God’s Purpose in Disappointment

heart-light-on-bible

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

–Psalm 42:5-6a

It’s easy to feel defeated in the midst of life’s disappointments. To feel broken. Confused. Hopeless. Sad. Empty.

But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can discover God’s purpose even in the deepest of disappointments.

I’m finding that some of our deepest disappointments in life can actually be blessings… propelling us into a deeper peace and resiliency in the Lord as we seek the Lord’s wholeness instead of that tendency to feel empty.

It’s difficult.

But the Lord can heal our hearts if we seek Him.

I want to encourage you that it’s in this tender place of working through our disappointments with the Lord that we find a greater love with our Savior than ever before.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

–Psalm 42:1-2

I love the longing of the psalmist in these two verses of Psalm 42. The writer, who scholars credit to the Sons of Korah, don’t stop at declaring that they are thirsty for God. They go on to ask… When shall I come and appear before God?

They have an insatiable desire for the Lord that will not be satisfied until they see Him.

An unrivaled love.

A permanent longing.

How much longer till I can see God? I just want to see Him! I need to see Him! My whole existence needs to be with You Lord right now! The writer wants God more than anything. He compares it to the basic need for water: something a human cannot live without for survival. Thus, the writer affirms He cannot live without God for survival either. He needs Him. He needs God for survival.

Such zealous longing for the Lord and satisfaction in that longing is what I believe God wants for all of us.

God wants us to be in love with Him.

More than we love anything else.

Sometimes, this necessitates difficult trials in our lives such as disappointments that force us to re-prioritize other longings of our hearts, affirming the Lord as our #1 desire.

Wrestling with a deep disappointment in my own life, I’m starting to come full circle recognizing the good this has done in my heart. God has been using my disappointment to dig a deeper anchor of hope and love for my Savior. But it’s taken time and waiting on the Lord to do in my soul what I cannot do for myself.

As I work through my own disappointments with the Lord, I’m seeing how this lack of what I wanted is forcing me to seek the Lord in a brand new way.

A way I’ve never had to do before because I had never been disappointed like this.

I always sought the Lord because He was the best thing to me. The Lord has always been my love and my safe place and had never been rivaled before by any kind of stronger hope in my heart.

But once God saw that my heart started to want something more than Him, He had no other choice but to woo me back…

…And that called for disappointment.

Yes, disappointment.

Sometimes, God lets painful things happen to you to strengthen you and make your faith deeper rooted in Him.

I know that God let me be disappointed.

And my heart is now thankful. No longer resentful.

God needed me to experience the devastation that occurs when a heart wants something more than Him.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t want good things, relationships, blessings and so on… But it does mean that if I want those things more than I want God, I will never be healthy in love with the Lord the way I was designed to be.

When we hope in something to fill us and it doesn’t work out how we thought it would, we get disappointed.

And there’s an emptiness in that moment that beckons us for “more.”

And that “more” can only be found in Jesus.

My heart finally understands that God is worthy of possessing and keeping the top spot in my heart.

We can love others better when God has the top spot in our hearts…. because a healthy love relationship with the Lord teaches us what love is. And everyone around us will benefit from our healthy relationship with the Lord.

Learning by experience was the only way I could learn this lesson.

Hearing “Love God first,” and reading in the bible to “Love God first” was not going to make this resolute in my heart.

Something had to test my love for the Lord.

I had to wrestle with it in my own heart.

Experiencing what it feels like to not love God first and get hurt has trained me to never do this again because it’s too painful.

Now, I want to love God first.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of hosts. I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”

– Psalm 84:1-2

I have experienced the pain of loving something more than the Lord. And I now I have experienced the fullness of what it feels like to want God more.

God is very past-present-future-minded in how He uses such a devastating emotion like disappointment to actually propel us into a sustainable joy. God could easily let His hurt for how we’re hurting in the moment of our disappointment make Him call off the whole experience. And make it stop. He could hear our cries for deliverance and cries for healing and put an end to our journey of peace-through-disappointment. And make it stop. But He doesn’t. God looks into the future and sees how this hurt is only temporary; and how the peace, joy and rest we will obtain at the end of it will be worth all the pain of the disappointment.

Additionally, my love for God would never have been tested if I had never been exposed to something more desirable. Anyone can love God first when nothing else is rivaling that love. But once something comes along that makes you want it more than you want God, then your love for God is put to the test. This is what happened in my life.

God wants to test our love for Him. And test our faith in Him. To make it stronger!

 “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold –though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. S0 when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

1 Peter 1:7

Thanks be to God that He has grace on us through this refining process. So while we look away to something we see as more desirable, God waits on us while we navigate this unfamiliar terrain and is still there when we decide to return to the Lord who fills us.

“The Lord appeared to him from far away saying, I have love you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued to extend faithful love to you.”

Jeremiah 31:3

Friends, disappointment in your life is not a curse. It’s a blessing!

God has a purpose for your disappointment.

He has a purpose!

God did not allow a disappointment in your life to hurt you. God appointed that disappointment so that you may come to discover a deeper love with your Savior.

You may not see it yet.

But keep praying.

Keep pushing through the uncomfortableness.

Keep seeking Him in the weariness of how it feels to be disappointed.

God is the only one who can fix it.

God is the only One who can turn your sorrow into joy.

You cannot make it happen on your own.

But I guarantee He will do it!

As Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices pleasing to God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

All you need is a broken and surrendered spirit put in the hands of the Lord and He will restore your soul as you seek Him and patiently wait on Him to do it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

If we recall the greatest disappointment the world could ever know was when the Savior of the world was nailed to a cross. Killed. Dead. His mother, disciples and followers thought things were hopeless. Their Messiah was gone. Their hope lost. But then…they discovered their disappointment was only intended to endure for 3 days…for the Savior of the world had risen! He was alive! Their hope restored again! By the power of God. And they would live to tell of His works and miracles.

Disappointment turned to joy.

God had a purpose.

May your disappointments turn to joy and peace in the powerful working hands of the Lord. May He strengthen you in the time of waiting for your situation to be redeemed. I pray you would be refreshed by His spirit. And dependent on Him to heal your soul. Praise the Lord who woos us deeper in love with Him. And shows us the purpose in our disappointments. How amazing the lovingkindness of the Lord. Hallelujah.

 

“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:13b-14

 

Questions for Today:

  • What has disappointed me?
  • Do I want God to reveal His purpose to me regarding this disappointment?
  • How can I see God’s purpose in this disappointment as a means to draw me into deeper love with Him?
  • Why is important that I patiently wait on the Lord to redeem my disappointment?
  • Why does the Lord send difficult trials into our lives?
  • What is one step God is asking me to take in my relationship with Jesus today?

