Unopened Letters, Chapter 1
July 5, 2006 “To the one God made for me,
I have spent so much time praying for you! Ever since I was a child I dreamed of my Prince and I know that you are more than I ever dreamed of! I have waited so long, and have kept every bit of myself for you!
I know that when you have read this letter, you and I will be completely in love. I have committed myself to you and studied God’s Word so that I can be a precious jewel to your name! I know that you will be a man of God that I will love with all my heart!
I love you!
I’ll never forget that moment in the 7th grade. I had a crush on this boy and was telling my sister about how I wanted to “date” him. My sister was (and is) my role model. She was six years older than me, a lover of Jesus, a beautiful musician and song-writer, and the most hilarious girl I knew. She was (and is) my best friend. She looked at me and said, “Gretchen, why don’t you just wait on the man God has for you instead of dating around?” And that was that. It was as if God whispered into my heart at that moment, I’ve got something great, if you’ll just wait.
Waiting. Oh how we as females cringe at that word on the inside. Wait? Why not now? The desire is burning within me. Doesn’t that mean the desire fulfilled is right around the corner? And when it is not within the next hour, day, month or year, we turn bitter. Why me, Lord? Why not her? What is wrong with me? I will never.... (fill in the blank). We quickly go from bad to worse. From when to why to never. We eliminate the fact that “God is able” and “God is faithful” the moment the waiting seems tough and we simply determine “God does not fulfill desires.” The question we must ask ourselves is, has God’s arm shortened since Isaiah 59:1 was written? Definitely not! He still hears. He still answers. He still provides. The fact is, waiting is a woven thread throughout all of Scripture. But have we been waiting on the wrong thing?
Noah waited an estimated 55-75 years before the earth flooded, yet all the while he was obedient to build an ark when there was no rain. Abraham waited to receive God’s promise of children numbering the sands and the stars. Sarah, his wife, waited 25 years to have Isaac, the son that God promised her. Job waited for God to redeem his life from the miserable pit. He had lost his family, his friends, his health, his wealth, and every earthly comfort you can imagine. The Israelites waited for their deliverance from the oppression of the Egyptians. Moses waited to enter the promised land (which he did not enter at all). He also waited on God’s direction for each step as he led the people of Israel. And we are only in the book of Exodus! Waiting is not a chore that God has deemed on His children. It is a privilege! We get to wait on Him to fulfill His promises, because during the wait He is faithful to mold us into the creation He wants us to be. He is still a Promise-Keeper, as Joshua 21:45 states, “Not one of all the good promises of the LORD failed; every one of them was fulfilled.”
The problem with our view of waiting is we focus on the promise to be fulfilled and not the fulfillment in our Creator. While focusing on waiting for answers and dreams to become reality, we miss having a vibrant, real, incredible relationship with the One, True God. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD (YHWH) is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” It seems that we are constantly confused searching for answers and for the will of God, but we neglect to search in the one place where the answer is to be found: the fear of the LORD and knowledge of the Holy One. We don’t truly know who God is when we worry about tomorrow and doubt that He will care for us. What if our hearts grasped the life-giving truth that He is Yahweh-Yireh, our Provider, Yahweh-Shammah, our Peace and El Roi, the God who sees us? We would be a people that the world could not deny that our God is real and alive.
From the moment I took my first breath, my parents taught me to love the Lord. My dad was a pastor of a church in El Paso, Texas, and my mom was his faithful companion. Together, they modeled for me what a marriage built upon the love of Jesus Christ looks like. Their love story should not go unnoticed. God was and is at the very center of it.
My Pawpaw was also a pastor for over fifty years. His name was K. Alvin Pitt, and like many other men of God, He was righteous and walked with the Lord all throughout his life. His wife, Virginia Pitt, was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis when she was 30. Soon after my parents were married, Mawmaw’s leg had to be amputated due to a surgery that resulted in a serious infection. The arthritis had much victory over her hands and feet, and by the time I was born, I only knew her as being crippled. Had God’s promises failed her and my Pawpaw? Certainly not! They knew this life was momentary, a vapor that would appear and then be gone. They knew health was fleeting. They knew that even their marriage was not about them, it was about God. They were without a doubt the most joyful people I have ever met in my life. They used my Mawmaw’s illness to bring glory to God. Even when Mawmaw was in pain, she praised Him and laughed and smiled and sang. Pawpaw and Mawmaw were not waiting on something to bring them relief and happiness. They were actively praising God in the midst of their trials.
