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Wait for MeREDISCOVERING THE JOY OF PURITY IN ROMANCE
By REBECCA ST. JAMES DALE REEVES
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2002 Rebecca St. James
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDream Again
RECOVERING THE DREAM OF TRUE ROMANCE
Darling, did you know that I dream about you waiting for the look in your eyes when we meet for the first time
If you're a girl, perhaps you've grown up with the desire to be rescued by a knight in shining armor. If you're a guy, maybe you've thought about being the knight who rescues his princess. In either case, is it only a dream or is it a God-given desire, purposely placed within you by God Himself?
I believe that God has placed "The Dream" inside each one of us, unless He has specifically called you to singleness. We each have a desire for intimacy, for someone to know us fully and love us completely. We long to be able to share our hearts and still find acceptance. A guy longs to protect; a girl longs to be protected. And that's exactly the way God created us. When we follow His plan, there are great blessings in store.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:11–13 NIV)
Unfortunately, in this culture today, so many people have given up on "The Dream," and have chosen to accept something less than God intended for them. As one girl said to me, "I was about ready to give up any kind of hope that there are any guys out there who are willing to wait (sexually and emotionally) for the one that God will bring to them in His perfect time ... I've always known a few girls who want to wait, but I actually read e-mails from (gasp!) guys who were saying the same thing. That is so rare to find. God's way is truly best!"
I hope that in these pages I have helped to defy a modern misconception: that romance can be fun and exciting only when it involves breaking the rules. Immorality is glamorized everywhere: on TV, in movies, and in most music today. What the entertainers don't show or sing about is the very unglamorous, often agonizing consequences of an immoral lifestyle. Truth is, the most joyful, beautiful, exciting romance is the one that is pure. It is also the most free! Pure romance is not bound by sexual addiction or selfish motives and desires. It is free to love within God's perfect boundaries.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.... You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Gal. 5:1, 13 NIV)
Can you picture with me the joy of the couple that has waited? They have a wonderful storybook wedding with family and friends wishing them well. The bride wears white, truly signifying the purity of her heart and body.
As a special part of the wedding ceremony, the groom gives his bride a ring that he has worn on a chain around his neck, a symbol of his own commitment to sexual purity. It has helped him remain strong in his promise to God and to her for the years leading up to this beautiful day. She receives the ring with tears in her eyes.
Hours later the groom carries his bride over the threshold of the cabin that is to be the honeymoon suite. He soon has a cheery fire burning in the fireplace, and after unpacking a few things, his joyful bride approaches him with an expectant, trusting, and contented smile on her face. As he reaches out to enfold her in his arms, both know that they are united with God's blessing and protection on their mutual commitment of love within marriage. They are now ready to learn and make many first-time memories together.
I received a letter from an eighteen-year-old guy who expressed these thoughts:
At the moment I am trying to buy a "wait for me" ring; I want it so badly because I got this amazing picture in my head one night in church, and I am going to try my hardest to make it come true. I was picturing my wedding day. Imagine how great it would be if I wore the ring from now until that day. My wife and I look at each other, dedicate our lives to each other, exchange vows, and then we exchange rings. When she looks down at my hand, I want her to see the ring, the ring that states that I've waited my whole life just for her, and then she takes that ring of and replaces it with a new one, one that shows that I no longer have to wait ... that she is here. I think that will be one of the most beautiful pictures in my entire life. This is the God-intended dream that can actually come true.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see god." (Matt. 5:8 NIV)
IN GOD'S HANDS
Several years ago I was asked to play the part of Mary in a touring Christmas musical called "Child of the Promise." I thoroughly enjoyed learning the songs I was to sing, as well as the other characters' songs. One that was especially meaningful to me was Elizabeth's song, appropriately named "When the Dream Never Dies."
In the book of Luke, we learn that Elizabeth was Mary's relative. Elizabeth had a dream: for years she had desired to have a baby. But as time passed and Elizabeth had already reached old age, everyone believed she would never have her longed-for child. Then an angel appeared to her husband, Zechariah, foretelling that she would bear a son named John.