“Behold (Then Sings My Soul)” by Hillsong Worship

 

 

 

Stress and Frustration: The Accompaniments of Greatness

 

mountaintop

David was deemed “a man after God’s own heart” in 1 Samuel 13:14.

Yet reading through the psalms, we get to know David as a man who knew much frustration. Much agony. Much stress.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.” –Psalm 22:1-2

How interesting that one of the most powerful men in all of the land at this time, – David, the King of Israel – would be crying out to the Lord in such despair.

A couple weeks ago my kindergarten students took their first standardized math test.

Halfway through I started to hear sniffling then crying then bawling. One of my best students was very upset that he didn’t think his answer was correct and he wanted to quit the test. I couldn’t tell him that he actually clicked the right answer! All I could do was remind him he could do it and was doing an awesome job.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been so upset while striving towards a goal or calling that you want to quit before you accomplish it?

I can relate.

It’s so easy to doubt yourself.
To doubt your ability.
To doubt your competence.
To doubt your worth.

To struggle with the pressure of trying to be perfect.

The pressure that intensifies at very benchmark of success.

 

This student went on to score the highest score of all my students. Yet he was the only one displaying signs of stress and frustration, and wanting to quit.

Much like King David.

Much like so many men and women of God, both now and throughout history.

Yet this remains relevant to each one of us!

God has placed greatness and exponential potential inside of you. But the closer you get to reaching your goal, the more pressure you will experience.

Greatness is accompanied by heavy stress and frustration.

But ultimately, victory is just around the corner.

Peace is just around the corner.

Rest is just around the corner.

Recall the agony of David:

“Lord, how long will you continually forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?” –Psalm 13:1-2

Yet David learned to redirect his thoughts toward the God bigger than His agony.

The God bigger than his anxiety.

The God bigger than his stress.

The God bigger than his frustration.

By the end of the same psalm, David goes on to declare with confidence, “But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously.” –Psalm 13:5-6

And David kept going.

David did not give up.

Will you?

 

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

-James 1:2-4

 

Questions for Today:

  • Will you embrace the stress and frustration that accompanies greatness?
  • What is one thing you can do to redirect your focus on the Lord and off of your stress and frustration?
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with the Lord today?

 

“Every Line” by Newspring Worship

Singleness and The Sex Conundrum

puzzle pieces

There’s a real conundrum in the life of single people in Christianity. A sex conundrum. Yep. A sex conundrum.

The church doesn’t like to talk about it.

They pretend that people don’t struggle.

But singles in the church are struggling.

Most singles are experiencing the conundrum of sexual frustration or guilt and inability to be open about it in the Christian life.

The church will talk about sex when they have someone who’s already married and has a great testimony to share regarding their past. But never do we hear from any single person who is actually struggling with sexuality at the moment. I wish they would let that kind of person preach to the singles. That’s relatable.

Or they say broad generalizations like “singleness is a gift” and to just “wait for marriage” as if it’s easy as riding a bike. The church can make single people feel like it’s not okay to be sexual at all, when there is nothing that human beings can do about the way their bodies were designed by God.

I’ve heard so many sermons on singleness and dating and not once have I heard anyone talk about the difficulties of being single and wanting to have sex.

Single people in the church are really struggling.

At least I am.

And countless other people who I know.

And no one knows who to talk to about it.

I think someone needs to start talking about it.

So I guess I’m just dang crazy enough to talk about it. : -)

This isn’t meant to be a rant! I’m just trying to process this for my own self and I know lots of others who feel the same way about this. So I hope it helps to stir thought.

The human body was designed by God to be sexual. Not only does it contribute towards procreation but it builds intimacy between two people that is crucial to a marriage relationship. Without it, married people would find it challenging to cultivate lasting attachment and affection. It rekindles intimacy between two people and subconsciously primes those 2 people to need each other and belong to each other. Thus, fostering their overall relationship. God is really smart to have designed it.

The problem is that the same body designed for this kind of sexual intimacy with a marriage partner is the same body that experiences sexual desire and arousal at an age where marriage is not culturally accepted anymore.

So if I’m single and I have sexual feelings what am I to do with that?

I know what I could do with that. I can think of a lot of things I could do with that. That’s the problem.

The church tells me I’m supposed to wait. But how do I stop my body from feeling aroused when it feels aroused?

I’ve had people tell me to get over it.

I’ve had people tell me to go exercise.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not following God enough.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not reading my Bible enough.

Let me just say…Reading a bible verse is not the antidote to sexual arousal. It’s just not. If that works for you, then that’s great! Praise God. But I’ve never experienced that to work. I just haven’t.

All I know is I’m really trying to follow God… and I know I fail all the time and am far from where I need to be… but I’ve never felt closer in my relationship with God than I do right now…I go to seminary even…the most Christian environment I could be in…and yet, my sexuality plagues me more now than it ever has in my entire life.

Why is that?

Maybe it’s my age and my hormones.

Maybe it’s other things.

But it’s still an issue I have to deal with.

So what is the antidote to sexual arousal and sexual frustration?

If the Bible tells me that I’m supposed to restrain myself until marriage, what does God expect from me?

Let’s look at the 2 hypotheticals in the Christian life: Even if a person is to follow God to the best of their ability and restrain themselves from not having sex until marriage, that person will still experience the feelings of arousal and subsequent frustration from it. They can’t escape it. On the flip side, if a person gives in and has sex, that person will feel guilt when I don’t think God wants to shame us for something He created us to feel. There just isn’t a perfect path in this. It’s difficult for everyone. And I guess each person has to figure out how to handle their sexuality while asking for a lot of grace.

Look, I know what the Bible teaches about sex and I’ve heard it my whole life. But I’m just trying to think practically about this.

I’m not here to offer up a neat perfect answer… because I don’t think there is one.

But I do know that, as a single person, there is a difference between naturally being aroused and making yourself become aroused so that you can feel what you want to feel.

I’m not going to condemn anybody for anything because I know my own self and I have to deal with my own issues regarding it. So this should be left up to each person to think through in correlation with your own time with the Lord. We need to go to God about it because He’s the one that designed our bodies to begin with. I’m sure He has something that can help us. I hope so.

The only thing comforting is knowing that God gives endless grace in the midst of sexuality.

All those who want to condemn people for their sexuality must not be very akin to their own…because that is the MOST hypocritical thing you can do it to blast somebody else for their sexuality when we know 100% that you deal with it too.

Why?

Because you’re a human being with a pulse that’s why.