James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The question you may ask me now is, would waiting be a trial? The word for various here means “multi-colored.” Throughout life, we will encounter trials of all kinds, and waiting can be a trial that deepens our faith in God. There are so many heartaches in life because we live in a sinful, fallen world ruled by Satan. We can’t miss the expected outcome, though. “That you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4) Don’t allow waiting to make you bitter. Hope in God, for around the corner will be a faith that is stronger than you could have dreamed. The problem arises when we allow a healthy desire for love to be mistaken with a worldly love that can take the place of God in our life.
I began to write love letters to my future husband when I was in middle school. These letters were a treasure to me. I would write the thoughts of my heart and declare my longing to meet the one who would be my husband, then seal them shut until the day HE would open them. I kept them in a special box and added to the collection until the day I was able to give them to the man God created for me. They were a precious picture of the sacredness of longing. They documented the journey I had with the Lord, and taught me what it meant to “smile at the future”, as Proverbs 31:25 says. Our God is holding the seconds of time in the palms of His hands. That is enough to make a smile light up on your face! Pouring out my heart to God through the letters was an act of placing my struggles and worries into His almighty arms. Each time I sealed another letter, hope lit the fire of my heart to know Jesus more.
When I was twelve years old, I created a list called “My Perfect Guy.” To humor you, here are a few requirements for a husband that were on my list (in numerical order):
- Stronger in walk with Christ than me
- A leader
- Curly hair (reddish brown, blonde, or black)
- Chews with mouth shut
- Will pray with me, but he takes the lead
- Doesn’t smoke or drink or cuss
- Romantic, creative
- Sweet and surprises me
- Bites nails (his nails must be shorter than mine)
- Good teeth
- Gives me flowers
- Not Afraid of bugs
That’s right, girls! You read it for yourself! I listed forty-three items that this man must meet to win my affections. A lot of these requirements are no where to be found in the Bible and completely superficial. (And let me tell you, my husband is NOT tan, but he certainly does chew with his mouth shut and, in my eyes, is the most handsome human being on earth!) I’ve looked at this list countless times growing up. I’ve even placed check marks next to items that a boy I had a crush on met. It was not until later in my walk with Christ that I learned that physical appearance and concerns, such as if he can be our personal bug exterminator, pale in comparison to what a Godly man truly looks like. Never does God say a man must be a certain height to be considered worthy of affection. He sent us Jesus, His Son, and our Savior, to paint a picture of what a God-fearing man should mirror.
In Isaiah 53, the prophet describes Jesus like this: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (italics mine) When I first read this, I struggled. Jesus wasn’t handsome in appearance? (like every picture I’d seen of him portrayed?) People didn’t flock to him because of his stately looks, perfect teeth and flowing locks of hair? No. I’ve learned that God was getting a point across to us. Looks do not constitute leadership, praise, or admiration. A heart that is completely bent towards God and knees that stay bowed down before Him is what matters. Our Savior, Jesus, was born in a manger as a baby. He wasn’t born in a palace of the noblest decent. He was God, yet was the humblest man to ever walk the earth, and His purpose was to glorify God.
My fear is that we girls miss a truth God longs for us to know. He created all love stories to point to Jesus. Jesus is the summation of love, because God so loved us that He sent us His Son to die on the cross, and Jesus so loved His Father that He died on the cross to glorify Him. We do an injustice to men and to the beautiful promises of God when we limit Him by silly requests for our husband to be a certain height, weight and perfect alignment of teeth. We are doubting the extreme perfect love of God and His ultimate sovereignty when we worry ourselves with such trivial issues. I am 5’11, have no basketball skills, can’t jump very high, and am constantly looking down at my friends (not because of who they are, but because of height differences). It took me years before I would stand up straight, because I truly believed that if I hunched over I would appear shorter and be more attractive. Instead, I just looked like a tall girl with a hunched back.
Needless to say, I greatly feared that God would make me marry a man who was 5’1. My friends would even tease me about it, knowing that I was waiting on God’s timing to meet His man for me. This was so ridiculous, but it was so real to me at the time that fear gripped me. The thought that God would tease me or make me miserable is found no where in Scripture. It comes from a lack of knowledge of who He is and from a longing for Him to fulfill our desires our way. We doubt that God truly has great plans when we create a list and a dream that centers around our ideal picture and does not let Him do the painting.
My parents met each other at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. They both had previously received letters from a pastor telling them both that they should meet. They met a few weeks after the semester started in a singles group and began dating. It wasn’t for a few months that they met in a singles group and began dating. Mom wrote letters to my Pawpaw asking his wisdom on what to do while she waited on God. He responded with such beautiful advice “I know waiting on the Lord to reveal His will is not easy. There is nothing I can share but the Word which says ‘For ye have need of patience, that after you have done the will, ye might receive the promise.’ You will know, yea, you will receive in God’s own time. Smith Wigglesworth of yesteryear said ‘I am not moved by what I see, I am not moved by what I feel I am moved by what I believe. I believe God’s Word.’”
