"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
Over 10 years ago, I stood on the platform at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, CA on Good Friday and shared a testimony on abandonment. My words from Christ's last? "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" meaning, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” At 27 years old (what a baby!) I didn’t know what was to come over the next decade and how a good portion of it wouldn’t be what I expected or planned. I spoke on what not having an earthly father looked like for me and in the summer of 2014, after a heart wrenching break up revealed a huge area of brokenness in me, I made an intentional decision through prayer and the guidance of Scripture-filled women to enter into a walk to healing about and forgiveness for my father with a Biblically-based counselor. Let it be known, I am a huge fan of therapy.
I was growing up! But not just agewise; I was drawing closer to the person of Jesus and the promises my Father had for me when Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom Christ has set you free!” What followed this beautiful time of introspection and restoration, however, was a season of intense questioning, loneliness, and disillusionment with who God was and was to be in my life. I mean, I’m talking about some years here, my people.
Throughout that time, and even now, I had been living in the shame of decisions I made to fill the spaces left behind, allowing the unknown of the in-between to wreak havoc on my contentment while making decisions to fulfill my own timeline. I had determined, a long time ago, ultimate healing for my heart would come in the form of a (very handsome) man who would love me, cherish me, value me, and most importantly, never leave me. Can I get a witness?! (Current wives are like, “No.”) My sin patterns have always been in this space and, in honesty, it’s something I struggle with even today. But, Dude, where was he!?
Let’s pause here. Do you remember the time in Exodus when the Israelites got really testy and even though God had saved them from slavery in Egypt, they wanted to go back? I believe they were all like, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Actually, it’s exactly what they said. The drama. I live for it. You guys! But Egypt! The meat! They had so much meat and it was all we could’ve wanted and more in Egypt!” There was no meat in the wilderness (yet). There also wasn’t bondage, abuse, and torture. Because they had been rescued and were no longer slaves.
My heavens, don’t we just love to romanticize our pasts. I know I sure do! The horrendous break up that sent me into the searching parts of my heart? Yep, it wasn’t good. He wasn’t it. I just really, really, really wanted him to be. What did I remember? Everything was better then. But here’s the thing when we think about going back to Egypt: God said in Leviticus 26:13, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” The Israelites ate manna, a simple, daily provision and it says in Deuteronomy 29:5, neither their sandals nor their clothes wore out for 40 years. It sure wasn’t romantic but it was steadfast.
Our God is good and He is faithful and as I study His Word I am overwhelmed by the knowledge of how He is the one who never leaves me and never forsakes me. I don’t have any business or need looking back to where He brought me from (though, real talk, sometimes I do!). He cherishes me and values me above all else. He is madly, madly in love with me and if it were only me here, He’d still have come to sacrifice his messy body to let me know just that. He took my shame. He took my discontent. He took my impatience. He took my sin. He nailed it on a tree. And in return, I get to set my eyes on Jesus, my true end goal and desire.
Who knows? You may be going through divorce, treading a fine line between here and Glory, your womb may be barren, you may have just lost another baby or your job. But let me share with you what I believe to be the most beautiful part of my story: at 38 years old, I am still single. Not what you expected to be “beautiful”, huh? Me neither. I think we wait for the good news of a ring and wedding announcement in these types of stories, don’t we? He’s come! He’s found her! That’s not yet the ending to my story, though. I am still single and my God is still faithful. My earthly man hasn’t found me but He has. A husband hasn’t yet come but He has. I am finding such perseverance in the journey as I realize my hope doesn’t lie on this side of heaven.
Please hear me with care here: He may never stop the bleeding, she may never come back, you may have to say goodbye sooner than you’d like, but remember our God is faithful in the midst. His promise wasn’t to keep us without the fire but to hold us within. He has triumphed over the grave, over death, over shame, over sin. It is finished. It has been accomplished. Christ in us, the hope of glory.