Originally published on May 19, 2017.
You have to know why something isn’t working before you can fix it. And I know for myself at least, that it can take a little while of muddling around in unpleasant circumstances before I realize I need help. When I am hungry, I have no difficulty recognizing the symptoms and finding something to munch. When I get sleepy, and it’s hard to focus at my desk, there is always coffee, and a resolution to go to bed earlier tonight. Why am I often so clueless then, when it comes to matters of heart and spirit?
Part of the problem is that inner disquiet is cultivated on countless screens and glossy pages, multiplying to the senses that first smooth line of the Enemy. Didn’t Eve fall for the same lie, that what the Creator gave was not enough?…That she was not enough?… And maybe the beautiful things she saw out there offered a better answer? Our discontent serves the Enemy well.
I have found that too many images of beautiful homes and gardens and perfectly put-together outfits can wreak havoc in my spirit. And there are so many experts out there about what a happy family looks like (or acts like, or does together, or eats for dinner)– it can make me wonder how come mine always seems to fall just a bit short. All those voices out there telling us women what will make life more meaningful, more healthy, more successful….just plain More. And before I realize, I am chasing the wind like Wise King Solomon: trying harder for something that will fill this restless longing.
But (as Eve found out a long time ago) trying harder to be Enough on my own never quite adds up. Like Solomon said, “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Ecclesiastes 1:8) And at some point, I wake up to recognize that the turmoil in my life comes from looking in all the wrong places for what ails my soul. It usually takes time for my brain to connect the dots of cause and effect– of choices and consequences– and how one turn led to another until I found myself on a path I never intended, crying out for rescue. Even the most well-intentioned hearts can find themselves in a season of restlessness and confusion. Actually, it’s not the worst place to be.
Ezekiel’s valley full of dry bones were waiting for Spirit-breathed words to live again, but first the people needed to get to the end of their resources. When they cried out “Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” (Ezekiel 37:11) then they were ready for God’s miracle of new life. Uncomfortable as it is, dissatisfaction with the way things are can be the catalyst for change. Whatever your longings, there is only One who is large enough, lasting enough, satisfying enough to fill them. Whoever you wish you were, the woman God had in mind when He created you is just the right person to do what He has planned for you. His grace fills up the measure of “not enough” in all of us, so that He calls us “chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12)
Jesus told the woman coming to draw from the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14) But both she and Solomon had to walk down the dusty paths of their own trying, until they realized for themselves that what they were pursuing wasn’t working. The Wise King certainly found good in his discontentment, when he wrote, “Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning….” (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4) I suspect that each of us has to taste dissatisfaction with this world until we are sick of it, like a hunger pushing us to find the eternal food that truly satisfies. Each of us has to come to the realization that discontentment with this world points us toward the satisfying reality of Eternity to come. And I do find that as I grow and experience this truth over and over again, it is easier to recognize soul hunger for what it is and come running to Jesus,“the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)
Whether we long to be loved, or to be understood…whether we are looking for purpose, or security, or joy…whether we yearn to overcome evil, or to find justice…whether we ache to be made whole, or to be freed from shame and guilt…the answer is the same. May all our longings drive us into Your arms, O Lord, and may we find our soul’s satisfaction in You.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.” (Lamentations 3:25-27)
“I’ve tasted the world, seen more than enough–
Its promises fleeting.
Of water and wine I emptied the cup,
And found myself wanting.
But there is a well that never runs dry;
The water of life, the blood of the vine…
‘Cause all I know is
Everything I have means nothing,
Jesus, if You’re not my one thing;
Everything I need right now.
All I need is You right now.”
(One Thing, Hillsong)