Please remember that you were saved from your sin just like anybody else. Read Ephesians 2:8-9.

The good think about being single is that is most definitely contributes to a person’s maturity.

God often uses one’s time while single to refine him or her and grow us spiritually.

God does a lot in our hearts.

It’s true.

But we really need to be careful about saying “singleness is a gift.”

That is dangerous to say.

Saying singleness is a gift pretends that there are no difficulties accompanying one’s singleness.

When in fact, there are many difficulties – sex being one of them.

Singleness can be one of the most difficult phases of life.

But singleness is just a season for most.

It’s a season of life where you learn necessary and crucial lessons that you need to know before you can enter the next season of life.

And those lessons can be gifts.

Sure.

But I would be hesitant to call singleness in itself as a gift.

Rather, it’s more like preparation.

I like to look at it this way → it’s like going to get your hair done at the salon…it’s exciting and thrilling while you sit there in the salon chair. You watch the stylist while she works and you know she knows what she’s doing…that’s comforting…but what you’re really excited for is the finished product when you get to see what your hair looks like when’s it all done. But you still have to wait and sit in the salon chair and see hair fall and see the scissors cutting and you worry if it’s really going to look good when she’s all done. But when she’s done you don’t stay there in the chair. You take off the smock and you leave and you go on with your life. You weren’t meant to stay in the salon chair. It was just preparation for the final product.

So it is with seasons of singleness.

Or any other season of life.

Because, ultimately, all of life here on earth is really one big preparation for the return of Christ…the wedding supper of the Lamb…with His bride, the church.

God is working in your heart and my heart and He has things He needs to do to prepare us.

For some people, marriage happens sooner and that in itself can be preparation, which has been discussed in much of the feedback I received after publishing this blog. So I have edited this section.

My friend Jacob Jones with some great insight said this,

“I would say that the one thing I have a hard time with is the idea of singleness as preparation. It definitely helps some people to think of it that way, and it did for me at one point, so I think it’s a good perspective–just not the only conceivable one you could take. For me, when it started to sink in that marriage might not happen at all, and that people a lot younger and more impulsive than me get to be “prepared” for later life THROUGH their marriages, I started to experience some dissonoance with the idea that singleness is preparing me for something, as if God is holding out on letting me be married until I’m “ready.”

“Now, I acknowledge that the present is ALWAYS preparation for the future, but it is also what we’ve been given NOW. That frustration and pain we experience is definitely not fair, definitely not good or right, but in a Gestalt sense, the whole story of my-life-in-this-moment is good. Every instant is a complicated tapestry of joy and pain. The way God works in me through that pain is good–even though He could just as easily teach me the same lessons through joy. Why does He choose to give some of us more pain in certain seasons? I don’t think we’ll ever get the answer to that. But He is definitely good, and He is wise, and He is glorifying Himself, and we can feel great about that.

“It also helps me to think about sexual tension as a natural part of the human experience–nothing to be embarrassed about. Pain is so much less potent when you don’t resent it.”

I thought his words were too good to not include here. Thank you, Jacob.

It seems that God does very specific things through each person when it comes to singleness and marriage. Each of us has our own story and our own process of growth over our lifetime. I’m glad God is in charge of it all.

And marriage is of course a big step of faith and cultivates faithfulness and loyalty in a person that is very necessary in God’s process of making us into His image in this life.

And no matter when marriage happens for 2 people, it’s going to be a lifetime of learning and growing in the Lord.

Especially in sex, as well.

James Hibbs, another friend of mine gave some great feedback regarding sex and marriage saying this,

“People get married, and things are great, and they even have some awesome sex. Then one partner is feeling aweful, has a bad day, gets stressed out and upset, or is seriously ill. The healthy happy partner is just going to probably be doing without the awesome sexual experiences, maybe for a long time…”

Thanks for your thoughts, James. Great input. Especially relevant to real life and reminding us to love one another above ourselves like it talks about in Philippians 2:1-11. Sometimes we have to sacrifice what we want out of care and concern for the one we love and their well-being.

Marriage surely fuels those 2 individual’s spiritual growth. And teaches us what it looks like to love someone like Christ loves us. How beautiful is that.

Now there are some people who choose a life of singleness because it’s what they want – and for them, they would say singleness is a gift.

That’s great.

I’m glad for them.

But that is that person’s assessment of their own singleness.

And we can’t use that as a theological precedent for other people.

However, I do not believe that God gives certain people “gifts of singleness.” I just don’t. I believe people choose that lifestyle on their own based on their own life experience and their desires.

This is why I believe this: Paul is the one everybody cites as support for the “gift of singleness” argument because he said it’s better to be like him (i.e single) in 1 Corinthians 7:8, after he became a follower of Christ. However, it is likely Paul was married at one time, since he wanted to be a member of the Sanhedrin (Galatians 1:14) which required a member to be married. Scholars have suggested he became a widower just before his conversion. But we are forgetting one VERY important experience of the apostle Paul → he saw Jesus Christ in person!!!! Are you serious!!! If any one of us had seen the risen Lord in person, I’d say we would be fine with being single too!! Nothing would compare after seeing Jesus in person. And Paul was so on fire with a mission that God gave him to reach the gentiles that marriage at his age became not as important and that boldly comes out in his writing. This is Paul’s story. Not yours. Not mine. No one else will see the risen Lord on the road to Damascus the way Paul did and so be sent to preach to 1st century gentiles. So I think using Paul as basis for this “gift of singleness” theology is just not appropriate.

God gives everybody a choice when it comes to finding a marriage partner and if someone defers that choice then that’s, again, their own choice.

And God is kind to let us choose.

Any season of life, whether single, married, widower not anything else is ALWAYS used by God to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

Christ will use that time in your life to prepare you, draw you closer to Him, teach you wisdom and use you to help other poeple.So I have to learn to be okay with singleness right now because of the preparation it is doing for my heart.

And I’ve seen God really soften my heart over the past year. I wouldn’t want to be who I was a couple years ago. I didn’t know how to relate to people very well. I didn’t know how to show emotion or affection. I was not open whatsoever. I would never have written a post like this back then! No way. I was very guarded and insecure. God has blown that up over the past year. And it’s hurt like hell. But I’m very glad. I’m very thankful for how God is changing me. I feel like I can finally be myself and I’ve never felt more free and joyful.

So all in all, this is what I have come to in my thoughts about singleness and the sex conundrum. I still have a lot to process and each person has their own unique thoughts and experiences to bring to the table in this kind of topic. But I know that I’m going to keep fighting this fight as best I can and ask the Lord to help me when I’m weak.