My beloved sisters, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and not be moved by our emotions or what the world tells us to believe. Are you looking to and fro, trying to find answers in places they were never meant to be found? Is your heart moved by love stories that don’t reflect a Biblical model of marriage? Is the Word of God the source of your life and where you heart has been rooted? Take time to sort through what you are believing that is of the world, and what you are believing that is of God. You will be surprised when you measure everything with Scripture how many things we hold as truth truly aren’t. We have an enemy, his name is Satan and his fate is already sealed. His very heartbeat is to make you doubt God and to make your fulfillment the goal of your life. Remember how he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden? He made her doubt what God really said. The irony of this is that apart from God there is no lasting fulfillment. Satan tricks us into a trap that leaves most of us swimming for relief in deep waters of worldly pursuits.
Bethany Dillon beautifully wrote a song called, “To Those Who Wait.” (You should go listen to this!) In her song, she tells the Lord “You could do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.” Ever feel like you are constantly doing and never getting anywhere? I believed the crafty lie of Satan, the same one he used to deceive Eve, that if I took matters into my own hands I could basically twist God’s arm to send me my future husband quicker. Placing my own fate into my hands, I tried to be a more godly girl, went to more church functions and constantly “surrendered” my desire to the Lord hoping I would speed up His work. Maybe He would notice all I had done and reward me? This only led me to a life of comparison to other girls around me. It left me helpless and striving to please God to get my way. Our relationship became one of begging and pleasing to get my way. My love for Him suffered when my way and my timing didn’t come to fruition.
The Lord then opened my eyes to Lamentations 3:21-25 (italics mine):
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD (YHWH) is my portion’, says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
These words were written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites when they were in Babylonian Exile. Can you imagine? They had been stripped of all their dignity, possessions, land and rights. All because they were disobedient to the Lord. They did not obey His call to them to wait for Him and obey His commandments. They took matters into their own hands and ended up in the most terrible situation. Yet in the midst of utter desperation, the Lord reminds them of the sweet truth that if they would just wait on Him, He will act. If their souls would grasp that He is their portion, they would be full of hope. They had been waiting on a Savior, whose name is Jesus Christ. The people had to wait 400 years of complete silence from God after this, and then came that perfect day in Bethlehem when the cry of a baby boy in a manger broke the silence. Jesus had come. He was their hope fulfilled and He is our hope today.
Each day we are given is an unopened letter. Just as I wrote letters to my future husband, sealed them for him to open one day, and treasured them, so does God write each day for us a letter that He wants us to open. Yet we are only given one each day. The days ahead are sealed and not to be tampered with. He wants us to be faithful in this day, trusting in His plans for tomorrow, embracing the gifts He reveals each moment. More importantly, His Word is a love letter He has authored for us. His Love Letter is greater than any book you will ever read. The carefully chosen words bring life to a weary, waiting soul and hope that literally changes you into a new creation by simply reading the words of life. Persecuted Christians around the world cling to just one page they may have, and that page is enough to save their soul and give them hope through tribulation and suffering. As you wait, fill your soul with the words of truth. Fall in love with Jesus, your one true love. He is faithful to the end.
Wait for Him. While He does a mighty work as you wait, pour yourselves into His truth and know your Savior better than you know your friends. Pray that God would open up your eyes to the beautiful truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ every single day. Let us be women of the Word. I pray we would line up ALL things according to the Bible, because “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16a) Just as His breath in our bodies is our life, so His words in our hearts is abundant life. They will fill your waiting soul with hope and longing heart with immeasurable joy!
- List all the things you have required God to fulfill for a future husband? Are these fleeting, worldly attributes. Or are they Jesus-centered characteristics? I challenge you to mark out all limitations you have placed on God, and to pray that you would truly know that His plans are good and His ways are best!
- Read Psalm 15 and Psalm 112. Write down every characteristic that describes a man of God. Pray that you as a woman would encourage your fellow brothers in Christ to become men like this. Pray that if God has purposed for you to be married, that your future husband would be instilled in Him by the grace and working of the hand of God.
- Write down first what you know about Jesus. Then read Isaiah 53, Philippians 2, and Revelation 1. Write down all the descriptions you see of Jesus in these three passages. Take time (whether it be ten minutes of silence, or an entire day) simply thinking about your Savior. He is the only perfect man to have walked the earth. He died an excruciating death and bore the weight of your sins on His body. And He conquered it all! Praise Him, esteem Him in your heart, and honor Him with your words. Remember that the very breaths you are taking are crying out to Him. Breathe in. Breathe out. Now praise.
praising in the waiting,