One of my favorite old hymns is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and I catch myself singing it often--loudly, humming, softly just under my breath--all three verses.
Usually, by the time I reach the end of the hymn, I am struck again by the fact that now and again, God and I are poles apart in the “faithfulness” department.
Over the last couple of months, for example, I’ve allowed myself to become distracted by an issue that took me on a direct path out of the will of God. Let me explain--although doing so will reveal more of myself than I like to.
Following my divorce from a very abusive and unfaithful (but Christian) man, with whom I had lived and served the Lord for over 30 years, I had determined that in no way would I ever wish to share my life again, believing that I would be unable to fully trust another man, and also relishing my newfound freedom.
But then, after 9 years of living single, I began to get an itch to find a companion, a mate. And so, to my own chagrin, I joined a Christian dating site on the Internet. I was surprised to find that I had quite a few responses (not bragging here--the world is full of lonely people), from some seemingly earnest and realistic candidates. There were also a few sleazy characters, which was a shock to find on a Christian site (although I should never be surprised at the human condition).
This, then, is the confession: I became hooked on the attention, the earnest (even spiritual) communication I was having with a couple of the more viable hopefuls. The instant messaging became serious declarations of affection and future possibilities.
I knew, but ignored, the obvious: I had not yet even met these men, did not know whether they were who they declared themselves to be. I was just enthralled with the idea of romance.
There ensued a spiritual battle I had never known before. I wept; I pleaded with God; I raged at the injustices I’d suffered in the past; I cursed the very desire that was urging me to reach for satisfaction of some kind, any kind.
Not to get too clinical--I’ll stop before I begin babbling psychological mumbo-jumbo garnered from a year or so of personal therapy--I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I was still mourning the loss of my marriage and a husband I still love. Mourning deeply. And that God wanted to heal those deep wounds.
It was necessary, first, to confess the “mate-search” for the obsession it had become, and ask my Father’s forgiveness for so letting it consume my life.
When I could see more clearly, the song returned: “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my father!” With that came its counterpart: “Great is my faithlessness, O God my father.”
Then I had a sudden, deeper understanding of the message of grace: with all of eternity in mind, Jesus died for me, even knowing ahead of time all the periods of being unfaithful to Him which I would sink into throughout my life.
And yet, for all eternity, once confessed, those rank and wretched failures no longer exist in God’s mind.
This does not--repeat NOT--tempt me to keep repeating those miserable times of disobedience (deliberate or otherwise) because I know I’m “under grace.” On the contrary, I am so in awe of what all He has forgotten, I don’t want to offend Him by stomping (yet again) on His sacrifice for me.
It seems counterintuitive, but I’m thankful that I can remember my own faithlessness: the contrast between that and His faithfulness keeps me humble and grateful for His Spirit which enables me to live in His righteousness.
I know it has been said before, but: I just can’t get my mind around that kind of great and loving grace!
And so, still quite single and still sometimes too emotional about that, I praise God for His holding onto me with His faithfulness and tender mercies, which are totally new every morning.
What--or who--is in my future? Well, I don’t know. But it won’t matter because, for all eternity, GOD IS.
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