Sunday, April 24, 2011
A sweet woman I adore started a cool thing that she shared with me and group of some ladies. Prayer stones. She gets stones and puts them all together out on a plate in her entry way so that guests can ask what they're about and so that she and her family can have constant reminders. On these stones she writes a word or short phrase to describe a prayer God has answered or a big move in her life He's made or a miracle or just something cool to remember that God's done. On the back of the stone she writes a number, and in a journal she writes the story down in detail. When the stone is read she hopes it jolts the memory of God's goodness and faithfulness, and the number serves to tell where to turn in the journal to read the full story. She gave each of us in the group our first bag of stones and told us to start doing the same thing. Our stones are out in our living room on a plate. I can't wait until I have too many stones to contain. God is so good.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
You know that empty feeling in your soul? That incessant hole in your heart that just won't go away. Like something with a dagger dipped in poison has stabbed away at your guts and now the poison burns fiercly at the edges? It throbs. It shoots piercing pain all the way into your brain and down to your feet. It can be debilitating. It can drive you deep into sorrow. So what can you do? Oh how you try to soothe yourself. You try lathering on a salve by engulfing yourself in friends, spouses, children. Or maybe it's fashion, beauty, shopping. Or working out, reading, eating, Facebook. Or maybe you try a shot to numb it... maybe it's drugs, alcohol, sex, or TV. All you know is, you need more of something. You have to kill this pain somehow. You need more of that thing that gives you the temporary happiness. Maybe you just need even more and more of it so it will sustain you longer next time. Maybe more love. More attention. More sweet kind words. More knowledge. More of the hobby that makes you happy. Better of something; everything. More money. Nicer house or car. More self-control. More more more... better better better... need need want want. The addicts, the self-destructive, the lonely, the depressed, the ones who give up and shut down and feel they can't do anything right... Is that you?
Something just needs to go your way for once. And then you'll be happy. Right? Something needs to change, and then you'll be happy? Something needs to improve, and then you'll feel better?
Can you notice a pattern? Noticable behavior, recordable data... heavy, colorful feelings and desires... in yourself and in others? Deep things you won't be very likely to share with very many people, if anyone. Yeah, those desires.
And that gut-wrenching feeling... yeah that one you can't handle... the one you'd do anything to keep away forever...
The one that can range from a day-to-day funk all the way to can't-get-out-of-bed draining, weakening, exhausting emptiness.
That's there to stay.
Because we were Made that way. Yes, God made you that way. He designed you to be an empty vessel that needs to be filled. Filled with what? Well, not with fashion, or stuff, or money, or sex, or alcohol, or music, or art, or friendships, or marriages, or kids or any amount of strength, character, experience or achievement. None of that will do it. None of that will sustain you for very long. It will always drain out the bottom. Something will go wrong. Someone will let you down. A tragedy will happen in your life. And what will you do then?
God designed us this way in order to make it impossible for us to live life in any way except fully dependent on Him. He made us with that nagging throbbing hole in our heart to entice us to come to him for fellowship and love and no one else. Nothing else. Every day. Him. He fills us. He loves us. He forgives, and accepts, and affirms, and strengthens, and defends us. And he designed it so that nothing else will do. At least not for long.
Take His hand. He's reaching out for you. Every moment of every day He's waiting for you to choose him. He can alleviate all your pain. He will inspire you to depths you didn't know existed. He will give you a life richer than you knew to be possible. He will redeem you. He will make you brand new.
God is alive and He is the Father of light. He will light up your life. He will make you a light. He will give you meaning and purpose and He will fill your heart. That hole is God-shaped. Only he can fill it. And you have to allow it.
So what do I do to ward off the horrible feelings, the dark thoughts, the sadness and lonliness, the temptations and tendencies to fall into bad ways? How do I manage to have any discernment in my words and actions? How do I pull off a completely full life with an overflowing heart of love? Only by God. Only because I choose to fellowship with my God. I read his Word - the Bible. I want to understand his heart and character. I desire to know him more every day. I endeavor to talk with him throughout my days fully dependent on him to guide my every step. I desire to trust him fully. I give him the reigns on my life. I die to myself not only daily, but moment by moment. Because I know I can be corrupted. I know my heart will lead me astray. But with God's spirit inside me, I can allow myself to be led. And he will lead me, fill me, and love me.
Besides reading the Bible and praying and going to church and fellowshipping with other Christians to keep the right perspective, one phrase I have found in the past couple weeks to be life-changing for me is...
God, I want to love you more than...
When I'm feeling hurt I think, "God I want to love you more than these hurt feelings." And it instantly changes my perspective and allows me to forgive the offender.
"God, I want to love you more than my husband." And I stop expecting too much of him; expecting him to do for me what only God can. Which causes bitter roots in our marriage.
"God, I want to love you more than my belongings." And I can let go of them with no problem. Sell them. Move in a new direction. Not fear a material tragedy.
"God, I want to love you more than being pretty." And I don't fret about a zit (or a bazillion). I stop desiring to spend money frivolously on fashion or false promises. I find my beauty in the way God made me, perfect in his design. No matter how I'm housed.
"God, I want to love you more than money." And I'm able to give with more joy. I'm able to be frugal with more joy. I'm able to appreciate what I have with more joy. I'm able to align my actions with the bigger picture.
"God, I want to love you more than my friends." And I stop expecting perfection from them. I stop fearing the loss of their friendship. I don't depend on them for what they're not designed to provide me. I take the pressure off of our friendship.
"God, I want to love you more than my family." And I let go of bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and hurt feelings. I don't fear old age. I don't fear death. I cherish each moment I'm given.
"God, I want to love you more than _________."
What will you fill the blank with?
When my thoughts start to go dark, and I feel my heart slipping into that searing pain once again, I think on this phrase. Then the door is opened like a floodgate and I can think on how God loves me. I can think on his promises. I can think about how he sings over me. How he wants to give me joy. Then I make a choice. Do I choose him? Or do I not?
I want to choose him.
God, I want to love you more. More than it all.