God’s kindness towards us to give us a pass and help us in the midst of this conundrum is called grace. Receive it. Ask Him to help you.

I believe God is very personal.

So there is no 1 answer to this issue of sexuality.

Talk to God about it.

Talk to others.

Ask God to help you with this problem in relation to where you are at in life and what steps can be taken.

I pray for everyone and your sexuality, that God would help you and that you would know God does care and He knows it’s difficult. He’s not here to condemn you. He made you to be sexual for a reason. And He loves you no matter what. I pray God would give us strength to follow Him in a way that is honoring to Him and when we are weak, that He would give us grace. Praise God for His kindness towards us.

 

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Questions for Today:

  • How am I struggling in my sexuality?
  • Do I have anybody I can talk to about it?
  • Why is it important to believe that God is a personal God?
  • Do I believe that God cares about my sexual frustration and/or guilt?
  • Am I willing to always receive God’s grace and believe that He wants to help me?

 

Seasons of Life

seasons

Life is full of seasons.

Seasons of health.
Seasons of sickness.
Seasons of pressure.
Seasons of ease.
Seasons of excitement.
Seasons of disappointment.
Seasons of joy.
Seasons of despair.
Seasons of contentment.
Seasons of frustration.

These seasons, or cycles, of good and bad perpetuate in my life. And I’m starting to see that it’s the case for others as well.

Seasons that cultivate happiness and joy are a wonderful part of life.

I’ve experienced seasons where I felt content in the Lord, not needing anything but Him. Feeling full of peace and free from anxiety…

But as soon as I start to experience the consistency of a season of contentment, God allows difficulties into my life.

Why would God do that?
Why would God allow me to be jolted out of a season of contentment?

Wouldn’t He want me to remain content in Him?

It’s got me thinking…
There must be something in my season of contentment that is not pleasing to God.

There must be something in me that God needs to change.

And that can only be done through allowing difficulties into my life.

Thus, God ushers me into a more challenging season.

Philippians 1:6 says this:

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God is doing a work in you and I.

And that involves work in our hearts, souls, and minds because those are the parts of us that controls us.

So maybe difficult seasons are necessary to overall contentment, because God is maturing my heart, soul and mind.

Why?

Because I discover significantly more about God, about myself, about others, and about the world when I’m in a season of difficulty than I do in a season of temporal contentment.

God wants me to reach eternal contentment…in Him. And that is not possible now. But one day it will be. When we see Christ, we will have eternal, permanent contentment in the Lord and His work in us will be complete (Revelation 21-22).

So seasons are necessary.

But it’s hard to transition out of one season to the next.

Whether it’s transitioning to a season that’s comforting or transitioning to a season that’s challenging, the change in itself can frighten me.

*If I’ve been experiencing a season of happiness and contentment… and then I enter into a season of trials… I can get really overwhelmed and discouraged in that transition…

It takes me a while to receive what God is wanting to teach me and be happy about it, because of my own fleshly disappointment about what’s not going my way.

*If I’ve been experiencing a season of difficulty and depression… then I enter into a season of relief and comfort from the Lord… I can feel very skeptical and cynical at first…

It takes me a while to receive God’s invitation to find rest in Him, because of my own fleshly disbelief that anything good could happen now.

So the transition between seasons of life can almost be the hardest part in our growth with the Lord.

Because our flesh comes out in that moment of uncertainty and confusion.

And our trust in God is tested.

And we really have to depend on Him by the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:6 is one of my favorite verses. It says this,

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.

And as we transition into a new season, we are forced to cling to the Holy Spirit for comfort and guidance because we have no way of knowing where God is taking us.

So it’s in the transition that we go to a deeper level with God.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a good season/bad season transition, or a bad season/good season transition…

Both seasonal transitions test our faith in God.

Both test our allegiance to Him.

And in the transition God teaches us something new and remarkable that we never would have been able to learn had we not been in that initial season to begin with.

Because as we look back, we gain something like 20/20 vision and our former season of life all the sudden makes sense and becomes meaningful.

Necessary actually.
It becomes necessary.
So seasons of life are necessary.
Seasons of life are unavoidable.

We cannot remain in one season of life forever.

It’s inevitable that things will change.

So how do we deal, though, in the middle of a less than favorable season?

Sure, everyone loves the season of peace and blessings…

But how do we cope in a season of difficulty?
How do we make it until we get out?
Maybe it’s not about “making it until we get out.”

Maybe it’s about letting that season run its course.

And letting God be in control of it.

As long as He wants it to last.

I’m trying to ask the Lord from now on to reveal beauty to me within a season of difficulty. 

For me I’ve been experiencing a very low season of life, which has got me thinking a lot about the ups and downs we face.

It’s been a season of discouragement, crisis of purpose, and questions of why am I here. Confusion about what God is doing plagues me almost every day. And I’ve never been more restless in my relationship with the Lord as I have in the past few months. Anxiety and pressure of everything in my life made me feel so overwhelmed that I started skipping classes. I didn’t know how to handle the way I was feeling. And I don’t like feeling that way. I don’t like feeling out of control of myself and my emotions. It got so bad that by October I stopped going to all my classes but 1. I stopped turning in my assignments. I wanted to drop out. I didn’t want to be in seminary anymore. And I will have to face the consequences of that. So I decided to change my program but I still feel discouraged about it. I just don’t know what God wants from me.

But God has used this time to really grow my dependency on Him in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

God needed to work on my soul in a lot of areas.

God needed to rip a lot of things out of me and make me deal with issues.

God needed to humble me.

God needed to remind me who He is to me.

God needed to show me how futile my life is in light of His holiness.

God needed to teach me a lot.

And I’m very thankful for His grace on me in that. But it’s hard experiencing a low season.

I feel like a complete failure.

And I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with my life. Now I fear that this season will never end yet I’m scared about what the next season may bring. I don’t really know how to feel. I have no idea what God is doing.

Yet I believe God allowed this season in my life for a purpose. 

I’m very thankful for what He’s taught me.

So I’m not going to keep exhausting myself trying to escape this season anymore. I need to let God leave me in the place He wants me for however long He wants. For I know that He is changing my heart for the better. And I pray He will strengthen me in the moments I’m weak.

I’m seeing now how God weaves together all the seasons of life we experience to grow us, humble us, prepare us, and pour out wisdom into our lives.

And through that, we will start to appreciate the difficult seasons.

For we learn so much more in the difficult season than we do in the easy season.

God is so smart to paint seasons here in this world.

It’s beautiful in nature.

But it’s more beautiful reflected in our lives.

