Meet my friend lack. Lack and I have been friends for longer than I care to admit. And while this relationship frustrates me with its constant reminders of my inadequacies and insufficiencies; and its tendency to hem me in and roadblock my plans for progress, recent events have also made me realise that I have put my friend lack on a bit of a pedestal. Perhaps even made an idol of him.
That might seem like a strange statement to make. But our journey of looking for a new home has made me realise that deep down I thought it was more spiritual to be in want; to be in need because then I was truly dependent on God. So, when we ended up with a house that was above and beyond what I had ever anticipated or dreamt would be possible in this season of our lives, I struggled to receive it.
While on one hand the woman of faith in me could see the hand of God upon us; see His hand in every detail and His favour in the process, the woman who had made friends with lack wanted to refuse this gift. I felt unworthy - guilty even - of having such a lovely and spacious home. And this new home, with its somewhat empty rooms waiting to be filled, has been challenging me as to whether I am ready to break it off with my friend lack in order to pursue true dependency on Christ.
Paul's words in Philippians 4 have been echoing in my head. You know the often quoted, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. They are words that I have often leaned on over the years: the knowledge and truth as lack and I have journeyed together that it's ok that I don't have enough because He does; the freedom of knowing that it's ok that I don't feel enough for this calling because He is.
But here's the thing: I've only applied this dependency on Christ's sufficiency to some things. To the living in want things. And His invitation to be dependent upon His riches and grace is for ALL things.
...for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.
Christ's invitation, is to a life of dependency upon His strength and His power even when I feel like it's something that I've got under control. It's for the places that I think 'I've got this" and for the places where resources and talents abound as much as it is for the places that I wrestle and struggle in.
And when I receive this offer of grace for all instead of just some things, my places of lack are not more holy than my places of abundance. They are each simply an opportunity to lean on Him in a different way.
Because the friend that I need is neither lack nor abundance, it is Jesus.
It is Jesus in every strength and in every weakness
It is Jesus in every triumph and in every failure
It is Jesus in every season and in every chapter
It's His hand that I want to hold and His embrace that I need at the end of a long day. It is His truth, and His wisdom, and His love that feeds the ache in my soul. That's the only truly holy thing in all of this: wholeheartedly pursuing and surrendering myself to Jesus. Allowing myself to be fully reliant upon all that He is and all that He offers me; abiding so deeply in His presence that He becomes as necessary to me as the air that I breathe.
So I'm ending this thing I've had going on with lack and taking him off the pedestal that I've wrongly put him on. Do I expect to never be in want again? No, but I want to shift the focus. Instead of glorifying my circumstances I want to glorify Him. To look for how my season invites me to know Him more and to lean more deeply on His grace.
Which is why as I clean my house this weekend, I will be choosing gratitude for this unexpected blessing of a home instead of guilt. I'll be looking at the empty spaces and instead of feeling frustrated about what I don't have, I'll be choosing to see a space that God has created to be filled by Him. Just like my life.
How is Jesus inviting you to rely on Him for ALL things today?
I thought everything in my life was trucking along just fine. I thought I was OK –until that was a recurring issue in my life had me heading into freefall and my world was turned upside down. Crying before God I asked “Will I ever be free, truly free? Am I inherently evil that I struggle like this?” Straightaway the following passage of scripture was quickened to me: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
No, I responded! love can only be earned if I do the right things, never fail and perform well. (See the problem there?) “Do not strive” God replied gently and still my soul railed “No, I must start achieving, do some courses, make my mark and validate my existence”
A memory flashed into my thoughts. I was aged 7 lying in my bed one night when I was overwhelmed by a sense of evil in the room, an evil so intense I could not breathe. I prayed for the first time, “God, place 4 Angels in each corner of my room to protect me”.
I saw those huge Angels, handsome with amazing feathers on their wings. Each with long, glinting swords which radiated light in the darkness. Even at 7 I was aware that a battle was taking place between good and evil. Light filled the room and evil was driven back.
When I shared this my husband challenged me – “Do you remember what was happening in your life when you were 7?” It had never crossed my mind so I asked God if He would show me. As I waited on God for that answer, I asked Him why I struggle with performance orientation; why I am so driven. God amazed me by swiftly answering both my questions.
Aged 7 my Dad became irritated that I was not ‘doing enough’ or earning my keep. He wanted me to spend more hours on the farm helping out. In my little girl’s heart, I resolved to earn my Father’s love by working harder. With tears in my eyes, I remember writing in my diary “I am not enough, I must do better and work harder” I started to perform to earn love and worth.
I also developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which lasted over 30 years before God set me free. It began as I cleaned my bedroom in a certain way each week. I’d start with the window sill and the skirting boards, then clear out and organise each cupboard, every drawer and every book on my shelf until everything was perfect.
Worth was found in being orderly and until my tasks were accomplished to a certain standard I would hold of going out of having fun. Fun had to be earned.
Healing of my OCD was progressive and deep, but performance orientation remained. I kept feeling I was not enough and had to work harder. Striving, striving, striving. Yet I was craving love which I could not seem to find anywhere.
At night I’d go to bed troubled with these thoughts of not being enough, that I was not lovable as just ‘me’. I believed God and man expected so much of me and was aware I was seeing God as I did my earthly Father. The Holy Spirit gave me a key in a revelation – He showed me how as a 7-year-old girl I had made an inner vow stating that in order to earn love I must work harder.
God led me to break that inner vow for it had reaped an unholy harvest in my life – the Performance Orientation and the belief that love was conditional. I repented for believing lies that I was not enough. I forgave my lovely Dad, who was only busy with much work on the farm at the time. God showed me that Jesus’ death on the Cross, was pure love and because of what He had done I was enough - whether I did anything or not, whether I failed or succeeded. His love was not conditional. My worth was not based on how good or bad I was.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
The cry of my heart for so many years has been “Somebody please love me – just as me”. When my Dad died in 2013, it was one of the first cries of my heart, for now, my Dad could never affirm me, I could not earn his love – he was gone. And I started looking for love and attention in all the wrong places, reaping more and more from that inner vow.
But even this message isn’t all tied up and neatly finished, for now I must learn to replace my thinking and allow God to pull down the ‘structures’ of behaviour I’ve had for many years. I am a work in process, no drive thru breakthrough here, it’s a journey of broken-ness and truth – but I know I am on the way to true freedom.
And I know that while I am a work in process, often only seeing the mess, He sees the end. And He will complete what He’s begun in me; like a master artist, He’ll keep putting His finishing touches on the canvas of my life until I can see the glorious work He’s done.
Where do you need to embrace being a work in process and rest in His faithfulness to bring wholeness?
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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