, but God would have been fully justified in saying “Forget it” once Adam sinned in Eden. Instead, He not only forgave Adam and Eve, but He later sent Jesus to die for a people that would continue sinning against Him.

If God can be that slow to wrath, why does it take so little to set us off? Why do we magnify the faults of others instead of walking through trials with them? Once we grasp God’s patience with us, we’re free to love those who seem unable to stop making the same mistake over and over. While rebuke and correction may be necessary, even challenging words should be spoken in an attitude of grace with the understanding that spiritual growth is a long process. Don’t expect full sanctification overnight; it didn’t happen for you, and it won’t happen for those around you.

Single and sick of it: Why should I wait?

Behind the “forever alone” memes and jokes about animals being someone’s valentine, February 14 often brings feelings of loneliness and despair for singles. As everyone else is holding hands and eating spaghetti Lady And The Tramp style (which seems unsanitary, just sayin’), you’re wondering if you’ll ever be in a relationship with anyone other than Netflix.

The Bible is filled with stories of people who compromised. These were great men and women of God that accomplished great things through Him, but their sins still had consequences. Abram and Sarai get tired of waiting on God’s promise, banish a servant, and birth a child that grows up hostile toward everyone (Genesis 15-16). David lusts after a woman, gets her pregnant, and has her husband killed (2 Samuel 11).

There are other examples of compromise leading to consequences, but I’d like to end on an Old Testament story that captures patience better than any I can think of. Jacob meets Rachel, and instantly falls for her. Problem is, he has to work for Laban for seven years before he can marry her. That doesn’t seem long in “Bible time,” where periods of 200 years are discussed in a paragraph, but if Jacob met Rachel at a Sweet Sixteen party, he couldn’t have married her until he graduated college. That’s a long time!

Yet, we read this:

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”- Genesis 29:20 (ESV)

I’m not guaranteeing you a relationship. I’m not saying that serving God means He has to give you a husband/wife, three kids, and a dog.

What I will say, however, is that if you learn to be content in Christ and patiently grow friendships with those around you, God is capable of putting everything else into place. If you wind up remaining single for the rest of your life, He will be enough for you if you trust Him. But don’t compromise. Don’t lower your standards and impulsively take the first chance that looks good. Wait for someone who will follow Christ with you and grow in Him with you.

Once you trust in Jesus, no wait will feel too long.