Things grow in season…
die in season…
regenerate in season…
bloom in season…
…So it is with the way God cultivates the hearts of His people.

John chapter 15 says if we remain in Christ, we will bear fruit in season.

In SEASON. Not before season. Not after season. But IN season.

And each season has certain fruit God wants to produce in you.

Whether it’s humility, openness, confidence, trust, faith, generosity, discipline, surrender, etc…

…different seasons bring along unique experiences, lessons and challenges that God uses to produce fruit in us.

Despite your season of life, you will be GLAD once you see how God has changed you for the better!

So if you are discouraged right now in a difficult season, know that it won’t last forever.

Something is dying, yes, but He will regenerate the seed He planted.

Let Him.

God is good at growing things.

For He is the One in charge of seasons. He is in charge of everything. And His desire is to grow you and make you into His image.

Let Him.

I pray for you that God would remind you how actively involved He is in your life and how intentional He is about growing you into His beautiful son or daughter. I pray that you would find meaning in whatever season you are in. I pray we would all ask God to reveal to us boldly by His Spirit all that He is doing in our lives to implant wisdom and prepare us for what’s next. May we find joy in all the various seasons of life. For our God is at work. And He is good at what He does. Thank You, God, for Your kindness to move in our lives.

“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

-2 Corinthians 3:18-

Questions for Today:

  • What does God want to teach me in this season of life I’m in right now?
  • How does God use seasons in our lives to grow us in maturity? to prepare us?
  • As I look back on my life, how do I see God’s hand at work through various seasons of my past?
  • Why is it difficult to transition between one season to the next?
  • How can I appreciate the seasons of life that God allows into my life?

“Shine A Light” by Elevation Worship

 

 

You’re Not Meant to Fit In

crayons

You’re not meant to fit in.

You’re not meant to be like everyone else.

There’s a unique design on the palm of your hand and in the ripples on the pads of your fingers that reminds you that you are created by God to be you.

To be you.

Please believe it.

I wish I had believed it sooner.

But I haven’t always believed that.

I’ve been looking for a place to “fit in.”

Just before I came to seminary, so many people at my undergrad college told me not to come here because I wouldn’t fit in. Looking back on it I see how the enemy was trying to keep me away from where God was leading, but I was very disoriented at the time.

“You’ll hate it,” they said.

“You won’t fit in,” they said.

“You’ll be outta there within 2 weeks,” they said.

I had a mentor at Furman named Dr. Nix, my senior religion teacher, who gave me some really good advice about graduate school. I really enjoyed hearing his wisdom and so I was on my way to meet with him one day as we had planned. But when I arrived, the Chair of the religion department was in his office. She said she wanted to talk. She went on to say she was worried that I was considering attending DTS. She went on to list reason after reason for which I was not cut out to go there. She said it wasn’t the place for me. She said I wouldn’t fit in. She said I shouldn’t go there. She said I should go to Duke Divinity School, the other school I was considering.

So I decided I would go to Duke instead.

I figured she was right and that and I would “fit in” there.

Graduation announcements went out and plans were being arranged.

But then it all fell apart.

I went to Duke for a pre-orientation day that April and I clashed pretty heavily with a professor there who was hating on contemporary worship and mega churches in a lecture. I was fuming. I asked him about what he was saying and we went back and forth. This went on about 10 minutes and everyone in the room was on his side. I was livid. I grabbed my free boxed lunch and left never to return. Probably shouldn’t have handled it that way, but at the time I just did.

After some prayer and guidance from my family, I decided I couldn’t go to Duke anymore and that I would go to DTS. I was excited to move to Dallas since I really did love it when I visited earlier that spring, but I was so scared about my decision.

The first few months of seminary began and it was very tumultuous for me.

Many nights I fell asleep while googling Duke Divinity’s transfer requirements thinking I should leave and just go there in the spring.

I didn’t feel like I fit in at DTS.

But God began to show me godly men and women here at DTS that have revealed to me the beauty and goodness of this place.

And I began to make friends. I began to really love my church. I began to appreciate DTS.

I began to enjoy it.

But this semester, all of those fears came back.

And I’ve been very discouraged about my purpose for being in seminary.

So much in my life has hit all at once. And I feel like God is changing everything I thought I would do with my life. Now I don’t know why I’m here in seminary and if it’s worth it.

I have wanted to drop out of seminary every single day for the past several weeks.

Anytime I get discouraged about being in seminary I think back to what that teacher at Furman said to me.

And I feel defeated.

“You won’t fit in there, Natalie.”

And I start to believe her again.

And it has caused me a great deal of anxiety.

Maybe she was right.

Maybe I don’t fit in here.

Maybe I shouldn’t have come.

I’m not the seminary type.

But the one thing I find myself drawn to is chapel.

I love chapel. I wish I could get course credit for attending it. I can’t get enough of worship and hearing the Word preached. Then one day last week I went to chapel and I got frustrated. As I listened to the sermon, I was very confused and startled at what he was preaching, most of which I didn’t agree with or believe was theologically accurate. I felt so angry and fearful all over again.

The one place I always feel at peace became a place of confusion.

I was so discouraged after.

I just wanted to scream!

A flood of all those insecurities started washing over me again. This really isn’t the place for me, I thought. What am I doing here!? I shouldn’t be here. I clash with this place. I’m getting in debt for nothing. I don’t fit in here.

I’ve had to come to a hard realization: not everybody is going to see things the way I do.

I can’t expect for everyone to agree with me.

I can’t everyone to have the same philosophies as me.

I can’t expect to not get offended.

I can’t expect for everyone to like me.

I can’t even expect to learn in a place where I don’t question things.

Even if I went to that other school, I still would have clashed with people just like I did when I went on the pre-orientation day. So in both places, I have run into opposition. DTS and Duke could not be any more different, yet I have personally clashed with both in similar ways.

So I am the one who needs to embrace the inevitability of opposing viewpoints in life.

Clashing with ideas is just inevitable.

So many people have different perspectives and different backgrounds that influence the way they think about things.

We all see things uniquely.

We all come from different places.

We’re not meant to be the same.

And sometimes, that means we will be misunderstood.

I used to be petrified of being misunderstood by others.

I’m the type of person that really hates to feel like I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. So when I feel misunderstood, it’s usually in connection with the fear that I’ve hurt their feelings. And when I feel that way, it is one of the most painful feelings that I experience in life. I would rather someone hurt me bad than for me to feel like I’ve hurt somebody else. So in feeling misunderstood and like I’ve hurt somebody’s feelings, I’ve had to realize that I can’t be in control over another person’s feelings. I can’t make someone understand me any more than I can make them eat a whole box of Krispy Kreme donuts under 2 minutes! It just ain’t gonna fly. Except back up and out their mouth. But that’s a whole mental image we do not need right now : )

So I have to learn how to be okay with the potential of being misunderstood.

