Dannah Gresh: I want to ask you . . . I’m going to tell you. I’m going to talk to you about cravings, desires, and appetites—oh my! (laughter)
Now, I’m going to list four food groups for you, and I want you to select one of them and place yourself in a food group. The way you place yourself in that food group is when you have no self-control whatsoever with that item, that is your food group.
For example, last night I ordered some rice and butternut squash and kale to my room. That sounds healthy and wise, doesn’t it. (laughter) They also included a half loaf of warm, crusty bread. (laughter) Enough for my whole family, and I ate it. (laughter) So I am a carb girl.
That is one of the categories.
Maybe you're a sweet girl. Maybe you’re a salty food girl. Or maybe you are a carbonated beverage girl. What category is your food group that you just could not live without?
So, where are my fellow carboholics? (applause and cheering) Uh, huh. Okay, girls. The next time somebody delivers a hot, crusty loaf of bread to your hotel room, you need to tell yourself that it’s not what you really need. Your body is sending you a signal, though, that you need some chromium. So you should probably instead eat some broccoli. (laughter) Oh, yeah, that's going to happen.
Where are my sweet girls? (applause and cheering) Yes, cupcakes are your friend, but not really. Your body is trying to send you a signal when you are craving sweets that you need chromium, so you should try some fish. (laughter)
Now here’s my favorite. Salty girls, where are you? (Sounds of applause and cheering.) Your body is trying to tell you you need chloride. So the next time you are craving a bag of Doritos, reach for some raw goat milk. (laughter)
And where are the girls out there who think that carbonated drinks are a breakfast beverage? (applause and cheering) You wake up with a Dr. Pepper in your hand, right? (laughter) Your body is trying to tell you you need calcium. So you should have some mustard and cheese, which probably would go quite well with a Dr. Pepper, so that's good for you. (laughter)
Now, I know that this information is accurate because I found it on Pinterest (laughter), so we can trust it.
But I think that what we can agree on is that our cravings and our appetites and our desires often do lie to us, don't they? I didn't really feel more full after I hate a half loaf of warm, crusty bread—did I mention it was warm and crusty? (laughter) I didn't feel less hungry. Instead, at one in the morning I was hungry again, because it wasn't really what my body needed.
And our cravings and our desires lie to us.
Would you open your Bible to Genesis 3?
There is one craving that lies to us more potently than probably all the rest, and it is more deadly. It’s found in Genesis 3:16. Countless generations of women have had this craving, this desire, this appetite. You have it. Your mom had it. Your grandma had it. Your great-grandma had it. This goes all the way back to Eve. The craving that I’m going to read to you about is a part of the curse.
This verse I'm going to read is happening right after Eve has believed the lie of the serpent and taken that piece of fruit, and God comes to describe for them what the consequences will feel like. And He says to Eve in verse 16, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Now, the word "desire" is key here. Some theologians say that it was a desire bordering on disease—all consuming, overpowering for her. Now, theologians argue about: Was this a desire for Adam—because he was a fine man? (laughter) Or was this a desire to control Adam?
Now, I think it could be either. It's an important conversation and argument, but what I have seen, Sisters, is that we are quite adept at accomplishing both of those: Needing a man and wanting to control him.
Now, the craving shows up in our lives really early—like kindergarten. We're like, “God, give me the guy, give me the guy, give me the guy, give me the guy.” And we pray that prayer all through middle school, all through high school, all through college, all through . . . “God, give me the guy, give me the guy, give me the guy.” But when we get the guy, the craving hasn't actually been abated until we're like, “God, fix the guy.” (laughter) Right?
Well, let's admit one thing: This craving is probably lying to us. This desire, this appetite is probably lying to us. And it is out of this craving and out of this desire that our lies about marriage are birthed.
The desire to be loved, that's not a bad thing. Let's admit it, that we need to be loved. That it is not just a need of woman, but humanity. It is a need that we have deep in our heart. God created us to be loved.
Once when I was in a particularly deep season of feeling unloved and wanting a man to be the source of that love, God directed me to a Bible verse that has been a healing balm for my soul for decades.
Would you turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 19:22? It reads very simply, “What a man desires [deep craving] is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.”
