“Being broken isn’t the end, but rather an opportunity to be made into something new. Pouring out your heart is a chance to refill it with something better. Having the ability to cry due to sorrow allows you to cry tears of joy. Being let down by others makes way to be lifted up by Him. Loving Him first and others second prerequisites learning to love yourself. All the bad days make the good ones so much better. Without bad, we can’t have good.”
I wrote those words on the back of my sermon notes a couple years ago. They eagerly summed up all of the thoughts I had been plagued with for the past several months. “Why do I have to suffer so much?” Those exact thoughts penetrated me and I dwelled on them. I have always been the type person to let things continue to build and build and build until I break because I am leaning on my own understanding of everything. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. I had managed to convince myself that I was trusting in Him, but it had all been just an honest attempt at hiding the fact that I was trying to handle everything on my own. Trusting in God was a façade. I had all the right windows, doors, siding and shingles on my house. From the outside, it was appealing and you could tell that someone great lived there. On the inside, however, I had dust, cobwebs, clutter and mismatched furniture and it wasn‘t proper living conditions for who should be reigning inside. I was allowing God to live on the outside of me and be shown through everything I would do and say, but I wasn’t allowing Him to live on the inside and do a work in my life as well. I was stuck in the mindset of putting others first and I had begun to forget about myself. God doesn’t just want to utilize me in reaching and ministering to other people. He wants to actively work inside of me and bring about a change inside of me as well. God loves other people, but He loves me just as much. I somehow managed to forget that. I continued to love God and serve Him, but it was like I was trying to make up for how horrible of a person I was, not merely because He deserves it.
God doesn’t ask for a love that sprouts from obligation. He demands a love that is a direct result of desire. He doesn’t want us to take part in Him simply out of fear of hell. He wants us to submerge ourselves in Him because our longing for Him is so overwhelming that we don’t consider there to be any other options. I knew this. I was told this growing up, but I could never find the step-by-step process anywhere in the Bible. I couldn’t find the combination to unlock my heart and allow it to be fully saturated. I didn’t know how to give myself a burning desire for Him. Occasionally I’d stumble across a bottle of spiritual lighter fluid and watch as I quickly burst into flames, but even more quickly withered away to coals — never fully burnt out. Every attempt I made was a sudden rush of flame followed by a sudden cloud of smoke as the flames died. I wanted to feel loved by God. I wanted to crave Him so bad it hurt. I just didn’t know how to get there.
I am incapable of satisfying the God-shaped craving of my soul. I can read all the verses, hear all the sermons and sing all of the songs, but I still won’t be content. I’ll still be searching. Motive outweighs action. I can do all the right actions and still not even faintly satisfy my craving for God the way I should. Once again that leaves me stuck on the selfish desires of my heart. I’m trying to figure out how I can get myself to desire God. I’m too busy focusing on what I need to do to draw closer to Him. Sometimes all that needs to be done is to let go and let God take action. It never once occurred to me to pray that I would desire Him more. It never crossed my mind to let Him take control of that aspect of my life. I allowed myself to believe that God was letting me handle it on my own.
I am now frantically praying that God takes control. I’m giving it up. I don’t want it. All I want is to crave Him. All I want is to desire Him. All I want is to be consumed by, devoted to, saturated in, focused on, and never fully satisfied with Him. I never want to lose my desire for Him. I never want to be content with ‘just enough.’ I never want to be complacent in my walk with the Lord. I never want to meander through a life of mediocrity. God deserves way more than that. …but I am incapable of doing that on my own. I have to step back and let God take the wheel, but not for a momentary moment like Carrie Underwood sings. It’s not a, “Oh, no! I need help!” moment. It’s a “God, take control of my life. Don’t direct me around the potholes, but rather drive me to the finish line.”
God doesn’t promise the road will be easy, just straight. So I go back to Proverbs 3:5-6 — after I meet the prerequisite of trusting in Him, it says He will make my paths straight. I remember back in math class, my teacher always said the quickest path from A to B is straight. When I allow God to take control of my life, He takes me straight where I need to be. When I drive, I like to take the scenic route and stop off at every souvenir shop, “World’s Largest” attraction, and tourist trap I manage to lay my eyes on. I get distracted and slow down. God doesn’t promise there won’t be hills. Life always has and always will have it’s ups and downs. Some days I’ll be headed uphill and struggling, some days it’ll be downhill and quick. What matters is that God is driving and I have no need to fear, because one way or another, I’m going to get there.
So, today I throw God the keys, hop in the back seat and shut up. God doesn’t need a co-pilot or a backseat driver. He is more than capable without my input. I just have to believe that God knows everything and even though I don’t understand the momentary frustration, He understands the entire picture and knows what is best.