On Being Hindered - Part 1
- 2010 4 Mar
We must each decide when, holding on is mere stubbornness, when holding on is mere refusal to accept what is painfully obvious. We must each wrestle with the facts at hand and decide whether it is wise to press on or wiser to turn back. Not every relationship that starts must end in marriage. In fact, most do not and should not. I realize that whatever wisdom these words may hold they are small comfort to the longing heart—but they are true.
The truth is we all want what we want when we want it and are hard pressed to accept anything that hinders us as of God. But, as our hearts are prone to wander He is also careful to redirect us. Sometimes a relationship looks so good except for … well, you know. Yes! I know! We all have had those moments of inexplicable doubt. Sometimes it all looks so good that it is the most miserable thing to find one thing that hinders. It all looks so good except for the qualities that do not fit the character you are looking for. If God is trying to hinder you, if the Lord has revealed reasons for pause—PAUSE! Be hindered!
This does not make it easier only wise. Our hearts have no attachment issues. The longing of each heart means that at the hint of shared feelings sparks may fly. It is like a readied hearth awaiting the flame. You may truly be in love but that is all it means—that you are in love. It is His way to ask of us that which we treasure, the things that are close to our hearts, that which we hold dear. He does this not because He wants to plague us but because our hearts sometimes deceive us. Our hearts sometimes cling to that which, in starker light, might be seen for what it is.
He does not because we love it but sometimes we love it for the simple reason that He requires it of us. We want what we want sometimes because we cannot have it. Or, as Rich Mullins put it, "I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want than to take what you give that I need."
Life would be easier if all we had to let go were the things we did not want, the things that held no place in our hearts. Then it would take only common sense to see that this or that relationship was not good for us—not meant to be.
I must confess, I disdained God's barriers, His hindrances to relationships and the hedges He placed there. I hated letting go of someone that seemed so wonderful, never mind those things that were there to hinder me. But I came to revel in them. In the not so distant past, I did my best to go around these hindrances; anything but simply take them as they are and dare I say—wait. Waiting has never been my strong suit and I have never been accused of excessive patience. No, I want, as we all do, what I want when I want it, or in the case of relationships—who I wanted when I wanted them.
Sometimes the desires of our hearts amount to only that—desires. They amount to unfulfilled longings that linger long enough to fester. Sometimes our plans do not work out. Sometimes the person we love does not love us in the same way or at the same time or circumstances get in the way. There are a million reasons that relationships fail and a million more reasons that we prolong the agony.
When you are seeking the love of your life, the words "just friends" can tear flesh. But sometimes we are better off as "just friends" and these words can be kindness. This is true only if we are willing to accept that we will not get everything we want when we want it and in the way we want it—when we mature.
Children expect their every effort to yield benefit. Adults understand that life is a process of learning and learning is a process of error correction. It is no travesty to enter into the wrong relationship but it may be quite tragic to remain beyond the point of wisdom.
Never step over wisdom to accommodate, "Who knows?" not when YOU KNOW!
These hindrances, the obstacles you will encounter, they are helpers in the goal of self-control, and aides towards temperance. I used to hate the setbacks as though they could only wreak havoc, now I thank God for them. You will know when He removes them. For now, covet them as guarantees and trust them as safeguards. The way I see it He loved me and cared enough to hinder me. Sometimes He is saving us from ourselves, from self-destruction.
We want every desire fulfilled, to succeed at every task and in that area, that tough area of relationships; everyone would like things to go their way. But I don't believe we could bear up under such a blessing. With our frail minds and corrupt hearts, we could not avoid asking for the things that might destroy us. We could not help but pursue the people who simply tantalize our eyes, stir our hearts, or fit our dreams, while leaving our souls barren.
Sometimes, sadly, it was this permissiveness I demanded of God. But this unflinching obedience to my desires would have destroyed me if given free reign. Fortunately love, despite my feeble attempts to constrain it and make it my pawn, tempered the blessings. Love opened and love closed, God permitted and God denied. If He is trying to hinder you, if the Lord has revealed reasons for pause—PAUSE! Be hindered!
There is no doubt that sin is involved in human affairs and false ideas may help shape loneliness. Your desires may come from a desire to belong and to gain in this world a symbol of success—marriage. You may even crave a person simply because they present to you an opportunity to fit in, to belong, or to overcome the awkward feelings of singleness. You may desire someone because they fit the image you have constructed without really knowing that person.
A person may be perfect on paper, but no one marries paper—at least no one should. That person may be perfect in dreams but life is not lived in dreams. They may have desirable qualities but nothing is sure until you walk down the aisle and say, "I do." Until then, do not ignore the various ways in which God offers advice—the many ways in which he hinders.
At thirty, these words meant something different than they do at forty or will at fifty and more. It is a little easier to step back and continue waiting when tomorrow seems ever future and plentiful. At that time the relational ocean seems deep and wide. Over time the desire becomes a longing and the longing an ache, a painful fear that relief may not be in sight—at least not soon. Then, it is even more difficult to turn seemingly "qualified" candidates away. I do understand this. It becomes even more difficult to heed the hindrances that suggest these candidates are "qualified." I realize this.
And yet, the same God who sees us through our thirties walks with us in our forties. The truth is, if we want the person of His choosing we must wait on the Lord. It is okay that doubt walks hand in hand with faith, as long as faith leads the way.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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**This article first published on February 25, 2010.