Asking for Forgiveness

 

 

whitedandelion4.jpeg

There’s a big difference between “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me”.

“I’m sorry” communicates sympathy, regret, but no true remorse. “Please forgive me” lays bare the heart and conveys humility. It shows that you understand the wrong you have done and desire to make it right. To ask for forgiveness is to see a need for it. To express pity or regret is to deny your part in the problem. It is one thousand times harder to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me” than it is to say, “I’m sorry”.

When you’ve done something wrong, ask for forgiveness, that it might be given. Be honest and real. Avoid “but you’s”. Your responsibility is to deal with your own sin, not others’. Excuses kill a true apology and fertilize, pamper and cater to ugly pride, which would rear its head whenever you admit your own wrongdoing. Bite your tongue and die to yourself. Would you pet and harbor the very thing your Savior bled for? Even if the other person owes you an apology and refuses to give it, you can do your part and ask for nothing in return. This is what Christ would have us do.

Pity and sympathy, understanding and regret, have their places. But when true repentance is needed and geniune remorse required, then give it freely, without holding back. Let go of yourself and your vanity. Kill your conceit. Like a drug we are addicted to our arrogance; we don’t know how to function without it, feel pained when we deny it to ourselves, and honestly, blindly, believe that we are better off sick with it. And as soon as we throw away the needles and deny ourselves the substance, we feel pained. We do not ask for attention and prestige, and our bodies scream. We let someone else’s best interest go before our own, and suffer for it, and it hurts like a dagger. Without asking for recognition, we do what no one else wants to do and do it with no one seeing, and our minds and hearts and souls screech and flail with the misery of it.

And then slowly, ever so miserably slowly, we cease our addiction. We no longer feel the need to be prominent, first, the most important. We begin to see others interests as more important than our own. We submit to God without question. Our raging souls grow calm. Our screeching feelings quiet and our absurd minds still in the presence of One who is truly worth our adoration. And, in place of the hollow, empty, horrid, shallow high we received from filling our own sensitivities and pleasures, comes a deep, rich, abiding joy. It flows like a beautiful river through our hearts, and we glow with the peace and serenity and happiness of it. Walking hand in hand with the Lord, the mad, red rush of pride and self-preoccupation seem hideous and hollow…and we wonder how we could ever have found it comfortable and better. Better? Than this? Never.

Take every chance you can to kill your pride. Ask for true forgiveness and let go of your own interests. And when you do, go to the Lord for comfort. Hold His hand and be still in the presence of your Father who loves you so much. And know the eternal satisfaction of His pleasure.

 

 

Who am I?

 shebythesea.jpeg
   
Who am I?  What will I do?  Who will I become?
      
Every teenager goes through this.  An identity crisis.  When you were little, it didn’t matter.  You could kick a soccer ball, so you were an athlete.  You could draw a picture of your mom that looked remotely human, so you were an artist.  You enjoyed singing at the top of your lungs in the bathtub, so you were musical.  You talked a mile a minute, so you were bright.  Life was easy and the future was as big as the blue sky, and as bright as a twinkling little star.
    
And now, all of a sudden, everything is crucially important.
     
You suddenly learn that there are lots of other kids out there who can kick a soccer ball, so maybe (just maybe) you won’t be a famous athlete after all.  And your drawings, well, maybe you aren’t as passionate about art as you once thought you were.  And maybe your singing sounds pretty much like everybody else’s.  And your grades are hardly those of the genius you once thought you were.
    
And suddenly, it hits you.
      
You’re growing up.  The talents you took for granted when you were little aren’t all that spectacular after all.  At least they’re not as easy to pursue as you once thought.  Maybe you don’t even care about them that much.
      
And suddenly, for the first time, it actually matters.
     
It matters because you’re growing up, and your future is at stake.
   
Suddenly, you don’t fit in to that perfect little “niche” anymore.  Instead of fitting in everywhere, you don’t fit in anywhere.  Your personality and unique abilities can’t be boxed and shelved.  And you start to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
     
You’re older now, and your identity actually matters.  Like a painter who, when learning, could dabble with colors, techniques, canvases, brushes and styles.  But now the experimental phase is over, and he needs to settle down and begin his career as an artist, firm in his style and ideas of art.  In the same way, we used to be able to mess around with various ideas and career paths, but now we need to buckle down and decide.  College is around the corner.
       
As a matter of fact, most kids enter college still not knowing what they want to do with their lives, still unsure of their identity.  Some even graduate college still confused.
So what is your identity?  Who are you, and what will you do with your life?
      
