Today I had a conversation with a two and a five year old about half birthdays. It was in counting out theirs that I realized I was already a month past mine. I am a single woman, with no children (save for the two and five year olds of whom I am nanny to Monday through Friday), and in just five short months I will be celebrating my actual birthday. 30.
If you had asked me when I was a teenager or even into my early twenties if I thought I’d still be single at 30, I would have said I hoped not! Like most young ladies, I constructed this imaginary timeline in my mind appointing the proper ages at which I should be married by and when I ought to begin to have children. The funny thing about life, though, is that things don’t always, or rarely ever, work out the way you imagined them to! “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”
No, I would not have imagined I would still be unmarried, but I also would never have imagined finding myself thanking God that I am still unmarried. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply desire to have a husband and to be a wife. I have even made many poor and sinful choices in effort to attain it because I wanted it so badly. But sometimes when I am in quiet thought, my mind wanders back to these heartbreaking and painful experiences, and I am overwhelmed at the faithfulness of my Lord and Savior. His patience as my thirsty heart wandered from one mirage to the next and the way He has stayed with me through it all is baffling to my human heart and mind. It’s bewildering why He would wait for my rebellious, harlot heart to return to His, taking me, dirt-stained, thorn-torn with tangled hair from running in the wilderness, back into His arms. Yet He has. Every time. It is here in the disparity between my desperation and His perfect love that I can find a “thank You.”
I believe God put this longing for a husband in my heart, and this longing takes me to a deeper place than I could ever access on my own. From this soul-deep place there bellows a cry which can only be heard by One. It is an echoing heavy sigh which is only communicated between my God and me. So when I come before Him, He puts His soothing hand right over this place- the place where longing brings me to my knees. This unmet desire draws me closer to Himself. For this I thank Him. There is nothing on this earth to compare to His intimacy. He has used this unfulfilled dream as an open door for a richer relationship with Himself that is so unbelievably satisfying my words can’t describe it. This place is His presence. In His presence I more clearly see that this deep longing in my heart is actually a desire for the very One who gave me this heart. His presence satisfies. His presence makes me whole. In His presence there is fullness of joy. In light of such a Lover, trust and faith grows in the waiting. In the waiting there springs forth beauty and peace in surrender- my will, my desires, my hopes.. all of me. The surrender is worship. And worship is what we’re made for. “Thank You!” I’m thankful for a God who loves me so perfectly that He planned all this time and space for just me and Him. In this time and space He is giving me Himself. I find deeper recognition of who He is in these moments, and in knowing Him more, I know who I am in Him.
Though my naturally wild heart is prone to wander, time after time He’s there. He stays, not rebuking me, but wooing me. Gently, lovingly, beautifully He wins my heart over and over. He knows my desires cannot be fully satisfied by anyone other than Himself. He knows He is the answer to the deepest desire in the wild heart of His girl. His girl. His. And now after “I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,” I know He is mine. I am His and He is mine. This desire is beyond me.. As Jesus walks me into eternity with Him, so He wraps this desire up in the softest blanket of forever. There it is kept. Here I am kept. So when this heart of mine faints at the shadows of what it desires before arriving at the real thing, when in the desert I am tempted to give in to my craving, I will drink of the goodness of heavenly springs, and the burning thirst is cooled and quenched once again by His living waters.
“You do not want to leave, too, do you?”
Lord, to whom shall I go? Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire more than You. First Love, onward into glory. To the very end.
Author- Emmilou Harlan
I am a free-lance photographer, graduated from Northern Illinois University, whose favorite subject is the rural Midwest in which I grew up. Here is where I have come to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and here is where He has been growing and teaching me. www.emmilouharlan.com