Now what does being poor or a liar have to do with my deep desire for unfailing love? Well, I think God is giving us permission to say how very much we need it. He says, “Listen, admit it. You need to be loved. You want to be loved. You were made to be loved. It’s better to say that and be weak and less and in need of it than to lie.”
Don't believe the lie that you don't need to be loved. You do need to be loved. It is important. But unfailing love? Those words unfailing love are used thirty-two times in the Old Testament together and never is the source of it anyone other than God Himself.
Your heart was created to be in a love relationship with the God of the universe, and it’s the only one that will never fail you.
Listen, the most wonderful man in the world, the most loving, servant-hearted, Ephesians 5 and 6 man on this planet will fail the woman that he loves because he is human. The only place you can go to find unfailing love is to the source of love. No man can give you that. Only God can. So, your prescription for this craving cannot be found in a man. It cannot be found in marriage, as good as marriage is. It has to be found in God.
Years ago my daughter came home with a friend who had a t-shirt on. They were both teenagers at the time, and the t-shirt said, “A girl has to be so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find her.” Good, huh? That's not Dannah—don't quote Dannah. When you put it on Twitter, make sure that the source is a $25 t-shirt. (laughter) But it is good truth, isn't it? It's good truth for us in marriage, and it’s good truth before marriage.
Ephesians 5:31–32 says,
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery—but I'm really talking about Christ and the church.
Marriage and our love inside of marriage was always intended to be a picture of the love of Christ for His Bride, the Church. But we really get things backwards when we think we can understand the love of Christ if we have a guy one day, and if our marriage is happy and fulfilling, then I will . . . That's backwards, my friends.
You can't paint a picture of something you have not seen and experienced. First, we must know the unfailing love of God. And then, as we are satisfied fully in that, we can enter into a relationship with a guy that has the potential of painting a picture of Christ's love.
I want to confess to you that I have believed a lie about my marriage. I believed it as a single woman, and I believed it as a married woman. And it's this: I am not a picture of the gospel. I can't possibly be a picture of the gospel. As a single girl, I believed it because I wasn't married. I didn't have the guy, so I can't paint the picture of Christ's love, right?
And then as a married woman, when I found out that not only the guy needed fixed, but so did I, and marriage was hard sometimes. Well, I'm not a picture of the gospel because this marriage isn't good enough.
Have you ever believed either of those? Have you ever believed that you couldn't be a picture of the gospel because you were single? Or that you couldn't be a picture of the gospel because your marriage just wasn't good enough?
Well, today I hope that I can use the healing balm that God put on my heart to comfort yours.
Single girls, what I found in the Bible, in God's wonderful letter to us, is that He seeks us; that there is a before love; that He loved me before I loved Him. His love for us, His unfailing love for us is characterized by a seeking for us, a yearning for us. First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved.”
Here, right now, in this room, God is seeking after you. He is searching for you. Even if you know Him, even if you love Him, He wants a deeper love relationship with you. He has had and always will have a before love for you. He knew you in your mother's womb, and He knew you before that. He has sought you, and He is seeking you.
We must never, never, never confuse a lack of feeling God with the reality that He is present Where can we go from the Spirit? Where can we flee from His presence?
Now, in this moment, in this room, you are the object of His unfailing love, and He is seeking you out.
Single girls, that ache in your heart to know and be known, it is a planting of God. And you are a picture of the gospel right now, in this place, with that hurt in your heart, with that loneliness, with that ache, because you are in the seeking love. You are in the before love. Give yourself permission for the desire.
Now, we can't be consumed by it. It can't override our lives. We have to first and foremost enter into a love relationship with Him, with Jesus, because there is no guy that is going to satisfy you until you have that. But will you please just let your heart have permission, while you live your life, and you serve the Lord in your singleness and find your fulfilling purpose, open your heart to the idea that it's okay to have this desire.
You know, a girl we know a lot and love a lot, her name is Nancy, was single for fifty-six years, fulfilling her purpose and her call on this planet. And many of us have been spiritually mothered by her while she was single. She didn't walk around pining for a man, but she obviously kept her heart open to it. (laughter)
It’s okay to keep your heart open as you live in the before love, in the seeking love. God has a before love for you. It’s okay to experience that. It’s okay to ache through it.