When you were a child, if someone asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” it was always with the clear understanding that the answer was almost certainly temporary.  And of course we shot for the moon, aspiring to such practical careers as astronauts, NFL linebackers, actressess, heavyweight champions, princesses, Presidents of the United States, and, oh, maybe a famous singer or something if nothing else works out.
      
Now, people ask us from time to time, with a serious expression “what we plan to do”.  Then we grow weak-kneed and awkward, swallow a few times, and mutter something about not being sure, considering options, attending college, possibly [insert first practical, boring job that we can think of].
         
After all, if we said what we really wanted to be, people would think we were pretty full of ourselves, wouldn’t they?
      
But deep inside, we have no clue who we are.  We have only a vague idea of who we want to become, and most people would probably laugh at it.  We may have big dreams, but most people would laugh at those, too.
            
Sometimes, the things we like and the lifestyles we appreciate don’t make sense to others who perceive our personalities differently.
        
I want to go out on a limb here and use a pretty secular phrase that I think has a lot of truth in it.  Here we go.
    
Be yourself.
   
Better still, be your sanctified self.  Express your God-given personality and interests, just so long as they are not self-centered or sinful.  Don’t be afraid to live your life in living colors, rather than restricting yourself to black-and-white because that’s what others expect of you.  Don’t worry about other’s opinions.  That’s pride, anyway.
       
Do you struggle with juggling the things you enjoy and worrying about what others think of you?  Well, don’t.
      
Do people call you a tomboy?  But you really want to wear a pink dress?  Go ahead.  And paint your fingernails pink, too, for good measure, if you feel like it.
    
You’re a girly girl but you want to try soccer?  That’s OK!  You’re free to try, to experiment, to be, to learn, to grow, to broaden your horizons.  You may have a real talent for it, you may not.  But you won’t know until you try.
       
Because there’s no such thing as a stereotypical person.  You are not a stereotype.  You are a unique individual created by God.  And no one can tell you that you’re weird, different, or strange.  Because individuality is a good thing, so long as you live within God’s boundaries for your life.
       
So confidently be your sanctified self, growing in the likeness of Jesus day by day, and don’t worry about other’s opinions.
     
And as for your identity?
    
Christian teens, here is your identity.
    
You are a child of God.
    
You can be firm and secure in the knowledge that you are a child of God, that He loves you, that He is leading you and conforming you to the image of His Son, day by day, moment by moment.
     
That is your identity.  That is who you are.
    
Your future may be a mystery.  But if you are living in God’s will, you can strive to ensure that it glorify Him.
     
So express your personality.  Continue to experiment with various interests and careers.  Don’t let yourself become a follower.  Be a leader, an example of Christ-like living.  Shine the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do this or “shouldn’t” do that.  If it is within God’s will, than do it.  Get outside of yourself and outside of your comfort zone and serve God where it counts.  Are you passionate about abortion?  Volunteer at your local pregnancy counseling center, partcipate in walks for life, speak out in your church and community.  And don’t let anyone tell you that that’s weird.  Let your science class know that you believe in creation.  Talk about your Savior openly with your friends.  And don’t be afraid…God says that He did not give you a spirit of fear, but of courage.  So be courageous and strong because He is enabling you.
       
Do you want to change this world for Christ?
    
Then go for it.
     
And most importantly of all, pray.  This is a very crucial time in your life.  So ask for God’s guidance, protection and wisdom as you make decisions that will affect the rest of your life.  Pray without ceasing.
       
Remember, you have one life.  One chance.  One opportunity to glorify God.
     
Don’t let yourself be intimidated by a frowning society and group of peers.  Grab your life with both hands and use it as an opportunity to glorify your Savior.
       
Remember, you are not your own, you are bought with a price.  Ask others for godly counsel and wisdom, don’t become indepedent from your brothers and sisters in Christ.  You need them.  Submit to your parent’s counsel and guidance, they have been through the teenage years and know what it’s like.  Be humble.  Look for godly friends who will influence you in a good way.  Read your Bible incessantly, and pray constantly.  Attend church, it is impossible to grow outside of it.  That is the way God designed things.  You need the training and accountability of the local body.  You are not an army of one.  Remember to help others, get outside of yourself and reach out to others.  Don’t obsess about all these difficult decisions: as you keep doing the right thing and serving others, God will make the future clear for you.  Make a difference.  Speak out.  Live your faith, walk your talk.  Make a difference, make a change.  Be bold in sharing your faith.  Have a voice.  Don’t go with the flow, sometimes you have to go upstream.  Don’t go through life without making an impact.  Have compassion, love, kindness.  Be bold and strong.  Be brave.  Don’t be intimidated, when your words are God’s words, scream them from the housetops.  Remember to be gracious and loving always.  Inspire others to stand up with you.  Be the change you want to see in this world.
      
