A Light in the Darkness

It’s been almost a week since move-in day. Actually, a week ago tonight I was sitting in the hotel room with my family and they were sharing their favorite memories of me. I was excited, uncertain, afraid, anxious, eager.

God has put to rest those fears and anxieties. A week into this journey, I can honestly say that I love college so far. I love the community of learning and fellowship. I love my peers and my professors. I love the sense of tradition and celebration.

I declare again, GOD IS FAITHFUL.

But there’s a lot of pain and hurt at college too. We’ve had to discuss a lot of sensitive issues, because they are real issues. And we’ve also had to deal with the suicide of a senior student on Monday morning. Yet in the midst of that pain, 1521 freshman walked through the halls of the Wren Building yesterday evening to officially become part of the William & Mary Tribe.

I’ve become more aware of the world’s brokenness in the past week. At the same time, I have become even more aware of God’s presence. HE IS HERE.

Last week, my friend Ellie sent me an excited text: “I wanted to let you know that God is at college, he’s waiting for you there, and you are going to be surprised by the grace there. :D”

How true. My roommate and I have been encouraged by the Christian community on campus. Simply by playing Christian music, doing Bible study outside, and being open about our faith, we have discovered other Christians who are eager to share in this adventure. We have been amazed at the presence of the Christian ministries on campus and their outpouring of support.

I came across this video today and it describes my thoughts perfectly. God is present on the campus of William & Mary. He is present in your workplace, your school, and your neighborhood. He is present in Iraq, Syria, and West Africa. HE IS HERE.

No matter what struggles you face, remember that darkness will never win. The light of Jesus has already defeated the world.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

Keep shining!

– – Phebe


Dating vs. Courtship *Spoiler* Neither Wins

Recently there has been an article going around Facebook titled “Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed.” The article has been praised and shared by many of my friends, all of whom I respect very much. However, I would like to address why this article is fundamentally flawed.

Check out the article here. It is quite long, but a skim will give you the main ideas.

There are a few things I appreciate about the article. First, I applaud the author for starting a discussion on a sensitive subject. The pros and cons of courtship absolutely need to be evaluated, especially within the homeschool community.

Second, I also appreciate that the author defines traditional courtship and traditional dating. While the idea of name-calling relationship methods bothers me, it is important to have an understanding of the basis and intent of different methods.

Third, the author does uncover many of the flaws of the traditional habit of courtship, including exclusivity in a relationship, high parental control that can lead to rejection, and the lack of “getting to know someone”. The author argues that courtship can lead to frustration in a relationship, because there becomes a level of seriousness before the individuals have had a chance to get to know each other or other potential partners. In traditional courtship, everything is serious and everything is monitored. I agree with the author that it is important for parents to trust their children and for individuals to get to know each other in an informal context.

However, I also found there to be several problems with the article itself. The author sounds bitter towards courtship, based on his judgmental tone towards the subject. His bitterness leads to a a one-sided discussion of courtship. The article is obviously pro-dating and as a result, does not consider the other side of the argument. The author points out that courtship has led to a higher divorce rate, but his statement is based solely on personal observation. The author supports dating because it is “fun” and has “less heartbreak”. Both of these points are valid, but not absolutes. In addition, his tips for single men and women do not include a discussion of age and maturity—both of which are essential for a healthy relationship.

I don’t want to discuss whether “dating” or “courtship” is the right approach. Here’s what I would like to argue: There is no one-size-fits-all method. The discussion of both points of view would have made his article much more credible.

The “traditional dating” method, as practiced by our grandparents generation, is promoted by the author. As defined by the author, traditional dating refers to going on multiple dates with different people during a short span of time. Both of my grandparents were part of this generation. One pair of grandparents have been happily married for sixty years. The other pair divorced many years ago. In regard to non-traditional dating, my childhood mentor dated only one man and is now happily married to him.

All this to say, there is no tried and true method for finding your marriage partner. And there is no assured method to success.

Since I'm talking about relationships, I had to use the cutest couple that ever graced television.

Since I’m talking about relationships, I had to use a picture of the cutest couple to ever grace television.

Some people defend courtship because they believe the process is more godly. The author argues that courtship is not Biblical. I agree. But neither is dating. The Bible does not discuss either. It’s a “grey area.” What the Bible does discuss is purity – emotional and physical – and the pursuit of righteousness.

So how should Christians respond to the courtship vs. dating debate? How should Christians go about having godly relationships?

