I’ve been lead back to Genesis a lot recently, which is funny because I don’t usually spend much time there. I don’t mean to make it seem trite but sometimes Genesis feels like a movie you’ve seen so many times you can hit play then go get the popcorn. But this last trip back to the beginning has really got me thinking.
I’m about to get suuuper preachy here so hang on. Don’t worry, you’re going to love it.
You want to talk about singleness, look at Adam and Eve. But they’re a couple! Yeah, I know. The idea we get in our heads about being a couple is the version of them in the garden. But the reality, and the only choice we have now, is them outside of the garden. And that was no picnic.
Yeah, we got kicked out of a pretty sweet setup. God created Eden and it would have been great except for those two kids, a snake, and the whole tree thing. But this is also where we can really make sense of our condition outside of Eden by examining what got us kicked out — the lies of the serpent. As the daughter of a pastor, I’ve been heard this story a lot. A lot a lot. But I’d never thought of Eve’s temptation like this before, the core of the lies she was being sold:
1) There is a perfect version of your life God is withholding from you
2) Knowledge of it will make you happy
Let’s be real clear. These are perverse lies. There is no perfect version of your life. There is only the version you allow God to lead you through. This may or may not include marriage. It may or may not include a happy marriage. Or children. Or medical debt. Or whatever. But God’s version is the best, the most blessed. Period. And we will not know it.
We will not KNOW what this version is.
We have to TRUST.
We have to have FAITH.
We have to BELIEVE that God wants the best for us.
And aren’t these the best qualities in a marriage? To know someone, trust them, have faith in them, believe in them. You can’t have those things if you know. They are the products of not knowing and loving anyway, the products of free will.
“You must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give.”#CSLewis
— C. S. Lewis (@CSLewisDaily) September 27, 2016
God will not supersede our free will. So we have to make choices. I’m going to explore this more later but you cannot underestimate the role this gift of choice plays in our story. The ability to love out of choice rather than knowledge is fundamental to our existence. If you knew exactly how things were going to work out, would you choose to love anyway or protect yourself from pain? Christ knew his fate and went forth with the mortal sacrifice out of love for us. But we are fallen, pre-programmed to the idolatry of an easy life. If you knew exactly how things were going to work out, it would be calculation not love.
The last time I was prayed over, someone called God my partner. Well that’s true. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be married, but right now but I have the best partner, the most capable, most gracious, and most loving. God knows what we want, He knows what we’re capable of, He knows the best version of ourselves, and we need to stop seeing His provisions (or lack of) a referendum.
Elizabeth Gilbert gave one of the best TED Talks I’ve ever heard and it comes up in conversation a lot. (Please watch it, it’s amazing.) The gist of it is that as a creative, you aren’t inspired — you have inspiration. Externalizing the feeling means that on days inspiration doesn’t show up, it’s not your fault. What a freeing thought! What if this wasn’t all on you. Well, hey, guess what? It’s not.
The same is true of provision. It is external to you. As my flatmate is fond of saying, you can’t screw up God’s vast plan for you and it’s foolish to think you have that much power — however, you can make it harder. And of course there are consequences for bad behaviour but that’s not the same thing as being completely in control of the unfurling of life, the universe, and everything. Because the wonderful truth is, you’re not.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
It’s okay to talk to God, to ask him, pray about the future, think about it. It’s not okay to turn it into sinful anxiety. I used to think the idea of living for today was the most selfish thing possible but now I understand. When God asks you to live for today, especially for someone like me who loves to be prepared, it’s the hardest thing imaginable.
When you say yes to God, you have to be open to what He brings in the day. You have to trust Him. You get to trust Him. To embrace a life of unknowing is to embrace real love.