In the musical, when Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant, this is the song she sang out of gratitude to God:
Kept warm by the flame of desire
A dream held in secret I yearned to hold openly
Fanned by my hope into fire
It burned to such heat I could touch it no more
So I put it away and then closed up the door
Forever extinguishing all that would keep it alive
But the dream never died
The Lord has done this for me, he has looked on me kindly
He has heard all my cries
He has given me back what I laid at his feet
It must be God, when the dream never dies
Isn't it just like the Lord to invite me
To put all my dreams in his hands
Forever releasing the grip that once held them
Forever surrendering my plans?
And then when he's certain it's not born of men
He calls for the fire to rekindle again
And he asks me to know in my heart what's not seen with my eyes
So the dream never dies.
I not only love the hope that is in this song but also the challenge to "put all my dreams in his hands" and "forever surrender my plans." For we can know and trust the fact that, as the old TV show said, "Father knows best."
"love is patient." (1 COR. 13:4 NIV)
The reason so many of us have lost sight of the dream is because our culture has trained us to think a certain way; it has sold us the lie that the dream is not possible. I was saying to a friend just the other day that I believe a lot of people get married today largely out of fear that they will be left behind and left alone. They don't wait for their soul mates, or the best friends with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives, because they've lost sight of the dream ... or maybe they never believed in it in the first place.
When the dream has been lost, misplaced, or just covered up by disappointment, we need to dream again, to reset our thinking.
I have a beloved old hair dryer that I inherited from a house guest who accidentally left it behind. This hair dryer does its job very nicely, not too "blowy," not too hot—just right. But for this lovely "Old Red" hair dryer to work its magic, the reset button has to be pressed every time. Otherwise it just sits there, incapable of action.
I think that old hair dryer is a little like us. Unless we press that button to reset our thinking, we are paralyzed by our fear, by our past, or by thoughts from our culture. By staying paralyzed and not experiencing the freedom of complete trust in Jesus, I believe we often keep the dream from being realized. Let go, my friend. Recover the dream.
Even though there are guys who seem to be looking for "easy" girls, I really believe that their hearts' desire is to find someone who has never given herself to anyone, and will only do so when she has found her lifelong companion. That's because God placed that desire in their hearts. This is the ideal, the dream, but for many the dream has been lost, shattered, or torn into a thousand pieces. Now you may be willing to settle for so much less than what God intended.
For some of you this book will be like preventive medicine, a shot that will hopefully keep you from making big mistakes. For others of you, your dream has been stolen from you, or willingly given but then regretted. May this be a book of healing and protection from this day on! To those of you who have already given in to sexual temptation, the next two chapters may seem to point a finger. But please read them carefully and know that my desire is to encourage you as well as to inspire those who haven't stumbled. I hope that after you read them you will be aware of your choices from here on—no matter what is in your past. This is a book of beauty, of joy, of forgiveness ... of hope.
"Create in me a pure heart, o god, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (PS. 51:10 NIV)
Lord Jesus, thank You for placing "The Dream" in my heart. Lord, I know You have promised that You have plans to prosper me and not harm me, to give me hope and a future. Help me to be strong in the knowledge that You have a perfect plan for my life. I want to trust You. I lay my future at Your feet. I put my life in Your hands. I bring any shattered dreams to You for healing. Here and now I ask You to reset my thinking. Help me to dream again.
I love You, Lord, In Your name, Amen.
A fifteen-year-old girl e-mailed me with her story:
About a year ago I got into some pretty tough stuff. I gave in to my own sexual desires and trapped myself in porn. I let it control me. I was a practicing Christian before I was trapped. So when I would surround myself with this, God kept giving me signals and warnings to stop and turn back, or else things would get really nasty in my life. I didn't listen. I didn't really want to hear from God at that time.
Close to the summer I confessed to my boyfriend what I was doing with my free time. He, surprisingly, understood but could not offer me any help.
That summer I went on a mission trip to Mexico. I spent all ten of those days refocusing myself on God, and I asked him to come back into my life. A few weeks later, on a youth retreat, I confessed my sins to my closest friends....
At one of your concerts, God spoke through you. I gave up absolutely everything to God, and more importantly, I asked him for help. It worked. God helped me. He forgave me of my wrongdoings and remains patient with me when I slip up every now and then. There's a long road still to travel, but I know in my heart that God's there to help all the way.
