previously posted on January 18, 2010
(adj) arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain
So much of my relationship with God can be described with this word. He so often answers my prayers with an element of both bitter and sweet. For example, He answered my stay-at-home-mom prayer with the bitterness of moving from one state to another. My prayer for my OCAG girlies answered the same way: they are all serving God and following His calling (sweet); yet, they are ALL doing it miles and hours away from me (bitter).
God never wants us to stay in the same place spiritually and so often that desire causes Him to “upset” us physically, emotionally, or even mentally. The word says He makes all things new. Even if we want to stay in the old, He still chooses to move us into the new. He is a God of change not a God of monotony. The element of bittersweet so resounds in that philosophy – the sweet comes in the moving, the change. The bitter an integral part because we must leave the old behind to receive the new. He asks, “Will you move forward?” There’s excitement in what lies ahead: a new adventure, a deeper blessing, a promised truth in flesh and blood. Move is an action verb and requires that we leave one place and move to another. That could mean leave an old job, old relationship, old friend, old ministry… OR
Leave one life and move to another… Never were two young adults happier than Keith and I. If my father would have let go of my arm long enough, I would have sprinted down the aisle to marry Keith. He did, in fact, stop and pull my arm back and told me to slow down as he escorted me down the aisle. Keith and I laughed and smiled unabashedly during the ceremony and reception. To say that I was blissfully happy as we left the church that day and set out on our honeymoon would have been an understatement. The honeymoon week passed as if time didn’t exist; I had to remind myself on several occasions that I was finally married to the guy I had been madly in love with for the past six years. Ultimately, we returned to our very humble home, unpacked our things, and climbed into bed. It was then, during those quiet moments, I realized the bitter: I was no longer a child, could never run home to the safety of mom and dad; life would be forever DIFFERENT. In the midst of the sweet-a true gift from God-I tasted the bitter and tears came unexpectedly. My gift was tinged with sadness, a letting go had taken place admist wedding cake, I do’s, and honeymoon kisses, but I didn’t realize it until the honeymoon was over.
The Word is filled with those same moments: Ruth followed Naomi in the bitterness of their loss only to experience the sweetness of God’s perfect provision. Abraham held the bitter pill of sacrificing his son only to exchanged it for the sweetness of Jehovah’s nick-of-time provision. Esther chosen as queen only to risk her life to save her people. Mary delivery of a precious baby boy that ultimately brought him (and her) to the bitterness of the cross; Jesus’s death provided the sweetness of eternal life.
In each case, God was calling for each of them to move forward, to leave the comfort of their lives just so he could show His perfect love and care for each of them. He makes all things new. He calls and commands that we walk forward. We have a choice, yes, but if we choose to stay in the old and its comfort, its sweetness will fade and we live with the bitter regret of disobedience. However, on the other side of every move forward–a comfortable place sacrificed for a bitter unknown–He gives sweet back 100-fold.
Lord, may I never only take the sweet from You, but may I have the courage to move forward into the bitter no matter how difficult it may be. For You make all things New, and I promise to follow you FORWARD!