As I begin to write this, another year has passed, and as I look back I see many things: things of good, things of ill, things of light, things of dark—things I greeted with dark and dour pain, but which were blessings instead.
This month (targeted by this article) contains a day of celebration that has been twisted into one of romantic fervor, which true history would say was never the intention of the one being “honored”. That was an elderly man writing to a young friend and signing the letter, “Your Valentine”, because, you see, “Valentine” was the man’s name. It was the signing of a normal, pastoral letter from an old Christian to a young friend. It was not more.
As I look back I see souls that I would hold, but which I do not have. I look on a hope that others have dashed and bashed against the walls of their worldviews (and I am well aware that there are those who see me as no longer following God, but instead some deceitful demon that has me in its pocket—the Lord rebuke them). I look on those who undoubtedly think that they love me, but whom—I must entertain these doubts—have apparently not asked God what to do with, or about, me, having instead followed the typical societal norms, assuming that God will bless those choices. And I grieve—oh how I grieve—for I have come unto my own (for they were gifted to me by God) and they have received me not.
God, then, asked me, “How do you think I felt?” 1
The greatest blessing a person can receive from God is not physical, it is not monetary, it is not sexual, it is not power (though it is powerful), it is not mental (and therefore not philosophical), it is not spiritual, it is not even mere salvation (and I would argue that mere salvation is no salvation at all).
Millennia ago there was a group of people going about, teaching about God, and their greatest celebrations were reserved for when they went through suffering because of their adherence to the matters they taught. Were they celebrating their suffering? No! They were celebrating the fact that they were counted worthy to suffer for those teachings. And who was it that was counting them worthy?
Certainly not those who were executing that suffering upon them. They wanted them gone! They wanted them dead! They wanted them to shut up! They wanted those teachings gone! Forever!
Who was counting them worthy?
It was none other than the one who gave them those teachings in the first place! It was God who counted them worthy! It was God who counted them worthy to go through what He had already gone through in this earth—that is His! God counted them worthy!
He wasn’t counting them worthy to suffer. No! What an awful blessing that would be! No! He was counting them worthy to—as the Spanish might put it, via con Dios—to go with God, to walk the way that God has walked. You are, in essence, walking with Him. Going through the worst of times, He wants you there with Him, at His side.
When someone is facing the end, do they call their worst, most intransigent enemies to them? No. They call their best, most treasured friends to their side, because in their worst of times they do not want to be alone. They do not want to feel abandoned and unloved.
My young friend, whom I do still miss, and whom I do still love, might have abandoned me, but, then, they are not the one to whom God called for this time.
For better or for worse, the one to whom He called was me. He wanted me to understand how He felt when His own rejected Him.
I look back over the 14 years during which this was being shaped and transpired, from the very first inklings to its ultimate fulfillment, the disappointment, and, finally, the divine explanation and χάρισμα embrace.
God wanted me to know that time. I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around the consequences of that thought, indeed of that concept, that God wanted me (Of all possible people, why me? What possible explanation could account for such an endowment to me?) to know His heart through that awful time when He was rejected by His own.
I remember, all these years later, having been pondering on the times that I was allowed to see the impending marital unions of others, while I was being kept, and made to suffer, alone, and I could not see past my own pain and sufferings at the hands of those wicked, false Christians that still to this day pollute the Presbyterian Church in America to the most astonishingly ultimate gift that He would proffer upon me, that during His long walks of lonely disregard, of all people (and I still ask why) He wanted me at His side.
I remember (though I, of course, did not see it then) at the inception of those years, with me grousing about my own loneliness, that a particular, abundant, family visited the church at which I was attending, sitting on the right side of the sanctuary more toward the front, and that, in the immediately following days astonished rejoicing was born in my heart (and I even remember where I was standing in which aisle of the warehouse) when, in the spirit, suddenly, out of the blue, God spoke into my spirit the words, “She is in your life—right now” accompanied by the clear and unmistakable impression that she would not stay, but would return later.
I remember where my focus would go during those times, and how much more desperately and painfully alone I felt. Oh! How much repenting I must do! Not in a thousand lifetimes of a thousand lifetimes could I ever hope to list it all out! But by Christ my debt is paid!
I remember when He told me, “I have placed a mark on you that will cause women to [fear/lust after/hate/loathe/mock/ridicule] you, and great harm will come to you [because of the mark], but I will remove that mark from the heart of one special lady, who will return to you in [repentant] Love,” and I reacted by setting up a watch for one who had been of that PCA filth that had done so much grave, slanderous harm to me to return to me, so that I could have my heart prepared and rejoicing to grant total forgiveness to them—but they have never come.
I remember seeing again and coming to know that abundant family and the joyous times we would spend in each other’s company—and a few hard ones, like when I was angry and grieving over being told, by God, to leave the church where they still attend, because a young wife in marital trouble was beginning to look to me instead of to God, and how the patriarch of that abundant family was the only one who cared enough to come and find me, and lay his spiritual arms around me.
I remember how, as a result of my obedience to God’s call, we drifted apart, that family and I.
I remember, as well, how, in the last couple years, one member of that family came back into my life, striking up a friendship with me that, to this very day, I do completely and totally treasure, and how, much to my amazement, that friend confessed her sins to me and returned, washed clean, to Christ.
If my earthly companion is to come from the “theologians” of the PCA, then they must return in repentant Love to be washed clean, but I hold the prophecy fulfilled in the person of one humble, trusting youth.
It is only to such a one that I may sign,
1This, of course, is a reference to John 1:11, “To His own He came, and His own received Him not”