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I would contend that seeking God is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. And God is the ONLY thing truly worth pursuing. When we are in God’s will and following His commands, we will be blessed.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

When we actively seek God and find joy in Him, the desires of our heart will become aligned with His. We will end up receiving the desires of God’s heart. His desire for us is to live in relationship with Him, seeking to love Him and love others.

When we are living a life to honor God, we will find our identity in Him.

God’s will is not for us to find our identity in a relationship with any human. I believe that God’s desire for His children in any relationship is to honor Him. The purpose of marriage is for a man and a woman to seek and obey God together. And I believe He wants the same for our relationships before marriage, whether we call it “dating” or “courtship.”

In either situation, we will be tempted.

In either situation, emotional heartbreak can occur.

No method will ever fix these problems, unless God is the main focus in our lives. And even then, we will still be hurt. Our response through relationship struggles should be to turn to God for healing and love.

In the words of Jesus, the greatest commandment is to…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37).

No matter your method, you won’t have a happy relationship until you achieve that first.

And you will never have a perfect relationship on this earth. Whether you choose to date or court before marriage, when you choose to get married, you choose to love the other person unconditionally. It is not fair to blame your parents or your relationship habits for your marriage struggles. Marriage is a covenant before God. (But that’s a discussion for another blog post…)

One final topic I would like to address: The author argues that traditional dating is the system to to help young people make good decisions. He also writes, “Traditional Dating fits our culture like a glove.”

As Christians, our goal should not be to “fit” the culture. We should look different.

I leave you with this:

Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

God’s will is for you to love Him with everything. Whether you choose to “date” or “court,” seek to stand out in the culture as an example of what real love looks like. (Hint: it looks like Jesus.)

– – Phebe

In less than a week I am headed off for a new adventure! As I change location to Williamsburg, I’ve also decided it’s time for a blog change. And so, with my personal updates, I’ve also updated my blog theme! I would appreciate if you would check it out (by clicking on the link) and let me know what you think. I will probably be modifying the next few weeks as well.

Thank you for your support over the past 10 months! If you have been blessed by my blog, I would appreciate if you would share with others. New and exciting things are on the way for God Gazing!

God Our Rock

The past week I have spent vacationing with my family at the beach. The week or two we spend at the beach is always my favorite part of the summer. I love the ocean spray, the texture of sand, the wide open sky, and the sun’s brilliance. The beauty of God’s creation is captivating. And there is something so reassuring in seeing God’s power displayed through the crashing waves. The beach reminds me of God’s presence and His control. 

The beach also allows me a chance to read for fun – an activity I rarely get to enjoy in the midst of textbooks and essays. This week I finished reading “If I Perish,” the story of Esther Ahn, a young woman who withstood persecution for her faith in the hands of the Japanese warlords during World War II. Her memoir opened my eyes to the atrocities committed during the world war, but more importantly, it reminded me of God’s protection and power over those who serve Him. Towards the end of her sentence, Miss Ahn was asked to write a report of her time in prison. Here is what she wrote.

The solid Rock, in an ocean expanse,

The billowing waves, crushes,

When it compels the Rock,

Yet the Rock stands unchanging, everlasting.

She was asked to explain.

“The wide, endless ocean is my theme,” I explained. “In the infinite sea, the waves incessantly surge high and disappear. Those huge, billowing breakers hit the big rock and are crushed instantaneously, turning to foam.

“In this metaphor the ocean is history, and the wave is a nation. The waves represent an insane nation that is not able to distinguish between right and wrong. The solid rock is the law of God who created the heavens and the earth and who rules all the universe.

“No matter how powerfully the waves roll in, as soon as they hit the solid rock they are crushed and dissipate into foam. They are made ashamed of themselves before the world and the history of man. The rock is firm and unchanging. The dominion of Jehovah, God, cannot be changed by any power of any nation or race. That is what the poem means.”

(Kim, Esther Ahn. If I Perish. Moody Bible Institute: Chicago, IL, 1977.) 

Her words resonated with me because I have witnessed the waves this week. The waves are strong and able to overcome a human, but they can not keep form against a rock. God is our rock. There is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty in the world right now. Christians continue to be persecuted. When your faith is shaken, remember that you stand upon the rock. In the end, God will always win.

Jesus warned his disciples of the troubles ahead for them: his impending death and the resulting persecution. He reassured them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) 

The truth remains today. Take heart! Jesus has overcome the world.

– – Phebe