Deja vu. That eerie feeling you’ve been here before. I’m experiencing that in my journey right now. Terry and I are taking the “Believing God” study by Beth Moore. Our church was offering it and after praying it through, I felt God confirming this was His path for me at this time. The thing is, I took it back in 2003 and again in 2006, both marker times in my walk with God.
Often when I turn to the day’s Scripture assignment I find a date from 2003 recorded there; I have been profoundly moved as I retrace my previous footsteps with God. I was raw and worn in January of 2003, tired of trying to earn God’s approval, love and blessing. I can feel the ragged way some of the passages taunted me: (Psalm 145) “They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made…” (In the margin of this verse I wrote: “Show me this!”) “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. You satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth… He hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love Him.” In the margin I noted that the night before that I had cried myself to sleep, 1/15/03.
How left out of those promises I felt in those days. I was begging God to rally for me, to show me that He protects those He loves and that He moves on behalf of justice. I could not feel His love, or His pleasure. I could only feel how very disappointing I must be to Him, my own failures and lack of measuring up. As I have retraced those steps in the Bible study, and in my journal from 2003, I can recall the anguish I once felt. But I can also see how the cries of my heart were stirred by God and how very soon He would answer them. I made an urgent demand of God in January of 2003, “Show me Your face! Show me who You really are!!” Soon He would feed my soul what it most hungered for: His love taken into me and filling me.
Today I journaled more about my need for comfort, of the cavern that still exists within me. And I wrote of the soul-hunger that seems to open the chasm and allow the river to rise within me. After I completed my journaling, then Bible study, I turned to the 1/27/03 journal entry, the day long ago I previously studied this same lesson. Over the course of that weekend in 2003, God had placed this question before me: “What if I created you just to love you?” I had been angry with it, quoted catechism to Him (and Scriptures) yet persistently it came, and gently, “What if I created you just to love you?” On that morning in 2003, this is what I journaled:
“How might my life be different if I believed God’s purpose for me is truly and simply to love me? How might I live my life? If I believe my childhood was God’s perfect plan for me, does that make Him cruel or mean? Was He unwilling or unable to rescue me? And then there are those years of unabashed self-loathing. How was God’s goal LOVE for me in those years? Was it the desert of my soul, the parched thirst of a breaking heart and the unquenchable hunger of a desperate life that opened my eyes to Him once again, to truly seek Him and lean on Him? The answer is yes. He created within me a chasm in my very being that would yawn miserably until I filled it with Him. I’ve tried other things and they only leave a larger void upon consumption. My zealous filling has only widened the gap of a suspiciously shifting cavern. How might I have felt if I had simply stuffed in more Jesus? But I had no idea how. I was diligent in my devotions and my prayers effusive. These were days of lean loneliness but I misunderstood how to trust Him. And joy? That was merely a component of dutiful obedience – a fake smile plastered on a plastic face masking a miserable incompleteness. People were hurting – dying inside all around me – but God was not there. It seems He sat far off, raking in the prayers and meagerly doling out pats on the head.
“Here I sit, empty. And the emptiness in me breeds fear like the plague. I am terrified of the emptiness. I’ve felt it so often in life that I fear it. I want the fullness of satisfaction, the completeness of filling. Where do I run to flee its curse, what do I use to fill its void? God’s love? Does He really love me? Is that His purpose for me? Is it not growth, service, to glorify Him? Can it be for Him to love me and for me to finally receive that love? For then it would spill out of me and I might finally love my family and others well. What if my job in life is to simply receive God’s love well and to spill His love to others? What if I am not to generate anything – not one thing? What it I am only to receive, and receive to the point of overflow? Might my cavernous void be filled up and satisfied and might that void benefit others as God’s love spills over? What if all I am to do is genuinely receive God?” (January 27, 2003)
A chasm. A void. A hunger. His timing is remarkable. I haven’t read this entry in years. God had a major shift coming to me in 2003. What might He be doing this time? This day’s assignment included Psalm 146 and I can see how God was preparing me, in 2003 for His answer to me. “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts ups those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.” This is also my Scripture assignment today. He’s up to something.