Because for me, it’s inevitable.

I am a very passionate person who likes to express how I feel.

The only way I can get through life without being misunderstood is if I just stop talking and speaking up.

But I can’t do that.

I’m not wired to stay silent.

I wouldn’t be able to function that way.

I would go insane.

So God is teaching me how to embrace the uncomfortable feeling of being misunderstood.

This is something that I’ve needed to learn for a long time.

Because it happens to me a lot.

And it is really helping me to embrace my own identity, because I’m realizing that it is paralyzing for me to care more about what other people think of me than I do about what God thinks of me.

God knows our hearts.

And we have to let that be enough.

Now I see.

I’m not meant to fit in.

You are not meant to fit it.

Be you.

Be who you are.

Even if the people around you don’t understand you.

God knows you.

He sees your heart.

He sees your motives.

He understands you.

He gets you.

I’m not worrying anymore about feeling like I don’t fit in.

For too long, I’ve let this insecurity keep me stuck.

I’ve let it keep me from being me.

I’ve let it keep me from moving forward.

I’ve let it almost allow me to give up on the place God has me.

If I don’t fit in, then so be it.

Maybe God doesn’t want me to be like everybody else.

Maybe God doesn’t want you to be like everyone else either!

Maybe God wants you to be you!

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite psalms. Verses 13-16 says this:

“For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

We need to all be different because in that variety, we can learn from each other.

So I’m finding that it’s okay to be me.

I’m finally allowing myself to be myself.

There’s no point in trying to fit some seminary student mold that I just can’t fit into.

I’ve already tried it for a year now and it doesn’t work for me no matter how hard I try.

So if you’re struggling to feel like you have to be someone you’re not just to please other people, please know that you don’t have to do that!

It’s okay to be you!

The real you!

I used to think that if people got to know the real me that they would think I wasn’t godly enough and look down upon me, and so I would hide certain parts about me that I thought weren’t “Christian” enough.

And it has been the most crippling mentality ever.

For too long I was paralyzed by my own fear of what others thought about me and my level of spiritual maturity. So I would refrain from doing what might make me look “less godly” in the eyes of other Christians.

I can’t listen to that music like I used to or they will think I’m not godly, I would think.

I can’t go watch that movie or they will think I’m not godly.

I can’t go to that place or they will think I’m not godly.

I can’t defend that philosophy or they will think I’m not godly.

I can’t talk that way or they will think I’m not godly. On and on and on this can go.

I’ve been acting this way ever since I’ve been here and after the past few months of God taking me to a really really low place in my life, I just don’t care anymore about what anyone thinks about me.

And God has used that to free me.

By gosh I’m going to be myself now. I’m tired of trying to be somebody I’m not. Especially when I really am trying to know God and follow Him more. I mess up every single day and feel like a failure constantly but I’m not playing the Christian morality game anymore. It’s a losing game. So I’m just looking to the Lord now and what He thinks about me.

Look to God for the affirmation you desire.

Don’t worry about what others think.

Don’t worry about fitting in.

God made you that way for a reason.

He always understands you.

He always gets you.

He always accepts you.

And He wants you to be different. Don’t suppress who you are out of fear that someone else may misjudge you. If they do, then so be it. You be you. And let God take care of the rest. Who knows. Maybe someone out there needs what you have to share and they can only receive that if you are willing to be you! So find relief, my friends, in the freedom of your unique identity. The world needs you. May you not forget that.

I pray that we will find comfort in who we are to God. I pray that God will refresh us by His Holy Spirit so that we might be captivated by Him and so in love with Him. May we find beauty in our differences of opinions. May we help each other learn through our strengths and weaknesses. I pray that God will continue to paint a beautiful mosaic of humanity that contributes in various, unique ways to His kingdom. Thank You, God, for how You have created each one of us. And may we love one another for how You’ve created us. May we cherish one another in appreciation of Your creation. Thank You for being our God.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”

– 1 Corinthians 3:16-17-

Questions for Today:

  • What keeps me from being myself around other people?
  • Do I fear what others think about me?
  • How can I elevate what God thinks about me above what others think about me?
  • Why should I embrace the uncomfortable feeling of being misunderstood?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“Love On The Line” by Hillsong Worship ft. Aryel Murphy

Halloween, Love, and Strip Clubs

club red

People want love. And nightlife offers it. Or so we think. There’s an enchantment to nightlife. Glimmer. Attraction. Allure. It can pull you in like a magnet. And grab you before you realize you’re taken.

Halloween landed this weekend so me, my roommate and friends went out.

Strolling through uptown with cars barely inching their way forward through the crowded street, people in costumes were all lining the sidewalks waiting to get into the bars and dance clubs. Music sounding into the night autumn air and the desire for this thing called “living” manifesting itself in all kinds of enchanting ways. So it seems.

The lines were long and so we walked around the streets, looking at all the fun costumes.

And then I started to remember an experience I had several years ago.

An uncomfortable experience.

An experience I’ll probably never forget but has stirred my empathy concerning this whole nightlife scene.

Several years ago in 2009 I travelled back to Prescott Valley, Arizona to visit my friends.

It was their graduation night from Bradshaw Mountain High, the school I went to before I moved away to North Carolina, and my friend Hattie told me they had been planning a getaway to Phoenix. She said we would go that night after everyone was asleep and that her uncle would be driving us.

Being the naïve self that I was at 18 years old I thought, cool, yeah let’s go.

We took a short nap and then around 11pm, Hattie told me we were leaving.

She told me to bring my ID.

We got ready and us three girls slipped out the door with her uncle, getting into his truck to go up to Phoenix. (As I look back on it, I don’t see how I was so blind to let someone I didn’t even know drive me and my friends to Phoenix in the middle of the night. Just shows how easy it is for adolescent minds to get into problematic situations. If you’re a parent, have some compassion on your kids when they get into trouble.)

We cranked up the music in his truck and Hattie, being her usual comical self, couldn’t stop laughing and cutting up the entire way up there.

Then Hattie told me where we were going.

She said we were going to a club.

A club?, I thought, I can’t go to a…club? hmmm, well, this is their graduation and nobody’s around to tell me not to and her uncle’s with us, so it should be okay.

I was getting kind of excited as we got closer and closer to Phoenix, passing through Cordus Junction, then Black Canyon, then Anthem, then Mesa.

Then we arrived.

As we pulled in the parking lot, I noticed it was all men walking in.

