Reading about the lives of the prophets in the OT is really hard. I can’t imagine some of the struggles they went through, much less the things they had to surrender so that God would be most glorified in their lives. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this last part as of late.
First, let’s consider Ezekiel. Here was a man who had to face opposition when speaking colorful illustrations against the people of Judah, but also had a few comforts; he wasn’t under direct threat of death, he had a wife, etc. Some of that changed when we hit chapter 24, however. God told him that He would remove his desire for his wife (v16), that she would die (v18), and that he was not to mourn for her publicly. This was a sign to the people for when they learned of the fallen Jerusalem in latter days. Ezekiel had his desire for his wife removed, had to watch her die, then could not mourn for her in public – God was being glorified, and he kept serving.
Next, consider the case of Hosea. Chapter 1 (v2) tells us that God instructed him to take a wife of harlotry. The poor guy had to endure all kinds of struggles with her, which also included buying her back and committing to loving her after her many harlotries. He had her to fight for in the long run, but I cannot imagine the difficulties therein. But, as with Ezekiel, God was being glorified, so he kept serving.
Finally, consider the prophet Jeremiah, who was not allowed to marry at all (16:2). This man was in physical danger many times, unlike Hosea or Ezekiel. He faced constant ridicule, punishment, and derision from everyone in the land; he was an outcast whenever he spoke, making his life hard and lonely as it was. Not being able to have a wife at all is a detail that most people probably overlook in their study of this man – God was glorified, so he kept serving.
Now, let’s talk about me.
All I want in the physical sense is to have a wife to care for; someone that I can defend, give gifts to, reach out to in times of need. This reminds me of Jeremiah – but perhaps that is not in God’s plan. If I were to be given that gift, what kind of woman would God require of me to redeem? I want to have an attitude like Boaz, the redeemer, but also the patience of Jacob – minus his attitude about physical gain. What if God does bless me with a wife, but then required that I endure he death for His greater glory? There is always a chance that He would require all of these things, so there must be more in my heart than the planning of a family or specific life goals and details.
Daniel spent the greatest portion of his life serving in the captivity of an ungodly ruler. He worked as unto the Lord, doing his best work and praying daily for rescue. Job suffered the loss of everything he had, save his final strength that God gave him to endure the punishment. Habakkuk had to wait patiently while God worked in ways beyond his sight, though he had asked for an explanation in direct conversation with Him. These are only a few examples from our reading plan so far this year; what other patterns will I find in the NT?
My main question – primarily directed to myself – is what my focus is currently, and what it should be long-term, here on this earth. I want to glorify God in whatever ways I can; does that equate to the endurance these men had before God? I love to ponder what my name means (strong, manly, enduring) but clearly the only way anyone can make it through the suffering detailed in Scripture is by relying on strength that is not his own. I do not have the fortitude to go through another 60 – 80 years of working alone, living alone, praying alone; God must be my refuge and strength. I barely have enough to get through a day or two, at times.
Quick note regarding marriage: God removed the burden of my long-lasting dating relationship a year or so ago. I no longer feel the weight of that, though reading Jeremiah brought back to feelings of loss from that experience; to have been pursuing marriage, and then having to call it off, doesn’t feel great for a single guy. While that was because of my own lack and laziness as a man of God, I understand a little bit of what Jeremiah went through, I think.
But what should I say? The Bible is full of people who endure great struggles on behalf of what God has told them to do. My issue, I believe, is that I’m not certain what God has told me to do. I feel a call to help people, however possible, and I have more desire to openly publish anything I can tie back to God every day. So far, that means writing, podcasting, matte painting, photography, speaking, and who knows what else. I would not consider any new task – caring for a family, for example – to invalidate any of those burdens, but that’s all I can see right now.
I’d like to have a few simple goals every day:
- Read, pray, and study His word.
- Create something pointing to Him.
- Help people, however I am able.
Regardless of what God has in store for my life, those need to be constants. At the beginning of the year, I spoke with my blood parents (followed by my “adopted” parents) about finally wanting to push for something that I could see off in the distance. My desires to publish in various ways and mediums was born from that desire; it’s what keeps me going every day. I had to ask, though, what would happen if God took that away? What would I live for, if I could not serve Him in the ways I detailed above? Do I have the faith to keep loving Him and living for Him, even with no way to publicly express it? Would something extreme like a bed-ridden existence be enough to point people back to Him? Do I know enough about Him and His Word to honor and glorify Him without material methods?
If all was lost, what would be found as a treasure? Do I love God enough to exist with nothing to do but sit quietly before Him?
All of that is colorful and interesting, but I’m certainly not hoping or praying that I have to endure any of it! This isn’t a suicide note, I am not deeply depressed, there are no sharp objects nearby. I write this for the same reason I write anything: I draw a line in the sand so I know where I was standing, then take a few steps and look back to prayerfully consider where I should go from there. My enduring hope is that God will grant me the opportunity to redeem one of His daughters; that I would be able to glorify Him through that relationship and the exposition of His truths through the methods I listed above. I can only hope and pray for His aid in whichever context He choses to place me here on this earth. God will be glorified – I will keep serving.