Because alone, we are nothing.  But with God, all things are possible.
      
Remember: this is life.  So live it.  And live it loud.
     
Live for an audience of One.
       

Part 2: A Girl’s Response to Chivalry

chivalry.jpg

Your hands are covered with flour, and there’s a spot of it on your nose (though you don’t know it!). On the plate in your hands lies a slice of homemade bread, fresh from the oven. Thick and warm, smeared with creamy butter, drizzled with rich honey. You worked hard to make this golden loaf; kneading, mixing, baking until your arms were sore and the kitchen quite a mess. Then you let it rise while you cleaned up and washed the mountains of dishes. And now your bread is ready, and it was so worth the work! A perfect loaf…golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the center. You breathe deeply and then smile. You can’t wait to see his face.

Because this slice of bread isn’t for you. It’s a surprise for your hardworking papa, who has been working outside all day. You can’t wait to see his face when you show him your treat! Carefully, you balance the plate and a tall glass filled with cool, frothy milk on a tray, and head outdoors to meet your father.

“Dad!” you call. You can’t contain your pleasure, and beam with happiness when he turns to face you. He wipes his sweaty, suntanned face with the back of his arm and smiles to see his daughter coming.

“Look what I made for you!” you say eagerly, “Your favorite, Papa…homemade bread with butter and honey. I worked all morning to make it. Do you like it?” You couldn’t smile wider or sweeter if you tried.

But your father’s face quickly darkens, his expression turning angry and offended. “Well thanks,” he says with biting sarcasm, “But just for future reference, I can make my own food, you know.”

Your smile vanishes. “Wha…what do you mean?” you stammer, miserably.

“I find it a little insulting that my daughter doesn’t think me able to cook,” he retorts, “I’m not helpless.”

“I-I know that, Daddy…” you say, feeling heartbroken, “I know you can cook well. In fact, you can cook some things much better than me. I only meant to show you that I care about you, and I…appreciate you.”

“Well thanks,” he replies stiffly. You hesitate, then set the tray on the ground by your father. Turning on your heel, you run back into the house…

I very much doubt that your father would ever do something like this. Instead, he would smile, give you a big daddy bear-hug and compliment you on how amazing the bread was…even if you put in a bit too much salt! He’d see the kindness displayed in your action, and appreciate the sweet intentions behind it, as he should.

We all see the wrong way the father in the above, fictional illustration acted. We see pride and ingratitude in his words, and we know how much it would hurt to have our good intentions rebuffed so rudely.

By making your father something special, you aren’t implying that he can’t make it himself. You’re just showing him that you love him. By helping your mom wash the dishes, you aren’t saying she does a bad job. You just want to show her that you appreciate all the work she does and would like to help make her load lighter. When you give your friend a sweet gift, you generally aren’t trying to tell her that you think she can’t afford it! It’s just a way of showing her how much she means to you.

So why do we girls treat men and boys with disdain when they show us chivalry?

When a guy opens a door for you, he isn’t implying that you can’t open it for yourself. He is showing deference, respect, and honor for you. A man following this passage is trying to communicate that he honors and cherishes you. This is true chivalry.

On average, women are the weaker vessels, physically and emotionally. But you may be an Olympic gold medalist; a woman athlete stronger and more capable than the average man. You may have a black belt in karate. You may be Miss Annie Oakley herself. That has nothing to do with it. As a woman, men are to show you respect and honor…they are to cherish and esteem you. And so, whether you could beat him in arm wrestling or not, the godly man opens the door for you. He offers you his jacket when its cold or gives you his chair when the room is crowded. He does it because he wants to show you respect and honor.

To accept chivalrous acts is not, as feminism preaches, to degrade yourself or to admit weakness. In countries where women truly are disgraced and degraded, men are never chivalrous. They are bullies, taking advantage of weakness to accomplish their own ends and surpress their wives and daughters. In countries and eras where women are esteemed as God would have them be, we see chivalry, respect and deference, because in such times the female gender is valued and honored.

