God Is Not Enough (and now that I have your attention…)

 

Last week I was dwelling in self pity and wrote some regretful words in my journal. After careful consideration, I thought I’d share:

God isn’t enough. 

…God is NOT enough. Not all the time, anyway. In those desperate times when you are told God is enough, He’s not, really. That’s the punishment of original sin, I suppose. We lost what made us whole. We suffer. And all the evangelicals etc. can say what they want – but sometimes, in some moments, He is not enough.

When the diagnosis is grim.
When the mortgage can’t be paid.
When he/she leaves and won’t return.
When you’ve waited, your whole life for love and love doesn’t find you.

In these moments – I think it’s fair to say – He isn’t enough.

And to go further…
He doesn’t always come through in the end.
Nope.

Suffering. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Death. 
It’s all over the human condition.

So. What does that leave me? Leave anyone?

“God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” – Ha. Not biblical. 

What He did say? Life would be rough. We would suffer. Our hearts would ache and brokenness would consume us.

No more lies.

In this fragile life – in the midst of it – He isn’t enough.

Obviously I wrote that out of pain and not a little loneliness, but I did so with a pure heart. I reflected back on the words throughout my week and what I realized is

God can only be enough when we allow Him to be. 

He’s the one knocking at our door. It’s up to us to answer. When He isn’t there, it’s because we haven’t made room for Him in our lives. Perhaps we haven’t been obedient? Or maybe we really want to live our lives with one foot in the world and one in Christ?

For me, I needed to admit my relationship with Him needed some soul work – more intimacy and times of prayer and mediation. How can He be enough when I don’t know Him as I should?

I choose to allow God to be my enough. I also choose to believe He has the best plan for my life. I believe He created me the way He did for His purpose. And the best place I can be in times of weakness and suffering is on my knees.

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A Dry Season

 

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Well.

It’s been a long break, hasn’t it?

The past few months have been extremely busy and difficult for me. First off, it was tax season. As a bookkeeper, a busy season to say the least!

But more than that there was increased anxiety in my life. A palpable oppression. And I  am completely convinced the enemy had me in his crosshairs. I have been doing the work with shame and he is not a fan of my healing.

But today – in the distance – I saw it! A small cloud in midst of the desert. Praise God, because I was reaching my end.

It’s just a small cloud. Tiny. But the rain is coming. I can smell it in the air.

He has been faithful in the past. And yes, He will be again and again!!!

 

Deserve

Deserving.

You hear it everywhere:

“I deserved better.”

Or

“She doesn’t deserve him”

Or

“He doesn’t deserve that (job, house, car, whatever.)”

Or

“I didn’t deserve to be treated like that!”

If you grew up with background similar to mine, chances are you have a unease with the word “deserve.” For Christians the word deserve can reflect over-reaching expectations or even entitlement. We are told because of our sin, we “deserve” death and only the grace of Jesus Christ gives us good in our lives. It’s not about deserving, it’s about mercy.

However, I’ll admit I’ve gone through many struggles during my walk with Christ. Not so much about entitlement, per se. Rather a deep disappointment with the way things have gone.

“Don’t I deserve it as much as her/him?”

“Haven’t I been obedient?” “Haven’t I done good works?”  “Haven’t I deserved more than this?”

Ugh. Comparison.

And even in compassion I’ll look at someone in strife and think, “He/She doesn’t deserve this pain.”

It’s not about deserving is it? We deserve the grave, yes. But more than this, we need to come to an agreement – we live inside a fallen world and despite our prayers, desires and actions – sometimes the blessings/answers/healing remain far away or never come.

And it really sucks.

I was thinking beyond deserving earlier today. I have a few items in my prayers which might come across as expectations. The difference is, I believe through prayer and reading the Word, God has instructed me to pray in this way. It’s not my expectation, rather His plan.

For instance, God may be leading you to pray for prosperity so that you may bless others. He may want you to let something “good” go – even if it seems illogical – so He may take you farther, bless you further.