Chapter TwoMind Matters
GUARDING YOUR THOUGHTS TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS
Darling, did you know that I pray about you Praying that you will hold on keep your loving eyes only for me
THE EYES DON'T LIE
Have you ever really looked into the eyes of a small, happy child? There is such light and joy there. Often, though, if a child grows to an age of accountability and does not give his or her heart to Jesus, that light of innocence and purity is lost. There are a few adults in my life in whom I especially see that beautiful, childlike joy. My worship leader, my grandma, a singer/friend of mine—all of them exhibit a special light that radiates. It's a purity of conscience, a childlike wonder at life and the simple love of Jesus that shines forth through their eyes. I desire that in my own life and in my eyes.
On the other hand, I have also known people in my life who, either because of shame, pain that has not been dealt with, or many other possible reasons, can barely look me in the eye.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (MATT. 6:22–23 NIV)
If the eye is the "lamp of the body," then we should be very careful what we allow to gain entry into our minds through our eyes. Our eyes have also been referred to as "the windows of the soul," so we really need to put spiritual blinders on to protect our hearts and minds. Perhaps your eyes have allowed images into your mind that were ungodly and impure. Yet no matter what the past may have been, there is still a way to purity of the eyes, where light replaces the darkness. It is a matter of surrendering the past, present, and future completely to Jesus. Even when we think no one is watching, we must be faithful to live for Him, in His way and His light. Since our eyes say so much about our lives and how we have lived them (or are living them), the lack of light, taken away by deeds of darkness, will show—in our lives, in our eyes, or in eternity's unveiling.
"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible." (EPH. 5:11–13 NIV)
After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they ran and hid from God in an attempt to cover their shame. Guilt is a very powerful thing. It clouds one's vision and can really paralyze a person. That's exactly what Satan wants. After he tempts us to sin (as he did Adam and Eve), then he continually throws that sin back in our faces, whispering, "You're not really worthy of God's affection, so you might as well give up." He is all about temptation, and then accusation. He wants nothing less than to condemn you, make you carry around a lot of guilt, and ultimately destroy you.
One of Satan's greatest tools is isolation. He loves to tempt you when you are alone, whispering, "No one will ever have to find out." And to combat him, we need to seek out some trusted friends who can help keep us accountable in this area.
THE POWER OF THE MIND
God created the human brain as a computer with an unbelievable memory capacity. Your brain is able to recall thoughts and images from many years ago. It has been well documented that when one views pornography, powerful biochemical reactions kick in that can lead to addiction. When someone is excited by an image, the adrenal gland in his or her body secretes a chemical called epinephrine into the bloodstream, and the visual image eventually lodges itself in the brain. That explains why many adults say they can still recall the first pornographic image they ever viewed. God wants to spare you the pain of such an addiction. So the simple message is this: don't even begin to play with the fire, or you'll get burned.
"You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
"Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump." (Matt. 5:27–30 The Message, emphasis mine)
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Ps. 119:37 NIV)
ALL ELSE FADES
On days off, from time to time, I visit a bed-and-breakfast. It is a wonderful time to be still, play, rest, read, sometimes fast, and just be ... with God. I have had some amazingly memorable times when I'm there. One trip in particular stands out in my mind. I was sitting on the front porch of the house, watching the sunset. It was that time of the day when you can face the sun without being blinded by its usual brightness. I had been gazing quite intently at the sky in the direction of the sun when a bird caught my attention in a nearby tree. I shifted my eyes to look at it, and all of a sudden, my vision blacked out for a moment. I had to blink my eyes a few times to restore vision enough to see the bird. I realized that my eyes had so adjusted to the brightness of the western sky that the things around me had faded into the background and could not be seen as long as my eyes stayed focused toward the sun. I felt God speak to my spirit with a spiritual parallel to this picture. When we focus our eyes on the Son, Jesus, then the things of this world, its temptations, worries, fears, and hurts pale in significance. They fade into the background. I am reminded of a familiar song:
look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of his glory and grace.
Excerpted from Wait for Me by REBECCA ST. JAMES DALE REEVES Copyright © 2002 by Rebecca St. James. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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