Girls, don’t allow pride to get in the way of letting guys fulfill their Biblical duty! Allow yourself to be respected and honored. Women in our culture don’t get enough veneration. Under the mask of freedom we bind ourselves to the status of sexual toys by dressing shamelessly and acting with brazen immodesty. We are lowering our own status in this fashion and men see that and respond to it by treating us with less respect.

So when a guy comes along who does those little things that show honor, we sabotage our own end by treating him like the enemy. Men who could care less about our comfort, who lust after us and think of us as little more than objects…they are the ones to avoid. And the truth is, every woman, deep inside her heart, dreams of marrying a gentleman who honors and cherishes her and would put himself in harm’s way to protect her or ensure her comfort.

Our responsibility is to encourage that gentlemanliness in our friends and brothers. Not by chiding or goading or demanding, but just by taking those little opportunities to accept and appreciate chivalry. That speaks to a guy’s heart far more than nagging!

So your little brother offers to lift a heavy box for you? This may annoy you at first. After all, you are stronger than him. Who exactly does he think he is? But stop; this really is just pride speaking. Think of the future, when the women in his life will depend on him. And, for his sake and theirs, accept graciously. “Thank you,” you can say with a genuine smile, “You’re getting so strong and manly! I really appreciate your help.” He’ll probably beam from ear to ear as he hauls away your load; and stand just a little taller than before.

Maybe your guy friend offers to get you a snack during an activity at youth group. Consider pushing down that first impulse to say, “Oh, it’s OK, I can get it!” Of course you can…but let him do it. Allow him to serve you.

At the grocery store, when a guy holds open a door for you, no matter how many piercings or tattoos he’s got appreciate him for the true gentlemanliness he is showing and say a heartfelt thank you.

Show gratitude and appreciation for the little acts of chivalry that pop up around you. They will probably start to become more frequent.

One last note: at this point you may be asking, “But what about me? Aren’t I supposed to serve as well?” Yes, we are, and I think this is a point worth mentioning. Just because guys are supposed to show women respect and honor doesn’t negate our duty as Christians to serve one another. We are still to self-sacrificially put others before ourselves, and take opportunities to give of ourselves for others.

When we follow Christ and His design for the genders, we will definitely reap the rewards in our lives, our relationships, our marriages, our homes and our hearts. After all…this is how it’s supposed to be.

Part 3: Self-Serving Chivalry (A Warning to Christian Guys)

Part 1: True Chivalry

Part 1: True Chivalry

 chivalry.jpg

“Girls are stupid. Chivalry? Why…what kindness are women expected to do for men?”

I saw this phrase on an icon. The picture accompanying those words showed a doodle of a girl with a dress and braids, looking wide-eyed and clueless with question marks by her head. Whatever sort of guy made it was obviously bitter and angry. But then, in all honesty, is his attitude uncommon? Tragically enough, it seems to be the norm.

Our culture is one of give and take. “What can you do for me?” is asked before “What can I do for you?” It makes sense that, with this attitude so prevalent, guys would balk at the idea of chivalry. Some might be angered. “Why should I? What is she giving to me?” Others might be confused. “Women spend their time trying to prove how tough and independent they are. Wouldn’t it be degrading to open a door for the modern liberated woman?”

Guys, let me be honest. Our culture, and particularly our entertainment industry, displays women as tough, karate-kicking, crime-fighting machines that men kill and fight as ruthlessly as they do other men, and songs that degrade females to “sexual object” status. A girl’s pride may cause her to be irritated when you (for example) open a door for her, because she may feel that it implies that you think her weak or helpless. But no woman, in her heart of hearts, is against behind respected, honored, valued, and cherished. Maybe her pride and culture’s influence twist her understanding of the kindness you are trying to show, but deep in her heart, every girl wants to be treated as the priceless princess God created her to be. Make it clear to her in your actions and words that this is all you want: to treat her like she is honorable because that is how you see her. Whether she is five or eighty-five she will appreciate that. (Our next section is on a girl’s response to chivalry; guys should check that out to see what gentlemanliness looks like from a female perspective.)

So what are some practical ways you can show chivalry? Here’s a list of ten ideas. 