How can we change our language to reflect a better way? Sometimes God is calling us to a good thing – in His grace. Not because we deserve it or have earned it. We know well enough that’s not possible. He is inviting us to be in His likeness – in power and justice and blessing.  We can choose to accept His invitation in humility. We can opt for waiting and not pushing our agendas and wants. We do deserve the grave, but God deserves the infinite best. He is always looking beyond our petty comparisons and desiring our obedience.

I deserve the grave, but I will choose obedience.

Thy will be done, Oh God. Thy will be done.

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The Bad Girl

 

 

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Do me a favour.

Take your thumb and place it right in the middle of your sternum. Below the heart. Above the diaphragm.

Are you doing it?

Okay.

Now press.

Hard.

I want you to imagine that spot. Right where you pressed your thumb to flesh. I want you to imagine a dark, oppressive pain. Not a mortal wound, but a chronic ache, a daily reminder of its existence.

This is my pain. Right in the middle of my chest. Most days? Hardly noticeable. Somedays? Impossible to ignore.

When I was a baby girl – just a toddler – I had a poisoning incident. Up until age two, I was a normal, happy, bubbly, little girl. But when I escaped from my bath and toddled out the back door and saw the can of BBQ fluid which looked so much like a can of soda – something changed. I went from robust health to critically ill in a moment. Because that fluid didn’t just enter my stomach. It’s trickled down into my lungs. A delicate system further compromised by toxic chemical.

After nights of touch and go, I was declared a miracle.  Sure, I needed some aggressive chest pounding therapy. Yet, healed. Physically. Except the lingering dark spots on my lungs. But healing.

However spiritually? I remained critical.

Although I recovered in body, my spirit took on lifelong damage. While healing my body, my tiny soul embarked on a new fight. A fight to belong. A fight to be accepted. That delicate time of childhood crushed by pain. A pain taken personally. You see, a child under five can’t reason the difference between physical pain or emotional pain. And somehow, little me translated excruciating physical pain into punishment. That I must have deserved the pain. I was a bad girl.

Physically I recuperated, but emotionally and spiritually I remained damaged. The damage to my lungs slowly healed, yet that dark, black spot remained imbedded in my chest.

The black spot has followed me throughout my life. When pain happens, an arrow hits me square in the ribs. And rejection. And disappointment. And failure. A reminder. An ache – heart broken, but I deserve it. I have been a bad girl.

My experience with the “bad girl” curse means shame and anger still linger. In any good, I still expect the bad to follow.  I’d like to tell you I’m all better now. But that would be a lie. The truth is some days it’s worse than ever. As time marches on and my circumstances don’t change and I make the same mistakes and I am alone and lonely and desperate and depressed – that damn spot is a reminder that I don’t warrant the good stuff. I’ve been a bad girl.

The question is: how do I rid myself of that spot? If it were as easy as a simple prayer, I would have been freed years ago. Maybe, like Paul, it’s my thorn in the flesh?

I don’t know.

I question: do I merit hope? It’s taken such a beating lately. It seems easier to tuck it away and accept that life is not abundant. Should I live without expectations? It’s impossible to not compare yourself to others and ask: “why not me?”  And when the answer is “no,” always “no,” – where do you go? What do you believe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding Hands

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We live in a world that takes everything to extremes.

Success is measured by money and power. Talent is determined by worldwide fame. Physical touch means sexual intimacy.

In earlier years, I was a driven person with over-reaching expectations for myself. I believed my spiritual maturity was validated by my outward appearance, relationship status and/or worldly impact. Something drove me to want what I could never achieve and that something was certainly NOT God. Always pushing myself into a societal mold (even a Christian one) did nothing but increase my anxiety until I was ripe for a mental breakdown.

In the last few years my definition of success has changed. I’m no longer driven by the old rules. I’ve found myself completely in love with a new way.

Unhurried.

Unambitious for worldly pursuits.

Unashamed.

Post-modern society doesn’t have much use for the slow, soft and gentle. The minimalist. Where “enough” is not hoarding, but a sufficient amount for the day.  We are constantly in a rush to be “something” and do “important things” – with no idea what those are.

