“It’s because you’re a … Christian.”
They’d say ‘Christian’ like it was taboo, you know, like the way Hermione whispers ‘Voldemort’ for the first time in the Order Of the Phoenix, as if saying it might suddenly cause Jesus himself to manifest before them. Wouldn’t that be a sight?
It’s always been easy for me to say no to guys who don’t know Jesus. I’d do my best to graciously explain that the ‘Jesus thing’ was kind of a deal-breaker for me; we were a package deal. Since encountering Jesus three years ago, my perspective on relationships changed. I desired a partnership, not just a playmate. A prince that didn’t rescue me but who saddled up the horse, threw me a sword and asked: “Which village are we off to save next, honey?” I was wired with a warrior spirit and I’ve always promised myself I would never settle for anything less than a man after God’s own heart.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting in Dubai airport seriously considering missing my flight home and eloping with an American military man that I had known for approximately nine hours.
Oh yeah, and he was an atheist.
I was on a 12-hour layover as I flew home from an oppressive, dark, in-desperate-need-of-Jesus country so maybe it was the intense sense of freedom that caused me to act so irrationally. The fact I could actually talk to a man without being labelled was rather refreshing.
Or maybe I had an aneurism.
Or maybe it was because this man embodied everything I desire: passion, drive, adventure and that Joshua-esque warrior essence. The type of man who would catch literal grenades for you. Not to mention he was flying home from the same oppressed region where I had just spent my Easter – the place I plan to move to in September. He had everything I ever dreamed of, all tied up in 6’3 of a dark haired, green eyed, muscle bound hunk.
Well he had nearly everything – the catch being he had zero interest in knowing Jesus. Zilch. Nada.
Not even after I passionately recounted to him how beautifully Jesus had healed me and brought me into life.
He had 90 per cent of all I ever dreamed of. In the heat of the moment, I was on the cusp of settling for 90 per cent. After nine hours of intense conversation and a table between us to stop myself from walking into temptation, I walked him to his departure gate. He brushed the hair from my face and kissed me. He asked me to miss my flight and come to America with him. He offered me a life of possibility.
My life suddenly reflected a Nicholas Sparks novel.
I wish I could write that after he boarded his flight I fell to my knees and prayed for the Lord to lead me not into temptation. But that’s not real. Reality is evening FaceTime calls, fantasies of a life and giggling together at nothing. Choosing to say no to 90 per cent of beautiful potential and yes to 100 per cent of God’s excellence, perfect timing and good gifts is exactly that, a choice. Say hello to freewill my friend: it isn’t always easy.
When we know someone isn’t God’s best for us we spend our time rationalising our choice to keep pursuing them. I know I’ve spent hours rationalising the decision to keep enjoying the adoration of this great man. I have battled between destiny and desire. In the past, I’ve believed that I must choose between my destiny and my desire, but I heard the gentle whisper of the Father tell me that when both are firmly grounded in Christ, they will align perfectly.
I’ve told myself that I can lead him to faith. But investing in the wrong time, place and person officially halts destiny momentum, even when it’s dressed up in romance. I can’t make it my job to disciple him into a greater sense of destiny. I can’t make ‘Mr 90’ my end goal. My end goal is always Christ-like surrender, secure in the assurance of God’s timing with my hearts desires.
I could live euphorically with 90 per cent, but that extra 10 per cent really does make a difference. Christ is the extra 10 per cent worth holding out for. When someone is 100 per cent rooted in Christ we won’t be able to get to know them without getting to know Christ better. And anything that draws us closer to the one who created us is worth holding out for.
As children of God we are told to set a standard of excellence in all that we do; we can never settle for 90 per cent because God wants us to live a life of 100 per cent fulfilment in Him. When we know our worth we won’t settle for instant gratification, no matter how much they look like Gerard Butler as King Leonidas. Instead, we will wait patiently for the excellence destined for us.
So, as reluctant as I am, I will continue to have ‘Jesus freak’ as a non-negotiable. I will lean on Christ’s understanding that when a man truly loves the Lord, he will know how to love me. After all, if that’s what 90 per cent looks like, God’s 100 per cent is sure to be worth waiting for.