A sign that read Le Girls was overhead. We walked inside and the guys at the front asked to see our ID’s. There was a cover charge but her uncle paid it and we were led inside to some chairs that were circling around a platform where one of many girls were dancing provocatively.

I was shocked. I realized what was happening.

No wonder he was so willing to drive us up there in the middle of the night and then pay for the cover charge and any drinks we wanted.

He had brought us to a strip club.

And there were naked and almost-naked ladies everywhere.

Platforms were scattered around, as the ladies were dancing with tall high heels.

I was so shocked that he had brought us there.

I didn’t understand why we were there but I didn’t know what to do.

Youth group never prepared me for the “friend’s uncle takes you and your friends to a strip club” experience.

And Hattie, being the jokester she is, just could not stop laughing.

Me and Jessica just sipped on our Shirley temples.

We sat there awkwardly while looking around the room at all this bewilderment around us.

The men sitting in the chairs watching the girls dance were looking at us, probably wondering why 3 teenage girls were in a strip club for men.

Then I saw the face of the man sitting to the left of me.

He was a middle aged man, probably in his late 30’s with a wad of cash in his hand. He was throwing dollar bills on the platform right in front of where he was sitting so that the girl on our platform would come over to him.

His face was like stone.

He wouldn’t make eye contact with her.

There was no emotion in his face even though she was dancing for him.

I thought it was strange that he looked so sad and empty.

He didn’t look all mesmerized by the lady who was getting pretty sensual in front of him.

But he kept throwing dollar bills.

Every time she walked away he would start to throw more and motion for her to come back.

I didn’t understand it because he didn’t look all happy and giddy like the other men from how she was dancing for him.

But he wouldn’t let her leave.

He kept throwing more money and more money.

He wanted her to stay with him.

He wanted her to choose him.

He wanted to be loved by her.

But he didn’t feel loved.

He looked empty.

And my heart was breaking for him.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more broken for someone in my whole life as I did in that moment.

God gave me compassion that night.

Compassion for that man in the strip club.

I saw brokenness on his face that I had never seen before.

No amount of pleasure was enough for him.

Ever since then, the way I look at the whole nightclub/strip club scene is very different.

What I see is this:

Going to the strip club is not the root problem here…

People are really hurting inside.

At root, it’s about people feeling unloved and in search of love that they lack.

At root, it’s about people feeling empty and in search of something that will fill them.

But it never does.

We left and drove back to Prescott Valley that night. And Hattie’s family ended up finding out the next day that he had taken us up there to the strip club. More than anything though, my heart hurts for that man I saw, for Hattie’s uncle that took us, and for anyone who goes to a strip club. I wish I could make all this pain in the world stop so that we wouldn’t need to run to it.

Do I think it’s okay to go to a strip club?

Of course not.

But that’s not the point.

We need to understand why people go there in the first place.

People just want to be loved. They want to give love. They want to feel something. Even if it’s just in the moment. And nightlife offers that. It offers a place where humans can feel those things immediately. We are broken people who need love and life so bad. And when sin is present, a person can give in to all kinds of sinful things. It shouldn’t be any surprise.

Sexual sin seems to simmer as a result of not feeling loved and consequently searching for a way to satisfy that sexual hunger ourselves.

But we can’t do that.

We have to find a way to let God satisfy that longing for love that we feel.

And sometimes it’s hard, because I don’t always feel loved by God in a strong, immediate way like I do when someone gives me attention.

So I have to ask myself… what is true? What is real love? This feeling that I have?? Or the truth that God is beyond my feeling???

I don’t have all the answers to this problem. I really don’t.

But I do know that we need the real, tangible love of Jesus.

And no, not on a tract! Tracts are lazy evangelism!

We need to love people well.

Be a friend.

Care for people’s souls.

Because if we’re honest, we all have the same heart issue that could make us the one inside that strip club.

We are all sinners before God.

Whether you’re a guy or a girl…doesn’t matter. We all want love and when we feel broken and needy of what we don’t have, I think you know what your body is capable of. I don’t have to tell you that. I know I don’t have to tell myself. We all indulge in sexual sin that is just as equally offensive to God. And we need to have compassion on one another so that the love of God can catalyze a desire for change.

I want to look at the nightlife scene through the lens of compassion. I know I struggle with heavy sins too.

So I pray that we will stop cursing the strip club and start loving those inside it.

Love them towards Christ.

What does that look like?

What about this…

-There’s a man who set up a coffee truck in the parking lot of a strip club.

People would pull in to go in the strip club and he would serve them coffee outside.

For free.

He would make lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, anything they wanted. Every night around 10pm he would set up shop and stay until the wee hours of the morning. He would play music and set up chairs for people to sit. He would talk to them and ask them about their day. He would talk to the girls that worked at the strip club asking them about their life outside of work and about their families. For a year he did this. After a while, he knew the names of all the strip club employees and the men who frequented. He also knew their stories. He knew what was going on in their lives.

He had been praying for them.

They would ask him why he gave his coffee for free.

He would always answer the same: “It’s cold outside and I figured you might need a cup of coffee.”

This man gets it.

He knows how to love well. He never condemned them for their involvement in the strip club. He knows that if he wants to gain their respect and trust, he has to meet a physical need first. And being a cold windy city, especially at night, he thought free coffee might be a good way to start relationships with the people going in and out of the strip club. A way to show them the love of Christ.

And soon, all of the men and the girls, who worked there, started to ask him how he pays for the coffee.

He would always answer the same: “God provides it.”

“God provides it?”, they would ask.

They didn’t understand why God would provide coffee for them since they were living a lifestyle that the “church” would condemn.

But the man said that God didn’t condemn them.

He said, “God wants you to be warmed and told me to give you coffee.”

Soon, all of these men and women started to ask him more and more about God and almost the whole staff of the strip club ended up coming to know Jesus. Now that would be an amazing story. That’s what it looks like to love well.-

I pray we will love one another without condemnation. I pray we will ask God to draw people to Himself through gentleness and compassion. I pray that we will realize that we are all hurting human beings and we all are filthy before God. We are all sinful and disgusting in His sight without Jesus taking our place. We all need the same grace. God, may Your Spirit fall and show people what Your love feels like. Give us Your real love, God. Lord, help us to love one another just as You have loved us, in tender kindness and consistent love. No matter what.Thank You for Your compassion on us.

 

“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.”

-1 John 4:11-

Running Out of Numbing Solution: When Nothing in Life is Enough

emptiness

This has really been a tough season for me in so many different ways. I’ve never felt as low as I do right now, but I’ve never reached a greater epiphany than I have the past several days.

