Sunday, August 10, 2014
"On Fire": Let GOD Tell YOU When You Are READY
"'Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.'"---Ezekiel 16:8(NIV)
Earlier this week...
For a myriad of reasons, I found myself reading Ezekiel 16. If you look at the New International Version, the title of it is "Jerusalem as an Adulterous Wife". What I personally appreciate about it is that it walks us through how a relationship between God and Jerusalem was established and also how Jerusalem started to show out. Indeed, you don't "accidentally" break vows or become unfaithful. A series of things leads to it. Anyway, as I was doing some praying for the "On Fire" women, it was verse 8 that captivated me.
Later, when God passed by, he saw that Jerusalem was old enough for love.
Old enough for love. *Old enough*. For love.
That reminded me of the Message Version of Matthew 19:11-12:
"But Jesus said, 'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.'"
And *that* made me think of something that the Shulamite woman was responsible enough to say to her sistah friends in the Song of Solomon:
"Women of Jerusalem, promise me by the gazelles and the deer not to awaken or excite my feelings of love until it is ready."---Song of Solomon 2:7(NCV)
Ready for love.
Love is a lot. It's definitely something to be ready for.
Over the course of the past several weeks especially, there have been quite a few women who have written me to tell me that they are tired of waiting on a husband. I'll speak from personal experience and say, for one thing, if you feel like all you're doing is waiting, then you're already missing a really big point of this season (Ecclesiastes 3:1) of the journey. And what is that? Well, if you're not married, in some way, on some level, *you are not ready.
Not for the kind of marriage that God wants you to have anyway...
Sure, it's easier on the ego to tell ourselves *the lie* that we're waiting because our future husband has some things that *he* needs to get together. And while to a certain extent, that may be true, just having that perspective alone is pretty presumptuous and pride-filled: two things that you don't want to take into a marriage if you want it to be successful.
Besides, if you put Ezekiel 16, Matthew 19 and Song of Solomon 2 together, it would seem that the more appropriate (and accurate) thing to say is "I wonder how long it will take for me to get ready for marriage."
And *that* is a loaded inquiry.
One Hebrew word for ready is athid or athud. It actually means ready and prepared. When you're ready for something, you're "completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use". When you're ready for something, you're "duly equipped, completed, adjusted, or arranged, as for an occasion or purpose". Now be honest. If your husband was to knock on your door tonight, could you really say that you are *ready* for him?
Are you clear about your purpose and calling on this earth?
Are your finances in order?
Are you sexually healthy (this would include abstinent...that would include no masturbating)?
Are you healed from your past relationships?
Are you actively doing all of the things that would be harder to compromise after marriage?
Are you working to resolve things with your parents and other family members?
Are you asking God to reveal to you the broken areas that you may have?
Are you quick to forgive?
Are your moods consistent?
Are you growing spiritually?
That's just 10 questions; however, in order to be a true blessing to your husband, they are 10 highly-relevant ones. They are things that, if you can't say "yes" to yet, you should be working on. Being a wife is about being a helper (Genesis 2:18). Before you can help someone else, you need to be pretty stable yourself.
In fact, that's a part of what I like about another definition of ready. It's "willing". If you *really* want to be married, a part of what getting ready for it requires is being *willing* to let God show you where can you stand to become more equipped. Where you are not yet complete, as a single individual (James 1:4). And yes, that requires patience. But hey, love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4-NKJV), right?
And then there's another Hebrew word. It's kun. It actually means "established"; however, it can be used into the context of "make ready".
You have no idea how many couples I deal with who are basically like "This? This what I'm in right now? It is so not what I signed up for." And here's the thing. A lot of what they are dealing with isn't any heartwrenching drama. It's simply the daily challenges that come with sharing your life with someone, not being selfish (Philippians 2:3) and doing marriage as God intended rather than how we as humans want it to be (Ecclesiastes 5:22-33). It's hard to do that when you got married before you were (spiritually) ready. Before you let God *make you ready*.
Although I haven't used to word El Berith in quite some time, it's referenced on the top left-hand side of the page. It's the title for God in reference to covenant and just as I told a friend of mine who was attending a wedding over the weekend, "You can get married a lot of times. You can only enter into covenant once." Your first partner, until death parts you, that is your covenant partner. The Word makes that clear (I Corinthians 7:10-11). There are people with multiple partners and when I asked about it, God showed me in a devotional a few months back that those instances are a lot like Isaac vs. Ishmael when God told Abraham, "I can bless Ishmael but he is not a part of my covenant." (Genesis 17) Ishmael was Abraham, Sarah and Hagar's doing. Isaac was God's. Marital covenant must be done God's way and he said that wives are not to leave/divorce their husbands. If they do, they are to remain single or be reconciled to them.
So what if the ex marries someone else? That definitely makes reconciling close to impossible and something that any divorced woman in that predicament should take the prayer. However, there are so many people who simply assume that divorce makes them single. *It doesn't. It makes them divorced*. And if their ex is still single, according to the Word, it makes them not free to marry anyone else but their ex. If they want to be in covenant, that is.
Covenants, of any sort, is serious. God doesn't break his covenants. We are made in his image, in part, to not break them as well (which is why single people also should not date divorced people; it's a "stumbling block" towards them reconciling with their covenant partner and Romans 14:13 tells us that we are not to be a stumbling block for anyone---ANYONE).
Why am I saying all of that?
Because if you look at the video right under this, you'll see that entering it a marital covenant, making a vow to El Berith (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), is serious. It's not something to tell God that we are ready to do. It's something for him to tell us that we are ready for. It's something that we must be willing to do whatever it takes to prepare in the meantime for.
I know it can be hard. Looka here, I'm 40, going on eight years of no sex and I counsel married couples. I know how trying the waiting---um, the getting ready season---can be. Yet if you're following this blog, then you're not someone who just wants to get married.
Remember what the tag line says this: *You desire marital covenant*.
A union that honors God, brings spiritual growth to you and your partner and ministers to others until death.
That's a pretty tall order...
It's not something that you tell God you're ready for.
He invented marriage and created you and your future spouse, remember?
When you're ready, trust me, *he'll tell you*.