Settling for Silver: Life’s Second Bests and Empty Promises
Do you ever feel like God is holding out on you?
I remember wearing a promise ring that meant my boyfriend and I would eventually be together forever. We had dated off and on for five and a half years. I wanted God’s permission and blessing on our relationship, so when I went to a Christian conference, I decided to leave the ring at home and put the relationship entirely in God’s hands. If He didn’t want us together, then we’d break up.
I didn’t mean it.
At the conference I worshipped with old friends and made new ones. I felt thrilled that as a sophomore in college I had my life all figured out. I loved God. I loved my cute boyfriend. Things could not get any better. But then God actually spoke to me during worship. He asked me, “What are you doing?” I was completely taken aback!
There are few times in my life that I know that I’ve heard from the Lord. The voice in my heart was quiet, firm, yet somehow shouting, “This is not My will.” I knew He was talking about my boyfriend, and I knew He was right. I had been praying throughout the conference for our relationship, but my prayers were for God’s blessing, not surrendering my relationship to Him.
I did not trust God.
If I gave God this area, He might actually take my security blanket boyfriend away.
I remember going to the mall with some friends a few days after the breakup. I was sitting at Starbucks over the Christmas break watching ice skaters swirl and laugh, and I thought I will never be that happy again. I knew that I would never be the same, because I had just given everything over to God.
I was set to be miserable forever.
I cried. I cried for the loss. I cried for the choice I had to make but didn’t really want to. I cried out in anguish at a God that would take it all away. I just kept crying. I cried for months and months. I would wake up fine. I’d get all ready to go to school and put my hand on the doorknob and start sobbing. I would literally crumble to the floor, face in the carpet, telling myself that I would not call my ex today. I could’t comprehend not ever calling him again, so I had to ask God to give me strength to not call him just for that day.
God took my boyfriend. Now, I was empty. No silver in hand, and I was miserable. But at least I had finally given everything over to God.
One night, my roommates came in to try to cheer me up. “Don’t you know that God has an amazing Christian man for you?” Andrea cooed as she put her arm around my shoulder. “I know He does, but that man is going to be so ugly! Oh, he’ll love God, but I’m not ever going to want to kiss him on the lips!” I screamed. All my roommates got really quiet and then burst out laughing … and so did I.
It was funny, but true. I had never voiced my true fear. I feared that if I followed God’s plan for my life, then I would hate it. I’d have to settle, because God wasn’t really good. He didn’t know or wasn’t intending to give me what I really wanted.
“Why do you think that God would show you gold and give you silver?” Andrea softly asked me.
I was speechless.
I cannot tell you how many times that question had gone through my head over the years. She was right. It is biblical that God’s plans always trump the empty promises of the world. His covenants are stronger than any curse, and His plans are better for us than our greatest imagination. If He wants what’s in our hands, then what He has planned is better.
We give him what we perceive as good; He gives us great. We give Him our sin; He gives us grace. He always out gives.
On the other hand, Satan’s gifts are like gilded gold. He dangles replicas of good ideas, good guys, and good gifts hoping we will admire them and set our hearts upon them. Our enemy’s goal is to tempt us to desire his shiny offerings and spend our time and emotional energy chasing after them.
I was spending my energy trying to get God-sized satisfaction from a man. I was so empty that I reached for second best and settled for a good guy in my hand now rather than hold out for God’s best. But even in my doubt, God kept reminding me through the prophet Isaiah that His gifts are available and better:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and you will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55).
Notice God does not just offer water, He gives milk and wine. It is beyond the need. He surpasses our basic expectations to what we truly want. He made us and knows our dreams, our calling, and even the kind of person we truly want to kiss! Satan also takes cues on what we think we want. He observes what catches our eyes at the mall or where we click on the internet. He dangles tarnished silver in front of those whose senses are not “trained to discern good from evil” (Heb 5:14).
God’s gifts may refine us, but they are still good for us. They are “good gifts coming down from the Father of lights” (Js 1:17). Like the cross, there are some gifts that hurt. But it cost God everything to pay for our sin, He knows what will bring about a greater end. His plan redeemed humanity and it will transform us daily into the perfect image of His Son, if we’ll receive from Him (Isa 48:10; 2 Cor 3:18).
I had to learn to lean on Christ alone daily, not Christ plus the safety net of a boyfriend. Even though my ex-boyfriend happened to be a great guy, we were not best for each other. I abused that relationship over and over because I used him to feel good about myself. We were completely, pathetically codependent. Later, I went back and apologized to him. Curiously, it was about five and a half years later that I got engaged to my very kissable husband Jared. (The very same amount of time I spent doing life my way.) God appreciates redemptive timing, doesn’t He?
I had to meekly and slowly re-learn to live God’s way. I had to find meaning and purpose in my life apart from a relationship with a man. I had to learn to trust that God really was good and right and fulfilling, again and again. There are still times when I feel the pull to once again to doubt God’s goodness, but I do not want to miss out on His greater gifts. I want the community and the calling that He says is best in my life. I don’t want to waste my time or energy on counterfeits or second bests.
We’ve all doubted the goodness of God on some level, but I want us to begin to fathom the absolute, unwavering goodness of our Creator. I want Him to lessen the gaps in our faith so that we settle for silver less and hold out for His gold, more. Will you pray with me?
Father, help me weary of settling for second best. Help me let go of clinging to whatever comes my way, because I doubt Your total ability and desire to bring goodness to me. I’m sorry. Wash me of all doubt that dims my high view of the plans that You have for my life. Help me believe Your Word that Your gifts are free and good and rich and best. Jesus, by Your power, I resolve to take hold of whatever You have prepared for me in advance, by faith through Your grace.
Take a moment right now, and write out Matthew 7:11. Answer the question for yourself.
Read Ephesians 2:10. Ask God to help you believe and begin to walk out His golden path.
by Angel Angell with Shabby Chic Ministries
For more from Angel and Shabby Chic Ministries, host a Fashion Your Weapons event at your church! Share Shabby Chic Ministries’ event info with your women’s ministry leader. And stay tuned for a new Bible study from Shabby Chic Ministries: How to Pour Your Man a Drink: Love and Loss at the Biblical Well.