Friday, February 26, 2010
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
“…drunk with the wine of the world we forget thee.”
In this passage, God is speaking to Jeremiah. He is the mouthpiece, addressing the people of Jerusalem concerning their adulteress ways against God. Two things in particular obviously hurt God deeply. First, there is the overt turning away from God as the fountain of living water. The second (as if the first was not bad enough) is that they hewn for themselves cisterns with holes in them to hold water. Now let me explain. To hewn is to hold fast, stick, or cleave to something. A cistern is also known as a receptacle for holding water or other liquid, especially a tank for catching and storing rainwater. Instead of cleaving to a Well of Life that never runs dry, they decide to catch rain water in a broken vessel. Rain water that can only be given by God in the first place. No matter how many pots they set out, if the Fountain of Living Water withholds the rain, there is no water to gather anyway.
How often are we like the people of Jerusalem? Turing away from God and thinking all the while that we have the power to create for ourselves opportunities that were only meant to be created by God. It is truly an evil thing when we drink from the fountains of the world, forgetting God, and losing the vitality of life He intended for us.
If you suffer from weariness and worry, ailments and sickness, poverty and powerlessness, could it be that the intoxication of this world has choked out the omnipotence of God working in your life?
As we conclude black history month, and consider those evils that have beset us from a life with God, a life of peace, a life of Living Water, let us think about this most profound verse of the Black National Anthem: Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.
Monday, February 1, 2010
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; she will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you." Proverbs 4:7-9
It really doesn't matter if you attended a PWI (Predominately White Institution) or a HBCU (Historically Black College & University). Maybe you didn't go to college at all. Although I am a major supporter and proud graduate of two HBCU's, I accept that the education was set apart from the experience. My mother brags to her friends and family, "I may have never attended a black college, but I had the experience; that I can promise you." What is the experience you ask? The experience is simply this, Proverbs 4:7-9. Wisdom is the principal thing. My education gave me a degree, an opportunity to learn, and a chance to advance my career. My experience, gave me understanding, and yes... wisdom.
The history and purpose of a black college is one all people can experience. If you visit the campus of Clark Atlanta, Talladega, Lincoln or Tuscaloosa, you can easily get the feeling of rich history and wisdom. The chipped statues, the old smell of the library, and the battered paintings all demonstrate the black experience like no other. These institutions are historic physically. Under funded, under ranked, under supported, and misunderstood. Some even say, "There is no longer a purpose for such a place. Modernity says so." But the truth is, if your history is shut up, shut down, left behind, so is your wisdom.
Black people have been piecing together a history for the last 100+ years. Therefore we have to maintain purpose in such places as black colleges. They don't just tell our history. The experience of a Fisk art gallery or a Howard special collections reminds us of the real truths of black history. Unfortunately, many of our children do not know about and have no interest in. And if we don't want to go back to our history, I suggest we take time to remember and experience; at least by visiting our nearest HBCU.
What would happen if one day you picked up a sack, threw it on your back, and said, "I am going there, and no one or nothing can stop me." Then along the way, after conversing with others, getting new garments, and new ideas, you totally forgot where you were headed. Then you think to yourself, "I know, I will just go in a different direction. There I will go, no one or nothing will stop me." But again, you get carried away with encountering new adventures, new concepts, new ways, and you are forced to make that grueling decision again, because you lose your way. You say, "I forgot my destination again, I suppose I will start in this direction this time." Once again you are convinced, persuaded by the world to look through a more colorful lens than perhaps you own; yet one last time, you find yourself on a strange and familiar path. Headed to the same place, which is the wrong way. You determine, "This time, I will write down as best I can remember where I have been, even if I have to go back a little to ask. That way, I will not repeat mistakes. Like never before, I want to reach that destination, no matter how many new things I encounter. This time, I will get there. This time I will remember."
History is not something we can afford to forget. We have to remember it. Black colleges will be waiting to deliver understanding to my nieces, nephews and some day children of Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Caucasian, Native American and African American descent. Whether it be a visit, an education, or their children's education. When they walk the pathways of Spelman and hills of Hampton, they will remember that part of them that was enslaved, broken, chained, imprisoned, and set free. The stigma's still exist. The reality of racism still exist. We all have to face it. Go visit the HBCU nearest to you this month. It helps us all to reflect on who we are, so we can become better. That is what our ancestors wanted for us. That is what God wants for us.
When faced with responses to your single life consider the following:
1. “You have to be the right person to meet the right person.”
This is a variation on the “Jesus is all you need,” “You must be content in God alone” message. It sounds good and wise, but it presumes that God withholds a spouse for someone based on spiritual “rightness,” painting an inaccurate picture of God and his plans for his people. It also represents the works-righteousness version of achieving marriage, like it’s some sort of bonus incentive program for the super-sanctified. It is God’s Will that we be sanctified, but that is not a yardstick by which he measures our marriage readiness.
2. “It’s better to be single than to wish you were.”
And its variation “Marriage is hard”
Does this make sense? Why long for singleness when you are married? If singleness was so great, why did you get married in the first place? And what makes the person with this comment assume they can handle pressures but you can’t. Life is hard. So is work, so is having a baby, so is parenting, so is being alone. There are trade-offs in every station of life--challenges and benefits. No one should be discouraged from marriage or encouraged to put it on hold indefinitely just because it’s hard! Most things worth having require hard work.
3. “As soon as you stop looking you’ll find the right person.”