  1. When it’s cold, give her your jacket. What an awesome way to give of yourself! I don’t know many (if any) girls that would take issue with this one.
  2. When she’s standing, offer to get her a chair. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just ask, “Hey, would you rather sit? I can get you a chair.” She’ll probably say no, maybe because she’s concerned about troubling you. But just asking will make her feel honored.
  3. At a party or gathering, ask if you can get her something to eat or drink. The more casual you are about offering your service, the more comfortable she will feel. Remember; if you really desire to serve the women in your life, never make chivalry seem like a big “all about me, you may kiss my hand” kind of thing. You don’t want to make yourself the knight in shining armor, but the servant who puts others before himself and doesn’t ask for recognition. Remember what Jesus said; “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” How much more should we desire to give of ourselves for others.
  4. Help her out when she’s in trouble. You may think this is a no-brainer, but open your eyes and look for opportunities to help out the women around you. Maybe an elderly lady forgot her Bible in her car; offer to get it for her. Your mom could use some help carrying in the groceries; go without being asked. One of your female friends looses her car keys at youth group; help her out in looking for them. Actions like this speak louder than words. I’ll never forget the time a couple of my guy friends self-sacrificially helped me out of a tough situation. It meant a lot to me and showed me their true hearts more than anything else could have.
  5. When she’s upset, listen. Sometimes guys feel afraid to talk to girls when they are going through hard times; not sure that they will know what to say. But don’t worry about that. Just listen. Let her talk, let her cry, and be sympathetic and understanding. If she needs advice, give it, but sometimes the best thing you can do is be still and listen with warmth and attentiveness, like Job’s friends when they simply sat with their mourning companion in empathetic silence.
  6. Open the door for her. Perhaps the most pure and basic form of chivalry, but it endures as a simple way to show respect and a desire to be helpful.
  7. Encourage her. In this era, girls often feel pressured to compare themselves to the airbrushed models in magazines or the stylized faces on the big screen. Pop culture bombards us with the message that being beautiful and sexy will get us everything we want. And then we look at the standard of “perfection” we are held up to and feel cheap, ugly, and worthless. The guys in our lives play a huge part in instilling self-worth and a feeling of confidence and beauty in our hearts! Maybe you don’t realize how much girls hang on every action of yours, when they look to you so much for approval? One word of encouragement can make her spirit soar, whereas one flippant remark or one careless action (ignoring her for another girl or talking about other beautiful girls around her) can completely devastate her. That doesn’t mean you have to tell her she is beautiful and sweet or anything. But if she does something kind and you see it, tell her so. Here’s an example: “Hey, I saw how you treated that girl who was sitting all by herself. You were really kind to her. I could really see Jesus shine through you.” Or, “Hey, I just wanted to thank you for how cheerfully you served at the youth group car wash this weekend. You didn’t ask for anything; you just cheerfully did whatever no one else wanted to do. I could really see the beauty of Christ’s love in you.” Or, “You know, I really appreciate how you dress so cute and yet so modestly…it’s really cool. You are a pretty girl but you don’t flaunt it. I really appreciate that and I want you to know I think you are beautiful.” Don’t compare her to others and don’t flatter her…just be honest and real and encouraging. Take it from me: it could mean the world to her.
  8. Carry stuff. Yeah, that one is pretty self-explanatory. She may be the star on the softball team, but two extra arms never hurt anyone. Offer to help her out.
  9. Defend her to others. When you hear people trash-talking a girl or woman…whether you know her or not…stand up for her honor. She may never know that you do, but your Father in Heaven will. Whether a group of girls are spreading rumors or a bunch of guys are making inappropriate comments, even when it’s tough a true gentleman will defend the lady being discussed.
  10. Treat her like a sister in everything. Don’t flirt with a girl for the attention; the effect can be devastating. Honor her and respect her and treat her like a sister. Be her friend but don’t give her the wrong impression.

When you treat the women in your family, school, church, general aquaintance and happenstance meeting with respect and veneration, you are well on your way to becoming the man God calls you to be. A man who, like our Lord, would give of Himself for others…remembering how He made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, for sinners like you and I.

A great resource for guys is The Rebelution series on Chivalry, written by two Christian teenage boys. Click here to read Part 1 of the five-part series (links for the other four parts are on this page).

Part 2: A Girl’s Response to Chivalry

Part 3: A Warning to Christian Guys

Check back soon for the next part of this series!

How Much He Loves You

The Lifehouse Skit

Happy Valentine’s Day, from Jesus.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

karenwhimseyvalentinemain.png

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
~Love, Sisters Keepers
 

Be My Valentine

valentine.jpgThis is February 14th…Valentine’s Day.  For some girls and women, it’s an exciting occasion to enjoy the love of their special guy.  But for single women who want to be attached, it can instead be a painful reminder of what they don’t have.
    
Most young girls dream about getting married.  Oftentimes, a bride will have definite ideas about her wedding ceremony, that were formulated years before she even met her fiance.  Maybe we’re wired that way.
    
