It's pouring down rain suddenly. The air was so thick with moisture earlier and now the clouds have finally burst open completely. Just the sound drenches me and floods my ears.
I finished a book in a trilogy by my current favorite author Francine Rivers. It is the "Mark of the Lion" trilogy that she wrote back in the mid-nineties. They are epic tales of people in first century Rome. This woman's writings have done much to change my heart about God. Throughout my introduction with author in reading "Redeeming Love", I cried frequently at the idea of such a merciful, steadfast God that never turned His back on the main character even for a second. She brings the hardest skeptics and the most faithful believers together to describe the most important battle a human will ever face. She doesn’t hold back in her exploration of the heart, either. She has spoken many things to me that God has wanted me to understand just by falling in love with her characters and story.
That brings me to Hadassah. (mild BOOK SPOILERS WARNING for anyone who plans on reading the series. It’s not anything that will ruin the journey though) She is the main character in the first book titled, “A Voice in the Wind”. Throughout the few years of time that we witness, she never falters in her faith but is strengthened to the point where she is given the ultimate honor. At this point I would suggest reading Foxes Book of Martyrs for moving accounts of others blessed with that honor. It’s not the sacrifice that is most beautiful but the faith to walk into death unafraid.
I was out with Em and Casey last night as the designated driver. I wore the keys on my belt loop proudly and stopped drinking at about eleven o’clock. I was concerned when my buzz went away that I would grow tired and bored and miserable. But the energy in the bar was saturated with other drunks being abandoned that I stayed entertained even up the point of closing the bar at 2am. I danced with Emily and four brave young men, played darts with a couple fellas from Wisconsin, and flirted until I felt irresistible. The only difference in me was I had my mental faculties fully in place and ready for any kind of normal life challenge (i.e. car troubles, rude guys, someone throwing up, etc.). I felt responsible but not in the least un-fun. And most amazingly, I prayed and thought of a fictional slave girl from Francine Rivers’ mind. I was thinking, “What would Hadassah do?” She would serve her Lord and God with amazing peace and consider all those around her in their oblivion. I felt freer when I remembered the freedom that she had. I felt like faithfulness wasn’t out of my reach even after so many years of doubt. If only I would trust God with the things I’m scared to let go of, He would show Himself. Well, He showed Himself last night and I was filled with compassion for many of those around me. It wasn’t depressing but I felt surges of hope and joy. Anyone could see it on my face and that made me strangely attractive. I love to be attractive! It’s like one of my favorite things ever.
The bar doesn’t present any temptations that I can’t easily distract myself from or resist. It’s when the guys become my friends and provide opportunities for me to rationalize sin that it becomes the challenge. Something in my brain clicks off when something in my thighs clicks on. I can go from a pure virginal child of God to a panting dog in heat in a matter of seconds. If my guy-friends or ex-boyfriends or whomever aren’t gentlemen or a believers themselves, I end up doing something STOOPID. Luckily God protected me last night but not before He showed me how easily my faith was smashed by lust. It’s that parasitic sin that I long to be freed from. I was encouraged to read how Hadassah struggled in her love for an unbelieving man. Her thoughts were so understandable and reminded me of my own when I use to cry out to Jesus to save me from my deceitful heart. When did I stop praying for His help? I stopped praying when I stopped wanting Him to help me. Just the word, “Celibacy” makes me sick; that commitment to be unsexy and unattractive for the sake of the gospel. So much of my worth is built around how attractive I am to men. No wonder I wasn’t willing to let that go. But I see the way God is providing for me to rise above it. Hadassah was ten times more attractive because of her faith. I was so relieved when I read that she was more radiantly beautiful because of her peace and trust in God. She won the heart of a decadent pagan who could have had any woman in the land and she felt sick with love toward him as well. But God strengthened her to stand up under temptation and she persevered. Her life planted a seed in his heart that I hope sprouts the most loving gift of all in the Roman. I will have to wait until I get the next book in the mail to find out.
When we love, we think of other before ourselves. I may want to sleep with them but God, Himself wants to woo them. If I can cage the drooling canine of lust long enough to resist the temptation, God can strengthen my faith in Him and my confidence in His works.