The variation on the contentment idea rewrites Proverbs 18:22 to say, “He sho stumbles upon a wife… obtains favor from the LORD.” Finding involves looking for something in particular, time limitations. The truth is that most of us are always looking—consciously or not—until we find a spouce. While some confidently believe that God is the factor in causing marriage to occur, it does not mean that God is the only factor. We must search. There’s an underlying barb to this saying that anyone who is unhappyily single must have been on a rampage or hunt until this point. If you’re single with no prospect in sight, you have cause for concern. Voicing that concern in no way reflects on you as a person or implies that you’re doing something wrong or that God must want you to stop so he can show you he is God. Scripture clearly demonstrates that God loves to bless godly spouse hunts. (See, for example, the story of Abraham, Issac, and Rebekah in Genesis 24.) He is not waiting for you to end your search but instead uses your looking to get you a mate—just as he uses your hunger to get you to eat and your thirst to get you drink.
4. “You’ll get married in God’s perfect time, so just relax!”
Here’s that “wait on the Lord” idea again. So if God knows the future, why pray? Since God knows where I’ll work, why look for a job? We must stop thinking that because God knows the end result, we can rely on him to work out everything in between. Of course he is able to do that. But we were not created to just sit back and retire from life as he works out the details. There is nothing wrong with finding comfort in the knowledge that God is sovereign and sitting on this throne, at work in our lives. But we cannot use good theology as an excuse to get out of the responsibilities we must take secure our own futures—whether it means finding a job, a house, or a husband.
5. “It’s God’s will that you are single right now.”
In order to comfort (or condone) those who find themselves in protracted singleness, church leaders will often say something to the effect that God has ordained them to be single at this point in their lives—maybe they’ll marry later and maybe they won’t. Telling an entire group of singles that God has mandated or decreed their singleness at that point in time can have the dangerous effect of justifying bad behavior. This goes back to misunderstanding God’s will and sovereignty and the need to think biblically rather than culturally.
6. “Dating is FUN!”
Not hardly! Dating may have been fun in high school and early college. But once you start hitting your mid-to late twenties, dating loses its luster. As Carrie mused on Sex and the City, “When did dating go from being fun to being scary?” If dating is so much fun, why do so few singles actually date (one on one, not in groups), especially as the years go on? The truth is that dating is not only not fun, it’s unfair to women.
Marriage Enemy #1: We Got To Fight the Powers That Be!
I wrote this April 26, 2006, a year before I met my husband. These things I wrote, I still feel about singleness. So, this goes out to all the most fabulous women I know out there. Around the time I wrote this, a friend challenged me publicly saying “Caarne hates being single. She thinks it’s the worse thing in the world.” I quickly corrected her by saying, “That is not true. I live a very fabulous life. I just don’t intend on spending it alone. Remember this day, because this time next year, you will be sitting around this single table, and I declare… I won’t!” Enjoy and happy Love Month and Black History Month!
~In Christ, Caarne White
"If singleness is a gift, what is the return policy?"
I know we all have busy lives and plenty of things to keep us moving, like work, school, children or even hobbies. We all have spiritual lives to maintain, keeping a healthy relationship with Christ. Although this is true, I am sure the question has popped into your head from time to time, in the midst of all your going and doing, "Will I ever be married or find a husband?" Even if you are dating someone.
This entire notion perplexes me deeply, because the reality is we are getting older, and virtually living this adult life without biblical companionship. I try to keep quiet about it, as I'm sure you do. It is not politically, socially and unfortunately neither is it Christian-like to mention the woes of singe life as a woman. We are encouraged to believe that a man will drop from the sky and light will hit our eyes perfectly and he will whisk us off into the sunset. And that will be the answer to this 10 to 15 year drought of adulthood without biblically confirmed God-fearing companionship.
It is sad to say that the world’s thoughts and culture coincide with much of contemporary Christian thoughts and culture concerning ideas on marriage. There is this false sense that singleness is a tremendous gift from God and those that are not content with this status are in essence equally discontent with God. I beg to offer this is far from the truth and simply not so. If most were honest, they would say, "if singleness is a gift, what is the return policy?" Of course, it is good to make light, but there is no light in living years and years alone, while men make no moves toward commitment and prolong their lives of adolescence. Especially women like you, so deserving and so faithful. Trying to do the things your families always admonished you to do. Live a good life. Get education. Own your own home. Believe in yourself. Achieve your goals and pursue your calling. But no one thought enough to say the most innate and earnest desire: oh yeah, be wed, have children, grow a family.
Jesus spoke on marriage and the gift of singleness in Matthew 19. He made it clear that life-long celibacy/singleness was for only a select few. It is quite biblical and Christ like to pursue marriage to give of your natural gifts as a woman. It is not something that should be shunned or suppressed, but a goal ordained by God to fill the gaping hole in our lives. It is commanded of us to be fruitful and multiply. I am sure some of you must be thinking, "Well I can be complete in God, and shame on you to be a minister and not feel complete without a mate!" Well, maybe you don't feel that harsh, but something of the sort. But in my defense I have a fully thriving daily walk with God and I know Christ very well and seek him daily. It is not a matter of him being enough, but a matter of life more fulfilled when shared by another.
This has been heavy on my heart, and after reading a book entitled "Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking The Gift of Singleness" so much of my anguish was released. I encourage you all to get it. (ASAP) Please pass this along to other friends to encourage them. Also, see the next blog for excerpts from the book. It will help you when faced with questions or comments concerning this season in your life.
I love you dearly and believe God is moving as he always has and always will. Email me with your thoughts and concerns on the issue. Be joyful!