I find myself enamoured with new things. The quiet of nature. Hours of silence. Driving to work in intercession. Longing for more, but content with what God gives. And even taking joy in the wait.

Success now means obedience and the fruit of the spirit.

Talent is using the gifts He gave me for His glory.

Touch means conveying love and hope and grace in the simplicity of holding someone’s hand.

 

P.S:  This post came from a quiet drive home from work in the midst of a snowfall. Maybe not the best time to let your mind wander, but it is what it is. I admit it: I miss holding hands with a man. Yet, what a delight to know that when that happens in my future I am able to give and submit and love in ways I couldn’t have a few short years ago. To God be the Glory. Only and always. XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Full Abandon

 

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With full abandon.

That’s how I long to love.

To rush forward passionately. Joyfully. Fearlessly.

Yet with fear is how I’ve always loved. Always afraid of love dying. Or moving on. Or fading away.

A little girl, terrified. My mother ten minutes late. Fearing the worst. She who I loved the most leaving me behind.

A young woman. First romance. Push. Pushing love away. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Older. Getting my very own first dog. And still afraid to love too much. For the inevitable day will come. And she will go. So, I hold something back.

What do I give up if I love with full abandon? Do I give up a cage of my own making for true freedom?

What do I risk if I love completely?

Much.

I could get hurt. My loves will die, move on, fade away. And even more – they could hurt me. Lash out and do damage.

Yet.

What do I risk if I don’t love with complete passion? What will I miss out on? By tying love to conditions? By holding back in fear?

Steadfast love.

Again. And again the scriptures tell of God’s steadfast love for us. Despite our sin. Our absolute rejection of him. Worse – our replacement of Him with pale substitutes. And yet: love. Steadfast love. And if I am to be an example of His life and character and walk in imago dei… shouldn’t I embrace the love? With full abandon?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Fear has to do with punishment. My fearful love is wrapped up in a reprimand I may deserve, but Jesus has redeemed me from.

Perfect love drives out all fear. All terror. All hesitation of intimacy. Perfect love opens us to a grace too beautiful to imagine.

What have I been hiding myself from?

 

 

One Day Closer

“One day closer…” he said.

Walking to work early in the morning and seeing the first light of a new day dawning. The immense beauty of God’s creation on display. And joy overwhelming. Reminding him – we are one day closer. Thank you, dear friend. For the reminder. At first, I was worried about your emotional state – but then I realized the gorgeousness of this simple phrase. (Thank you, Norm Grube!)

“One day closer.”

I’ve written plenty about my own suffering. Skating so close to the edge of self-pity that I’ve fallen and become bored of myself. Suffering is a common condition in the human experience. We all suffer.

But then a week like this past one comes along. And you recognize how MUCH it’s not about you.

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Refugees. Conflict. Hatred. Dishonor. Lack of character in leadership.

And so much helplessness.

What can we do?

Pray?

Seems so little.

Give?

Again – a drop in the bucket.

Now, what about when it hits closer to home?

 

One friend suffering in addiction.

Another so lonely that life seems too much and she wants it to end.

And then the oldest, dearest, most joyful and beautiful friend receiving uncertain news about her health. (Oh God! Hasn’t she been through enough?)

Then lastly, the precious parent. So, beautiful. So, loved. Fearing the future. Is this a temporary thing or is the new reality?

Lord Jesus Christ! Have mercy on us!

What do we do?

Pray? Yes. Yes. Yes! Always pray. Be in communion with the One who loves us – ALWAYS.

But beyond that, what do we do?

Be reminded: we are one day closer.

 

One day closer when the suffering will end.

One day closer to the perfect story finally reaching its climax.

One day closer to unexplainable joy, peace that goes beyond all understanding and most of all: Love.

Love that surpasses anything this world offers. Love forever.

And it’s that love. The unbelievable, unconditional, indescribable, all-encompassing love that gives us one more gift:

Hope.

In the beauty of the creation around us.

In limiting the number of our days, so sin can’t rule us for too long.

We are thankfully and gracefully, one day closer You. Eternally You.

 

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