"Which sweater is better to wear on a date? The pink or the green?"
A look of horror crossed my husband Mike’s face. "Pink. What do you mean, date?"
I giggled nervously. How would I explain?
Embarrassed, I shared with Mike what God had put on my heart. "Well, I feel like God wants me to go on a date with Him." I told him how I sensed that He was telling me to go to a certain upscale Italian restaurant and spend some quality alone time with Him.
Thankfully Mike was supportive. Without mocking me and in a tone that was encouraging he replied, "Sounds good!"
I drove to the restaurant. My Bible and laptop in tow. I was unable to remember a time when I went to a restaurant such as this alone. I don’t know if I ever had before.
There was a part of me that wasn’t excited about this date with God. Part of me that was in a frenzied state of not wanting to be alone with my thoughts and feelings and with Him. Part of me that wanted to shut Him out. That wanted to drown out that small, still voice.
We had just moved into a two bedroom apartment with two toddlers and then found out we were having twins. Finances had been stretched. Bills were piling. My husband had just started a new job on top of being in seminary full time. With all this stress, it seems my natural reaction would be to turn to God and cry out to Him. But it wasn’t. Instead I withdrew and questioned God. Why was He letting this happen? Did He really care? Was He going to care for me? Did He love me?
I pulled up to the restaurant feeling more than just a little reticent. I sat in the car for a couple of minutes debating whether I should go through with this and questioning if I was truly hearing God.
When I finally walked through the door of the restaurant, I tried not to be shy when asking for a table for one. I wasn’t going to explain that I wouldn’t really be alone. That they would be unable to see my date.
The server came up with a big smile, took my drink order, and brought me bread and dipping oil. I then placed my dinner order and was left alone.
I sat and closed my eyes for a moment. "Am I dumb? Am I really hearing you Lord? Why did you tell me to come here? Why not somewhere cheap at least?"
Sitting quietly, I tried to hold back the tears. I knew He was drawing me. I’d been fighting it. Trying to keep busy. Trying to stay distracted. And yet here I was, alone in a restaurant faced with my thoughts and feelings…and Him.
He had captured my heart as a child. He had made me His own. I still remember praying for Jesus to forgive my sins and to make me a new creation. As I grew up I continued to know Him in an intimate way. I had seen so many evidences of God’s faithfulness to me. Time and again, He poured blessings and grace upon my life. There would be an anonymous check or a gift card for groceries just when we needed it. People would buy diapers for the kids or share clothing that their children no longer needed. When we were sick people brought meals and would help with laundry. When our son was in the hospital people would come and visit us. God was faithful to me in giving me a good husband and dear children. More importantly He had redeemed me from my sins and restored me to Himself.
Even so, there are many times when I feel unimportant and I question His goodness. When I’m tempted to see myself as a failure; a reflection of imperfection and someone who doesn’t measure up. Feeling like I need to keep the perfect house, job, children, and body. Every expectation and opportunity is often seen as another area where I will fall short and mess up.
Yet, when I look at others I believe that God loves them. He has a plan for that person’s
life. But when it comes to me personally, I doubt. I doubt His love for me. I doubt that He wants to show me goodness.
At my table, I opened my laptop and began to write. I wrote the questions that were on my mind and all that I was feeling. How I had been tempted to feel forsaken and abandoned by Him. How I was tempted to feel condemned and ashamed and alone. How I knew my efforts were not enough. I asked Him about the life He said He would give me; and not just any life, life abundantly. I told Him how I was anxious and fearful and worried. How the pressures of this life were choking me and how I felt I was drowning, overwhelmed, and burdened.
And then it was His turn.
I opened my Bible and the words jumped off the page. Promises of peace, comfort, and joy. He was telling me to cast my cares and anxieties on Him. He was reminding me that His burden was easy. I realized that the yoke I had put on myself was not from Him, but it was from me. I had taken on so many unnecessary burdens. He reminded me that He would never leave or forsake me. His words were soothing, calming, and hopeful. They were wooing words.
In that moment at the restaurant, God was reminding me that He saw me as valuable. He saw me as "worth it." I wasn’t too expensive to be treated to this type of meal. I was His princess. He loved me and He wanted me to know it. He wanted me to remember that I’m the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). That I’ve been chosen by Him (1 Peter 2:9).
Psalm 149:4 says, "The Lord takes pleasure in His people, He adorns the humble with salvation." Takes pleasure. That’s what He says. He takes pleasure in His people. He loves us. He wants to woo us. He wants us to fall in love with Him again. Me included.
He doesn’t woo me to finish a check-list or to be the perfect woman. He woos me to Himself. He gives me hope. It’s more than just an emotional high of feeling loved by Him. My value is not based on myself, my character, or my good works. It is found in Christ. His perfect righteousness has become my own.
My questions that night were once again answered with the reminder that God does love and care about me, that He is faithful and has a plan for my life. Once again I needed to put my trust in Him that He is who He says He is.
True joy and peace flooded my heart not from the high of temporary feelings but founded upon the unchanging reality of God’s goodness. He keeps His promises. And while I’m sure these questions will come again, the truth of His Word remains.
For me, the time at the restaurant was just the beginning…once again. Jesus had broken through my hardened heart. He came when I was afraid. He came unbidden. He sought me even when I didn’t want to seek Him. He started it. He provoked it. He reminded me that I love because He first loved me.
That night was more than just a good meal, it was a fire rekindled in my soul. I was wooed over Italian. I fell in love with Jesus again.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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What Women Are Saying
--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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