Last weekend I was a groomswoman at my cousin’s wedding. It was a very different wedding experience for me, mostly with it being a family wedding and of course the “standing with the bros” thing. It was also the first wedding that I’ve opted out of the crazy dance floor escapades and the customary bouquet toss to single ladies.
Part of me felt old and part of me was just enjoying sitting at a table with my parents and my relatives, holding my little baby cousin and watching the antics of the younger twenty-somethings. At one point, I had Baby Elsie bouncing on my knee as the music swelled and I looked over at my mom and I mouthed “I want one!” It startled me.
I’ve never really admitted anything like that out loud (even though, technically, it was barely audible…) and it was so bizarre that it even took me off guard. What, exactly, did I want? A wedding? A baby? A dance party with all my closest friends?
The wedding continued, cake was cut, toasts were given, sparklers were lit, family parted ways. I had a two hour drive ahead of me and all I could think about was that whispered admission I had made hours earlier: I want one. It scared me, honestly.
I had saved a few podcasts for the drive home— one of them being a Tim Keller sermon a dear friend had suggested just a day earlier. I drove home, barefoot and tired in the dark Georgia moonlight, listening to that sermon with the backdrop of my wanting and wishful heart pounding along with the pavement.
The sermon convicted and compelled me in a way I haven’t felt in sometime. In it, Keller unpacks the story of the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus to find out what he lacks. He is, by all accounts, a good person. He keeps the commandments. He has done well in his life and has the wealth to show it. But Jesus doesn’t just tell him the one thing he lacks— He tells him he lacks the only thing that matters.
“Jesus smashed this man’s religious views. He came knowing he was lacking… That he needed something to make his relationship right with God. He just wasn’t sure, so he comes and asks. He approaches it with the assumption that Christianity is something you can add and something you can do. He thought he could just furnish his life out with Christianity. Jesus in turn gives an outrageous request: it’s not something you add, it explodes what you have to make way for something new. You must be completely redone. You don’t need one more rung to get over the mountain. What Jesus has smashes through the mountain and makes way for something entirely different. He is not an edition. He isn’t another book on the shelf. He something completely different altogether.”
“You obey all the commandments, do you? Let’s just start with the first one. Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Have no other gods before me. Ok then— Sell all your stuff and follow me. Is God first in your life? If so, everything and anything else is trivial. Do you have any other gods before him?”
This is where it really got me:
“I want you to be willing to live a single life, all of your life,for me. He comes to Abraham and says “I want you to take your son, your only son whom you love, and offer him as a burnt offering.” To the rich young ruler, “I want you to sell everything and follow me.” We have to surrender all our dreams. Jesus says “I want the most important thing in your life. I want the thing that, with it, you dream of a power and life without God. Until you do, we aren’t right, and it’s killing you.”
Anything that you have decided will give you a life of joy and power without God becomes a monster. It drives you. Jesus looks at the wealth and says “this is your monster. Give it to me. Put me first. Be willing to part with anything and any idea. Be willing to walk away from it all, and let me decide.” Jesus says “surrender your dreams.” It’s not the dream per se, but it’s the dream before Jesus— Your deepest desire above and without him.”
I deeply long to be married. I want a family. Heck, I just want someone to go to weddings and dance with. If you asked me what my deepest desire is, I would say just that. I want one. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks… And I finally spoke. I want that.
I don’t necessarily think The Lord is calling me to be single all my life, but I know that I am right now and I hate it. I hate it so much that I desire to be rid of it above all else. I do find myself thinking “ok God, if I could just meet someone, then I’d be happy.” Then I wouldn’t need You. Am I willing to walk away from this monster that drives me? The monster that makes me think I will be happy and finally living…without Him who is true life and joy?
I don’t know what this looks like… To really live as one satisfied and totally surrendered to whatever He has for me… To say “yes Lord, if this is what you have for me, I will not waiver…” To never look back at the “treasure” I have left to follow Him… To hand over to Him my greatest desire and ask for a new one: nothing but Himself…