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!!!

 

Quiet Sacredness

I can talk a lot. A lot, a lot. And often my talk veers towards the non-sensible. I can go off on tangents and loose focus and babble unceasingly.

I am saying nothing.

Yet, I am saying everything.

Where my words can be incessant chatter, my heart is crying out, “Please listen to me!” Listen to the cry of my heart to be heard. To be validated. That I am, despite all my failures, enough. My talk is communicating the deep cry within – my soul desperate to break free of shame.

My precious mom has said this to me for years: I am not portraying myself when I talk so much. When I strive and fight for acceptance. When I attempt to show my worth through words and intelligence and learnedness. I’m not the “me” she knows. Don’t get me wrong I can talk joyfully for hours about something that excites me, but when it’s about being seen as enough? It shows.

I am soon walking into my 48th year. And I am tired. Tired of trying to measure up. To be enough. Or to use the shame language of Dr. Brown, shadowed by the cultural expectation of a woman to be – Thin. Pretty. Un-opinionated. It’s not me. However, being  bullish and chatty isn’t me either.

Instead I’ve decided to embrace who God made me to be. Not thin, but curved and vibrant. Not pretty, per se, but sometimes plain, sometimes gorgeous. Rarely not opinionated, but always graceful. Listening. Thoughtful. Passionate.

And to embrace quiet. To grow comfortable with waiting for others to share. To be less anxious about sharing my opinions than hearing the ideas of others. To still myself. Live into thoughtful response. To be, finally, who God has created me to be.

The sacred mess transformed into a quiet sacredness.

I’d appreciate your prayers.
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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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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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Forsaken

(Note: I’ve been reading through some of my summer posts and wow! Raw, but often a downer! Quite frankly, I am getting tired of myself! So to end off the season of my discontent I am publishing an older post. As we head into my favourite time of year I am hoping to explore the joy of life and the power of waiting on God’s best plan! Yippee!!)

 

Do you ever feel it?

That deep, deep disappointment with life? And maybe even with God?

Good Christians don’t want to admit it, but I’ll bet you it’s there. The desperate plea. The sorrow and suffering. The idea that “this” isn’t what we signed up for.

I felt it today. No reason. No cataclysmic event prompted it.

Sad. Lonely. Wondering when. Longing for heaven. For the pain to ease.

“My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

Am I not enough? Obedient enough? Strong enough? Disciplined enough?

For me it’s doing life alone. It was never my dream. For you it might be doing it with the wrong person. Or maybe that person is right, but never at the same time as you.

Maybe it’s not about a person at all. Maybe it’s your job. Or disability. Or sickness.

Maybe it’s unmet needs. Where you must, must, must have more, but it’s inaccessible.

Maybe it’s nothing concrete, rather a darkness, a fear, a doubt. Everything looks great from the outside, but inside it’s empty.

What do we do then? Do we abandon God and force our way into what we think we want? What we think we need? I’ve done it. It doesn’t work. Or rather it works for a while, but then it falls apart. And more brokenness occurs.

The truth (sadly) is we live in a broken world filled with sin. Some desires may never be met. Some relationships will be broken. Some darkness may lie in wait until we shrug off the corporeal.

What then?

Where do we go from there?

Eucharisteo. (Thanksgiving.)

“Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voscamp 

Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.

What we realize is the miracle may not be (or ever be) what we deeply hope for. Yet it is always what we need.

Today my miracle was not my heart’s desire. Rather it was agreement. It was an important person in my life agreeing with me.  A person saying to me that they concurred – my pain was valid. My heart had every right to be broken. My situation sucked.

And, in that agreement, came the miracle. Not the outcome I desired, but the reality that I wasn’t in this alone.

And sometimes amid it all, that is enough.

 

 

As Good As It Gets

Remember the 1997 movie, “As Good As It Gets”? Jack Nicholson plays famous writer, Melvin Udall, who suffers with debilitating OCD – and makes those around him suffer right along with him. In one scene, Melvin marches into his psychiatrist’s office demanding to see the doctor. Of course, his demand is denied by the front desk nurse. In his frustration, Melvin turns to the waiting room full of depressed patients and says:

“What if this is as good as it gets?”

What if this is as good as it gets, I wonder.

Now, the “good Christian girl” inside immediately replies, “Of course it isn’t! We are children of God! The best is yet to come!”

Hmm.

Lately, that “good Christian girl” has been on vacation. Instead of responding with positivity and joy, my response is tired and my heart a little bit broken.

I’ve been facing an inordinate amount of disappointment lately. Disappointment is a part of life, but this year it seems to be one thing after another. Plainly speaking, I’m struggling.

And I’m wondering, what if this IS as good as it gets. I mean, we are, after all, living in a fallen world. Our hopes and expectations are bound to be out of our reach, right?

Nothing is utterly tragic – rather little pokes of sadness and disillusionment. Tiny things. Career uncertainty. Struggling with singleness and loneliness. Mild depression.

The nagging thought that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

And there is truth in that – this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

How it’s supposed to be is not about me, rather all about Him.

Earlier this summer, during my regular prayer time, I felt God challenging me to lay down my prayers for myself and instead grow my intercession for others. Specifically, wait on God to lead me to pray for three people daily. This is not to say God wasn’t interested in my needs/desires. He knows my heart. He was instead, showing me how to become more selfless and concerned with the lives of others.

I’d like to say this experience has been a rousing success and I’ve been so changed by the practice.

But I can’t.

I’m not.

Yet.

If I’ve learned anything in my spiritual life in the past few years’ it’s God’s demand on my obedience.

I came across this golden truth today:

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And I do. Love Him. And right now the only hope I can access is found in this belief. That I can’t come close to imagining His plan.

So for right now, that’s going to have to be enough.

(Please feel free to comment or if you’re local you can always ply me with coffee and comment face to face. 😉 )