“Do you believe?”

The sky was clearer than I remember it being in a long time; I couldn’t pass up a chance like this. 

Rock piles and bulldozers threatened to thwart my plans as they loomed ominously by the entrance to the parking lot. Great, I thought. Another moment, when I wanted nothing more than to spend time with God in His creation, was ruined—just like the time I realized condo-builders stole my favorite spot.

___________________________________________________

It was the end of summer, and I was getting ready to go back to college. I had just gone to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with my mom, and I don’t really remember why, but I just wanted to cry, and pray, and pour my heart out to God. I parked my car and walked the mile or two down the bike trail to where a narrow path took me to my favorite spot on earth: a small opening on the shore of the Plymouth bay. It wasn’t a public beach where other people would impose on my time with God. It was rocky; there was no sand. It wasn’t particularly spectacular, but it was quietly beautiful, and it was mine. Okay, not really. But it was a place where I could be alone. And in my mind, for the time that I was there, it was mine. 

But on the day I wanted it the most, it was gone, with no warning. A fence stood where the opening to that path once did. And behind it sat mounds of rubble, piled twenty feet high. I knew what was happening; people with lots of money would someday sit in their bedrooms and kitchens and look out on the bay where I once sat, except on rocks, for free. It was a treasure I had stumbled upon that was all my own, until now. They found it, and they took it, all for themselves.

They stole my spot, I thought bitterly. As the reality of what had happened sunk in, I turned around, and began to shuffle my way back down the bike trail, hoping no one would pass by me for fear they’d see the tears sliding down my cheeks.

How could you let this happen, God, on the day that I needed this the most? And all I wanted was to spend some time with You…

Looking back on it now, it sounds pretty silly. I don’t even remember why I felt like I needed it so bad. It’s not like anything majorly tragic was going on in my life. It was probably just another pity party over being single and not having any idea what I’m doing with my life—probaby something like that, because it usually is.

I think, though, by the time I got back to my car, I had come around and realized it wasn’t my spot I needed, it was God. And I have access to Him anytime, anywhere. And though I would miss my spot, I was thankful for the times I was able to spend there.

____________________________________________________

Three years later, I thought, Not again. I thought about turning around and heading home. It’s late, anyway, and it’s dark, and cold. But wait— my car could get through, and there wasn’t any sign saying I couldn’t go in… Be adventurous, I told myself. And so I drove down the dark, dirt road running parallel to the shore of Long Beach. When I parked my car and looked through the windshield at the masterpiece above and around me, I thought, This is too beautiful to watch from inside. I knew it was cold, but even just for a little bit, I needed to be outside to fully enjoy it.

At first, I sat on the concrete wall, and watched the waves. They’re small in the Plymouth Bay, but that’s part of what I like about them. Then, when I looked up and realized I couldn’t crane my neck back any farther without arching my back, I lay down. It felt like I was sitting in a planetarium. There is nothing small about the God that made this. It was as though someone had thrown a dark blanket over a glass dome, and then poked lots of little holes in it to let light through. The stars seemed strangely close, and yet I remembered the universe that stretches far beyond what my eyes can see or my mind can comprehend. More importantly I remembered the God who made the Milky Way, and the milkweed. This God, who is infinite, is concerned with the affairs of finite beings, whom He made. God is big, and yet He is near.

I began to shiver, and was reminded yet again that I am small and fragile. But as I climbed back into my car to escape the cold, and began to cry for reasons similar to why I did that day I realized my favorite spot was gone, I remembered once more that God is big, and He is all I need—and not only that He is big, and enough, but He is also good.

As tears spilled onto somber cheeks, as they so often do, it was as if I heard the Lord ask, “If My Hands can make what you see outside your window, can they not also work everything together for good for you? Do you believe that? If I ask you to be single for the rest of your life, do you believe it’s because I know that’s what’s best for you, and what will bring Me the most glory, and the most good to others as I work in their lives through it? That it is what will show you, specifically and personally, who I really am? Never mind if that is marriage for other people. If it’s singleness for you, will you consider Me worthy? Do you want Me more than you want marriage?” 

It’s easy to make a blanket statement to other people that applies to any situation they may be facing: “You should desire God above everything else. He’ll bless you for that.” It’s not so easy to realize I have a hard time accepting that myself. How can I honestly answer the Lord’s question: “Do you believe?”

What is it that I really believe? Is it that if I try to desire God, then He’ll eventually bless me with the thing I want so bad, and struggle with wanting more than Him? That if I try hard enough to put God first, then maybe He’ll bless me with a husband?

What is is that you really believe? That the blessing God promises for seeking Him first, the thing that will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33), is the job you’ve always wanted? The house you’ve dreamed of buying? The children you’ve longed to have?

I’ve heard the stories. “Once I just started focusing on God, and not worrying about getting what I wanted, He brought that man/job/child/fill-in-the-blank into my life when I least expected it.” I’m not trying to make light of that. I don’t doubt God blesses His children with good things that they desire when they’ve first sought Him above all else. But I’m totally missing the point if I say, “Okay, so I just have to focus on God, then I’ll get what I want …  Okay, God, I’m focusing …  Any time, now, really … “

I’ve been there. I’ve waited, and the anticipated blessing hasn’t come. But there have also been times when I’ve gotten what I thought I wanted, only to realize it wasn’t what my heart truly desired. I’m to desire God, because God is what my heart truly desires—I just don’t see that so clearly all the time. I think it’s ministry, or marriage, or money, that I desire. It’s not; it’s God. He is my reward. The rest of the things He may happen to bless me with in this life are just toppings on the sundae, to quote a beloved former professor, Mrs. Sawyer (:)).

“Do not be afraid … . I am … your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

As I stared up at the sky, fingers whisking away remaining tears from my face, I answered, ”Yes, Lord, I believe.” It may be a proclamation I will have to make again and again, in times when I am tempted to believe anything but the truth: that He is not good, that He does not have good in store for me, that He is not worthy of my worship, and that I want other things more than I want Him. And maybe it will take another glimpse at the sky on a cold, clear night to be reminded that the One who made the stars also made me, and He is good. He has good in store for me. He is worthy of my worship. And He is the One that I want more than anything or anyone else.

How can you honestly answer the Lord’s question:

“Do you believe?”

Not sure? Try looking up, and maybe you’ll find your answer.

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