For the first time in my life, I’m experiencing what this whole theology of God being enough actually means.

I never believed it before.

Of course I would never say that out loud though.

God forbid I would actually share with someone that I don’t feel like God is enough.

But it’s real.

When I’m really honest with myself, I don’t think I’ve ever felt what it’s like for God to be enough for me.

Sure I try to make myself believe that He is.

I never directly think, God, You’re not enough for me.

My thoughts are much more clever and deceitful than that. My thoughts get me to trust in a feeling over what I know. I’ll think, Hmmm, maybe I’ll indulge in that and it will make me feel better. All the while, God is far from my mind in that particular moment of pleasure- indulgence.

It’s as if I’m saying, God might be enough…but if I had God and that then life would just be perfect.

I’ve been living with this mindset: God = happiness. But God + what I want = ecstatic happiness.

Uh oh.

This mindset is just not right.

I’ve never been convicted over it until now.

Inadvertently, my flesh has been tricking my mind into a pattern of running to something else in addition to God to make me feel better; therefore priming me to assume that God, by Himself, is not enough for me.

Even in my deepest moments or seasons of satisfaction in the Lord, I find myself running to pleasures that I just want to run to.

I can know everything there is to know about theology and the Bible, but if I feel a certain way, no amount of knowledge can change that. It just can’t. And I’m going to have to figure out a way to let my knowledge inform my feeling.

And for the past couple weeks I’ve been feeling really down.

I keep trying to medicate my feelings with things that usually make me feel better.

But this week has been difficult.

Something happened that has never happened quite as strongly before. It’s as if everything that I run to to make me feel better doesn’t work anymore.

This has never happened. Even in the past when I realize that something isn’t really enough there’s always something else. Or I end up going back to it again hoping that it will deliver like I want it to.

But this time, I can’t find anything to run to.

It’s all leaving me empty.

I have nothing anymore to numb my anxiety, my worry, my pain, to absolve myself of this emptiness I feel.

I’m running out of numbing solution.

Things that make me feel better. For me, it can be daydreaming, music, movies, busyness, lust, isolation, food, escaping… the list can go on and on.

But everything I’ve ran to over the past week hasn’t worked.

I keep having this thought: “…okay…what now? What did that solve?”

It didn’t fix my brokenness.

It didn’t heal me like I thought it would.

The weight of the brokenness of my life and the brokenness of this world is upon me right now. There’s so much pain here. So many people who need help. So many situations that just shouldn’t be. So many catastrophes in this world that don’t make sense. I see now that this life is not meant to satisfy me or anyone for that matter.

What’s the point of it all?

What is meant to satisfy us?

So I had an epiphany.

And while it has helped me drastically today, it also has potential to be depressing. So I have to make sure I articulate it correctly.

I’ve been looking at my life all wrong.

I keep looking for ways to satisfy myself.

Maybe that’s not the point.

Maybe I need to let go of that expectation to be satisfied.

Why?

Because I don’t have the fullness of what it’s like to have God be enough for me right now since I still live on the broken side of eternity.

I can’t get the full effect of what it’s like for God to be enough for me and be satisfied in Him right now in this life.

I have no clue what that will mean or what it will feel like.

Life is a constant reminder of what I don’t have. My body tells me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My mind tells me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My emotions tell me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My circumstances tell me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My pleasures aren’t enough. I see brokenness all around me.

Why?

All of that is pointing to something: a future hope.

Not a right-now hope.

A future hope.

Jesus coming back.

That’s it.

1 Peter 1:8 says, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” This is what I’m praying for myself and for others. That the hope of Jesus coming back would permeate every part of our lives with joy.

That is what I’m hoping in now.

Nothing else but Him.

I’m not hoping in this life to satisfy me anymore. I’m just not. I will focus on doing whatever He wants me to do for Him and striving to help somebody with whatever little I have left.

God wants me to understand something: nothing in this life is meant to be enough for me.

That’s why I’ve been coming up empty with everything I run to for pleasure.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this so strongly until now.

The promise of Jesus coming back one day is the only thing meant to be enough for us.

(Here are some verses talking about Jesus coming back: Matthew 24:30-31, 37-39; Luke 12:37-38; John 14:1-3; 1 Cor 1:7, 4:5; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13, 2:12; 2 Peter 3:2, 8-10; rev 1:7-8, 3:11, 16:15, 22:12-13, 20-21).

I love Revelation chapter 1. I can’t get enough of it. I want to see Jesus so badly. And not just see Him, but be with Him. Right by his side. I don’t care what I have to do I just want the chance to be with Jesus wherever He is at in the New Heaven and New Earth. I’ve spent enough time away from Him and I just need Him now so bad.

I’m realizing that all I really have in terms of lasting pleasure is the hope that Jesus is coming back soon. And God had to take me to an all-time low to get this.

So now I have a different equation in my mind: Hope of Jesus coming back = happiness.

All I have is this promise.

So I’m living on a promise.

The promise that He is indeed coming back.

And that means I don’t need any more numbing solution. If I feel pain, brokenness, worry, heartache, anxiety, etc, that’s just a product of this fallen world. It’s inevitable. I can’t numb it anymore.

Because in the moments of feeling the weight of it, I am actually postured to recognize that God Himself is the only hope I have…so I must wait on His Son to come back. And little by little, as I start to train my mind to embrace this new equation of the hope of Jesus coming back as being enough to make me happy, I know that I will start to be at peace. It is freeing me from an unattainable hope I had formerly placed in myself and in empty pleasures.

I pray for you in the broken parts of your life and in the pain that makes you run to things for pleasure. I pray for God’s spirit of freedom and of release. I pray that when we start to doubt the promise that Jesus is coming back for us that the Holy Spirit would remind our hearts what’s true. I pray for joy to fall from heaven. I pray for strongholds to be broken. In the name of Jesus, may we stop running to numbing solution for what’s painful in our lives and simply let the promise of Jesus’ return be enough to sustain us. Thank You, Lord, that You are coming back for us soon. And when it’s hard, Lord, please have mercy on our weaknesses. We wait for You.

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. 14 The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.”

-Revelation 1:12-19-

Questions for Today:

  • Is it easy for me to run to various pleasures to numb certain feelings or pain in my life?
  • What are those things?
  • Do I ever feel satisfied from it? Why or why not?
  • Why do I not feel the full effect of God being enough for me in this life?
  • Why is it important that I not numb my pain but let it redirect me towards a future hope?
  • What is our future hope and why should that give us peace in this life?

“Holy Spirit” by Kari Jobe Carnes ft. Cody Carnes