Tonight, after a long and once again exhausting day at work, I came home, got my Real Simple out of the mailbox, stepped into my nice clean apartment, (thank you snow day!), and got dinner simmering on the stove. Then I finished the laundry, lit my Woodwick candles, made some coffee, and plopped on the couch with the computer, with the full intention of turning off my mind and "escaping" the worries of the day. I let out a huge sigh of relief and propped up my feet. After surfing around on my favorite blogs for a few minutes, then checking to see what's happening in the world on Facebook, I started to feel an unsettling ache that I could not ignore. A longing and desire as a matter of fact. All I could think was, "I need to read the Bible." I felt an insatiable hunger and thirst to spend time hearing from God.
It has been my prayer lately that God, my first love, would become my first instinct. No matter what, no matter when, where, or who is involved, I long and pray for every word, action, and motive to be taken to Him first. So that at the end of a long day I am drawn to go directly to the only one who can truly restore me.
The Holy Spirit has been stirring in my soul lately, overcoming my fears and insecurities with peace, softening my feisty and stubborn heart, and healing and redeeming the wounds that linger inside of me. He is powerfully moving in my marriage, and my husband and I can feel it. We are so grateful, yet we know it does not simply come from our desire for it, but instead is coming from God's pursuit of us, and our ever-growing prayers to and pursuit of Him. Oh, how he loves us! Do you feel His great and powerful love for you? Do you see how God is pursuing you too? You might shake it off as coincidence or a fluke, it might even come in the way of pain. Either way, God desires and longs for you. He knows what it will take in your individual life to draw you close and make you most like Him. He created us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. In the book, Desiring God, John Piper so beautifully writes, "Our purpose is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever." Sounds so wonderful, so simple, but oh, the distractions. As a matter of fact, my husband, who has been out of town for a few days just called. Now, he is the sweetest distraction on the planet, and the very one I walk alongside enjoying God with, but as I talked to him and my mind shifted to preparing to receive him with a warm welcome, I was reminded of how my time with God must be fought for, must be protected, must be the first priority, especially now that I share my home and life with someone else. It is when I do make him my first priority that the fruit will overflow into everything else. Even the most beautiful, wonderful, godly, and God-ordained people and things in our lives can be used to take our focus off God alone if we let them. As a matter of fact, my best friend just texted me about baby names. Oh how I love to talk about baby names. I have to smile at how God is teaching me even as I write this...
So my reaction to the holy prompting God placed in my heart tonight led me to the wonderful book of Zephaniah. If you're not careful, you'll likely miss this book in your Bible. It is tucked away in the Old Testament between Habakkuk and Haggai. These three books are all small, but truly mighty. Last night my bible study took me to Zephaniah, one of the books of prophecy that speaks about the coming judgments to come on Judah. It's actually quite somber and eye-opening, calling out the destruction that is to come on the sinners of Jerusalem because of their "corruption and spiritual blindness in continuing wickedness," as it says in the back of my bible. Yet after the judgment that is to come is proclaimed, the mood is lifted, as the future of Jerusalem and God's promises to deliver Israel are revealed.
Zephaniah 3:14-17 says, "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, 'Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.' The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Now that breathes a sweeping peace over me and fills me with intense joy. I love the thought of God delighting in me as I delight in him. I love that in his strength he is mighty to save, yet the very essence of him is the gentle and powerful love that is more than strong enough to quiet my worries, fears, and the matters that threaten to overcome me. Can you imagine God rejoicing over you with singing?! I treasure the thought.
I look forward to meditating on this verse today and in the coming days, asking God how I might reflect on its implications in my own life and praying for him to speak whatever words he might have for me. Though I know that in order to truly hear, I must listen. In order to listen I must be still, seek him first, pour over his word, and receive how he loves me. He will ask me to do difficult things, I know this for sure. Yet I know even more that his promises are true, his love is overwhelming, and his faithfulness is amazing. He comforts me and he delights in me. This is why I claim a crazy joy in my life. Certainly not because I am always happy, definitely not because I or anyone I love hasn't experienced intense pain. But because never again do I need to fear. The Lord my God is with me; and he alone is mighty to save.