Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Proverbs 31 Woman

Earlier this month, a friend of mine posted a list on my pastor’s Facebook page. It wasn’t just any list: shopping, school supplies needed or invitees to a party. No, instead of changing one’s day, this list could, in fact, change ones life. This was because she was not looking for something she could buy; she was looking for someone she could love.
In response to my friends’ predicament, her pastor, who happens to be mine as well, responded: “Make me a list, and I’ll find you your man.’” My friend “laughed it off, partly out of embarrassment, and partly because, well frankly, I gave up on my list about fifteen years ago.”
Though I had sometimes thought about making such a list, instead of giving it the time of day that it needed, I would usually think about it as I tried to reach dreamland late at night. It wasn’t until after I read Kirsty’s list that I took it seriously. So, right after lunch one Saturday afternoon, I sat down at my computer and thought about the attributes my Proverbs 31 woman should have.

1) She must love Jesus. She must challenge me in my relationship with Him and be willing to be challenged in hers.
2) She must be a pray-er. Both of us want to grow closer to each other, but if we both grow closer to God, a closer relationship between us will soon follow.
3) She must think I’m the coolest person she’s ever met and not feel bashful about it.
4) She needs to be someone who doesn’t need me, but wants me more than anything.
5) She doesn’t need to be a sports fan, but she needs to humour my interest.
6) She needs to laugh at my attempt at being funny and be my reason to smile.
7) She must be able to care for herself on her own so we can care for each other together.
8) On that note, she needs to want to be cared for, and be patient with me as I learn how.
9) She could be a giver (generous) but she needs to be a forgiver.
10) She enjoys physical contact. Not aggression, just good, long hugs, holding hands etc.
11) She needs to be open with herself i.e. be willing to give what she sees I need and be willing to receive the things I have to give.
12) She must not be a controller. Instead, she must be willing to give and take.
13) She must put my needs and the needs of our family first and help me to do the same.
14) We need to accept and slowly enjoy the differences between our families. Then we would look forward to visiting the in-laws rather than simply tolerating them.
15) Though my creative side comes out when I get excited about someone, she needs to be the creative queen. This is because . . .
16) Though monetary gifts are nice, I prefer gifts that have a lot of thought put into them.
17) She needs to enjoy music and my attempts to play it. If she can play an instrument, that’s even better!
18) Her dwelling must be clean enough to be healthy and cluttered enough to be homey, and help me to do the same.
19) She must be ambitious and passionate. This means that she has dreams and pushes the envelope to make them happen.
20) She will be a “yes, let’s try it!” kind of woman. She may show anxiety about new things, but is willing to try them anyway.
21) She has to be able to challenge me, and gently tell me when I’m wrong.
22) Though I might say this word more often, when she messes up, she has to be able to say “Sorry” and mean it.
23) She has to be good tempered, have an even keel and teach me how to react when things are not.
24) Though I may have a few ideas, I need her to show me how I can be her best man.
25) She has to know everything about and accept my past, loving me not in spite of my weaknesses, but because of them.
26) She has to be able to say “No,” even when she doesn’t want to, because she has my best interest at heart.
27) She needs to be patient, because these things need to be learned slowly.

A list like this might look kind of odd on a blog which is supposed to be about enhancing one’s relationship with God. But over the years, though they are not exact, I have learned that the desires we have in a mate are similar to the desires we have for God.
  • What are your expectations in a mate?
  • How can God meet these expectations?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From Zero to Hero

Several years ago, I was introduced to one of the simplest of silent prayers I have ever heard. When we breathe in, we were encouraged to pray “Father” and on the exhale to say, “I belong to You.” The teacher (Brennan Manning) said that seven is the ideal number of syllables in one breathing cycle. Therefore, if we decide to pray this way, we can “pray continually.” (1 Thes. 5:17)

If she was not praying this prayer, I imagine the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) was praying something very similar. She may have been praying “in You, I have all things” or “my soul rests in You alone” (Psalm 62:1) as her actions showed a sense of desperation. It was with that kind of drive that this Zero-Phoenician woman recognized that though she had nothing in herself, what she needed was available to her if she only asked for it.

However, moments after she asked, Christ criticised her harshly, calling her, a gentile who was plainly inferior to the Jews, a dog (v27). Instead of being overwhelmed with sorrow or surprise, she knew that behind this criticism was a loving and healing touch, and she was humble enough to receive the criticism so she could get what she believed would soon follow.

Therefore, in spite of Christ’s comments, she played His game and responded boldly, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (v28) Her attempts to clamber for Christ’s attention clearly show how desperate she was to receive anything that might come from Him, even the crumbs.

When I was a child at camp, I remember trying to Limbo underneath a stick without touching it. All this time, my friends, who patiently awaited their turns chanted ‘How low can you go?’ This woman had gone lower than anyone expected and Christ therefore rewarded her by granting her request. It was with her persistence, humility and quick wit that this Zero-Phoenician came trembling, and left rejoicing because her status had been permanently changed.

  • When was the last time you prayed like this?

  • What difference would it make to you if your status permanently changed?