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.  But nevertheless, marriage is a fascinating topic to girls and young ladies, even from very early on in their lives.
     
Many successful career woman with prodigious degrees and levels of learning declare themselves completely willing to give it all up if they could only find “the right guy”.  Deep in our hearts, there is a strange yearning in all of us for true love and a happy marital state.  I truly believe that even women who try to supress that feeling, have it deep inside, and someone with the love and skill required can and will draw it out.
        
Do you remember Ava Gardner?  Maybe you’ve seen her in one of her numerous films, like Showboat.  She began acting in the early 1940’s and soon gained a reputation as being among the most beautiful actresses in show business, as well as one of the most talented.  She had it all, right?
         
Here is a quote from Ava which was added in an article, dated January 27, 1990, in the Arizona Republic, which was written about her following her death.
            
“I act for money, no other reason.  Since I made my first picture in 1941, I haven’t done a thing worthwhile.  I have never enjoyed making films, and I don’t like being a so-called film star.  I haven’t the emotional make-up for it, nor the love of exhibitionism.  I am much too shy.  [I’d rather find] one good man I could love and marry and cook for and make a home for, who would stick around for the rest of my life.  I never found him.  If I had, I would have traded my career in a minute.”
             
This quote breaks my heart.  Though Ava Gardner is listed as one of the American Film Institute’s greatest stars of all time, it is obvious that she was never really happy.  Her three failed marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra, her abortion; these things must have plagued her.  We would think that someone like Ava Gardner would have it all…fame, beauty, talent, prestige.  But her own words are a testimony to her inner unhappiness.
         
But the truth is, not even our deepest longings can truly satisfy us apart from Christ, and God can give us peace no matter our circumstances.
           
Oftentimes, we can follow the extreme of idolizing marriage and love.  I think this especially happens among Christian young women.  We truly feel that God’s calling in our lives is marriage, and so often focus all our hopes and energies on that one point.  This, too, is erroneous.
         
Only when we find our satisfaction in Christ will we find ourselves truly contented, regardless of our circumstances.
       
But sometimes we become so obsessed with the gifts of our good God (such as marriage) that forget the Giver.  This is exactly what we should not do.  Those very gifts should point us to the Lord, causing us to give Him more glory, rather than distracting us from Him, His goodness, and His benevolence.  We should never think God a selfish ogre, good things like wealth, beauty, love, friendship, etc. are His gifts to us.  He provides them!  All He asks is that we keep things in perspective.
      
God is not trying to steal our joy, He gives us every good thing we possess.  Remember the famous words of James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  He desires to give us good things, for He is the good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children, and He loves us.
      
A woman once told me a story about her engagement to her beloved.  He secured the promise with a beautiful diamond ring.  This young woman had never owned such a valuable, beautiful thing, and grew to cherish the small ring to such a point that she almost idolized it.  In her zeal for the gift, she even neglected the giver.  Whereas the diamond ring was meant to remind her of the love and devotion of her suitor, she focused on the sparkling beauty of her jewel.  Whereas the ring was meant to increase her love for him, it distracted her.
       
This is what happens when we allow God’s gifts to divert our attention from His goodness and mercy, and often leads to the sad conclusion that God is trying to spoil and wreck our happiness when He demands that we give Him the glory He deserves, and focus on Him, rather than the things He has given us.
      
Dear sisters who are married, engaged or dating, enjoy this Valentine’s Day with all your heart, and the affection of a man whose love for you mirrors Christ’s. You are truly experiencing one of God’s richest gifts.  But remember, always remember, to focus your eyes on Jesus.  In Him alone will you find true satisfaction.  Even when your beloved fails you, He will not.  He is faithful, steadfast, true, the picture of love 1 Corinthians 13 was painted from, the promise  of fidelity in Hebrews 13:8 that will never be broken.  Your Father adores you as His perfect princess, and sees you as truly beautiful.
         
And to those who are still “waiting”…don’t wait any longer.  You are deeply loved by the only One who can satisfy your heart’s deepest longings.  Do not focus your attention on the gift of matrimony, but on the Giver.  Go about His business, make your life profitable for His glory and His people’s good.  And if your prince should someday come, he will not find you idle, but deeply content and richly employed in God’s service.  A truly godly man will find that more beautiful than the fairest face.  And you will find far greater happiness as a married woman if you have already learned to find your true source of inner peace in Christ alone.
      
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death or life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39