When God’s promises are for everybody else.

God led me to a dead end recently. After a couple years of praying diligently for breakthrough and seeking direction from God, it seemed like things in my life were finally coming together. I felt like I had renewed vision. I felt like things were starting to make sense. I felt like I could dream again. And then, unexpectedly, God shut the door.

I can’t say I’m not thankful, because He rescued me from a situation that could have been really bad. He saw what I couldn’t see, and He brought about things that revealed it. But, you know, it’s still hard.

Here I am, right where I left off. Weary of hoping for something different. Unable to even think about what the future might hold. Here I am, able to trust Him with today but struggling to have faith for tomorrow. And I hate to admit it, but it’s like I’ve begun to wonder if God’s promises are for everybody else but me. Have you been there before?

And when I say that, I really just mean some of His promises. Because I can believe that God is my Comforter, My Strength, my Deliverer, my Joy — He really has been so faithful and kind to my heart. I can believe that He will use it all for His glory. I can believe that eternity matters more anyway. But when I read that God’s plans are to prosper me, when I hear the scripture that says He grants me my deepest desires when I delight in Him, when I’m told of the blessing God has for me and my children, I find myself wondering if He really means me.

Isn’t that just what the enemy of our souls wants to do — to convince us that somehow we are the exception? That somehow God’s mercy, faithfulness, or unconditional love is for everybody else…but us?

So tonight, as God revealed these doubts I’ve been trying to ignore, He reminded me that I can’t just pick and choose what to believe about Him — or His Word. That either He is who He says He is, or He’s not. Either all His promises are true, or they’re not. Either He is worthy of all my trust, or I’m wasting my time.

It’s the great paradox of God’s character. The tension we live in. That He is a God who calls us to suffering, and yet a God who takes joy in fulfilling the desires and dreams planted deep within. A God who asks us to die to ourselves, and yet promises us abundant life beyond what we can imagine. A God who tells us to be content in Him, and yet to contend for more. And if I only embrace one part, I’m simply not seeing Him clearly.

So here’s to letting God reveal to each one of us those truths that we unknowingly disregard — whether out of fear, or doubt, or brokenness. Here’s to believing Him for all that He is, and not tailoring it to what we see and feel today. Here’s to embracing dead ends and relentless hope…all at the same time.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. [2 Corinthians 1:20]

Let emptiness come

A few weeks ago, my life slowed down.  After months filled with planned vacations, family events, and social engagements, things just…faded out.  And at first, it was nice.  You know, sleeping in on the weekends and declaring (to myself, of course, since I live alone), “I can do whatever I want today!”  I love a day with no plans.

But even for me, time began to slow down.  Even for me, it was…Too. Much. Space.  And then…that dreaded thing we all fear began to settle in.

I started to feel lonely.

The thing about loneliness is that it’s in itself isolating.  You can’t just tell people you feel lonely.  Then they feel bad and think about what they can invite you to. Or they think up ways to help.  Maybe you need a hobby…or an eharmony account…or a puppy.   (Our world is all about quick fixes.)

For me, as well, the temptation at first was the same.  I wanted to fill the void, and I knew I could.  I could over-commit at work, or try to plan some weekend trips away, or call up friends until I had something to do.  None of those things are necessarily wrong.  But deep down, I knew I didn’t want to be busy just to be busy, you know?  Deep down, I knew I just needed to embrace the emptiness and see what God would do.

And our God, He’s all about the empty things.  In the scriptures, we read that it is the hungry who are satisfied, and the needy whose cries are heard by God.  It says that those who mourn shall be comforted, and that it’s the dry, barren places the Lord comes to fill with streams of life.

There is something about the empty things that move the heart of God.  But it’s sure hard to get there.  Everything in us wants to fill that void before we get there.  Everything in us would rather be satisfied in anything else but God alone.  Everything in us seeks to avoid feeling empty, or sad, or lonely.

And yet maybe the very thing we’re running from is exactly where we find what we’re looking for.

It’s the emptiness that reveals our brokenness, our frailty, and our need for something bigger than ourselves.  It’s in the waiting that we realize Jesus is truly enough.  It’s in the quiet that we begin to know His voice.

And if you’ve ever held out, and let the emptiness come, you’ll know that it’s Jesus Himself who meets us there.  And in that space, there is peace and there is joy so much deeper than that superficial, temporary stuff the world wants us to settle for.  Often it’s getting to those empty places that leads us to the greater things God has in store.

So when the pressures of life begin to unravel our confidence.  Or when the things of the world no longer satisfy our hearts.  Or when the quiet becomes too much to handle.

Let emptiness come.

I don’t yet know all that God has for me in these days, but I know He’s in this.  And instead of dread, I’m starting to even feel excited, because some of His most beautiful treasures are found right here in the waiting.