Married sisters, do you have a perfect marriage? Not me. In those days, on those fights, in those hard moments, I just feel like I'm not a picture of the gospel. So God revealed to me in His Word there is something called after love. The deep romance of young lovers, that's baby love. It's good. It's passionate and exciting.
But when I know that I know that I know that Bob Gresh loves me, it's after I've been sinful. When I know that Bob is faithful and unfailing in his love for me, it's after I've wounded him, after I've hurt him, after I've disappointed him.
Perhaps more than any other characteristic of God's unfailing love, this is something I have needed so very much to understand, because it gives me not only hope in Bob and Dannah, but hope in Dannah and Jesu—because sometimes I get that love relationship wrong, too.
And today, when the church is so broken and so wounded, it gives me hope for the love of Jesus and the Church.
Ezekiel wrote about this after love. He wrote about the faithful love that God had for a very broken Israel. Israel has been so unfaithful that Ezekiel describes what it has done in its love relationship with God as prostitution. And after that, Ezekiel writes, “Yet, [says God] I will remember the covenant made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you" (16:60). So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord.”
God's relational, unfailing love means that, even when we've been unfaithful, He is still pursuing us. He is still there. He is still with us.
Are any of you going to deserve the love of God on the day that we, as a Church, consummate our love relationship with our Savior? I'm talking about what's written about in the book of Revelation. Which of us will deserve to wear white because we're pure enough and holy enough? And yet, that's what the book says we will do.
The first words in the book of Revelation suggest a consummation, the term apocalypses usually translated as revelation, literally means "an unveiling." Does that sound like a wedding to you?
In John’s times, Jews commonly spoke of apocalypses to describe part of their week-long wedding festivities. So when John wrote about this love with this word, it was so understanding. That apocalypses was the lifting of the bridal veil so that the bridegroom could see his beautiful bride.
That is what you and I were made for, that intimacy, that love. That is an after love. After we have lived our lives and messed everything up, after the Savior has died for us (and it has been costly), after all of that, that is when Christ lifts the veil and looks at His once bloodied and broken Church and says, “I love you even here, even now, even though.”
And so, I guess that when Bob and Dannah don't have good days, if I respond with Christ's unfailing love, if I respond with holiness and truth in my heart even though it's been painful, even though it's hurt, even then we are painting a picture of Christ's love. Even then, Sisters, you are painting a picture.
Four nights ago my husband and I were awake at 4:00 in the morning hurting, crying, hurting each other. It was there in the dark of the night, when my heart was so broken and the tears were flowing, that I realized one more time that Bob and Dannah Gresh had made it past another pain, made it past another wounding, and that the unfailing love was rising up for us again, even though.
We made it past my workaholism and past his depression. We made it past my emotional brokenness and his lack of presence. We made it past my uncontrolled tongue and past his sometimes inability to lead well. And there were a lot of tears. There were a lot of accusations. And there was a lot of forgiveness. And there, in that moment, in the darkness, we were still painting a picture of Christ's love, Christ's unfailing love.
My single sisters, if your heart is yearning for love, you are in that state of before love. You are still a picture of the gospel. It is a lie that you aren't.
And my married sisters, on those times when you feel broken like Bob and Dannah Gresh do, if you rise up in truth and love, you are still painting a picture of the gospel.
Keith and Kristyn are going to come back, and we're going to sing about the faithful love of God. And as you do, I want to ask you to do this: Singles, give yourself permission to have the desire. Have a talk with God as you sing this song that, “I want first and foremost to sing of Your faithful love in my life, and make me satisfied in that before You give me an earthly love to paint a picture with.”
And married women, if you could just say, “Lord, erase the lie that I can't paint a picture of the love of Christ for the Church in those broken times in my marriage. Help me to respond in truth, and help me to still, in those times, first and foremost lean on Your love.”
But rather than asking for permission, I want to ask if you could give priority to your marriage. Make it your first love here on this earth. And as you sing this song, may you mean it, because the craving may very well tell you the lie that you can't be satisfied where you are without marriage, or with a broken, sometimes painful marriage. But the truth is that it always was, and it always will be, His unfailing love that truly satisfies.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV84.