The Hole in our World

SHOP1-600x600 The world is a heavy place.

More and more, we are swept away by confusion, pride, self-righteousness, anger.

Our emotions have us chained as their slaves, yet we think we’re the master.

We seek to fill voids and holes and unhappiness with whatever promises to fill it the fastest… only to be left more dissatisfied than when we started. We plunge deeper, dig further, compromise more… until we don’t recognize our own faces in the mirror.

The suicide rate increases. Depression and anxiety medications help us get through the day. The hour. Sometimes the minute.

Really? Is this all there is?

Then I have them over for dinner. Or we go out for coffee. Or I eavesdrop on their conversations from the bench. Or read about them.

The Korean couple who serve as doctor and nurse in Jordan.

The missionary kid who became a mother and her heart expanded beyond her home and into a South African community- again. Or maybe it never left.

The ceremonies that bring in families from over 52 countries where they serve as orphanage directors, well-diggers, church planters, hospital help, language teachers, school maintenance staff, counselors… friend to the lost and lonely and hurting.

There is still light in the world.

And it shines bright. It refuses to be put out.

Because there are some, imperfect and insecure and fragile as we are, who know our weakness leads to something bigger and more beautiful than we can imagine.

Who know that the impossible is possible with One.

Who, having tasted WHOLEness, want to extend wholeness, in all its joy and freedom and rest.

Whether it’s through a meal to a hungry child. Or to a small group of hormone-crazed teens about to take over the world. Or through clean drinking water. Or a community center. Or a smile to your German neighbor.

We who know that no amount of physical transformation, sexual “freedom,” the “right” spouse or the clean house or the perfect kids or success or… none of it will make us whole.

That void in our souls and in our world is meant to remind us that we are all foreigners here.

To draw us into our homesickness.

We are meant to feel uneasy in our skin. But we have become a people so reviled by discontentment that we’ve forgotten its purpose. Forgotten the treasure waiting for us. We keep settling for false quick-fixes that leave us less.

When He’s handing us every bit of what our soul needs.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 This has been another Five Minute Friday 🙂

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.

Dearly Loved

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 Dear: “Regarded with deep affection; cherished by someone.”

It never goes away.

It’s the same longing I had as a toddler, as a teen, and now as a married mommy.

I just want to be dear to someone. To be regarded with deep affection and cherished.

And not just by anyone.

By a man. A husband. A lover. A protector. A strength. A defender.

I love my girlfriends, and indeed, I want to be dear to them, too… but there’s a place that can’t be filled by a girlfriend. Kelly Needham has a great series right now on Friendships Gone Wrong. It’s fantastic. If you’re a woman, you should read it. I want to be dear to my friends, just not that dear.

And sometimes, even in marriage, I still have an unmet longing to be dear to someone. Even as a mother, with adoring children, this depth remains unfulfilled. Is it because they don’t love me enough? Because they don’t cherish me?

No.

Well, on some occasions I can convince myself that the answer is “yes.”

But really… it’s not meant to be filled by a human being. I am created with a void that only God can fill.

Yes, my human counterparts can warm my heart with love. I can feel overflowing with affection. I can feel enamored and romantic. But all of those feelings fade away, and I’m left with my own self, my sense of inadequacy and insufficiency, my failures flashing in my face… and I don’t feel so dear anymore.

Yet He says, “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deut 8:3

He lets me hunger for more than this earth can fill.

He lets me thirst for more than this earth’s water can quench.

He lets me suffer for more than this earth can cure.

Because it was never meant to be my sole provider. My all.

He was.

He is.

He is my beloved and I am His.

He bids me come and fills me with Himself. And only then am I content, in whatever circumstance. Only then do I have the peace that transcends understanding. Only then does the song of lasting joy break out.

Only then do I hear Him whisper, “Dear Marcy.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbDtWltHfN8]

Get more of Jimmy’s music here. He’s FANTASTIC. We love the Needhams. 🙂

Do They Notice You?

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 It’s that year. That year when you’ve just given all, pushed through much, persevered faithfully, and then you pause for rest.

To drink in those deep breaths of life giving air. To lie flat on your back, melting into the mattress and blankets and pillows and taking a sweet reprieve.

And then life keeps going.

The world doesn’t stop along with you.

Hardly misses a beat.

And resting gets hard when you wonder if all that hard work, all that grinding on, trudging through, all of that intentional smiling and loving and giving made a difference.

It’s like no one noticed.

Never on the list of accolades. Never in the seat of honor. Not even the name on the lucky draw.

And if they haven’t noticed you, maybe He hasn’t either. Maybe, when He skims over the earth, looking for a place to rest His pleasure and favor, His eyes pass right over you like the million other creatures, all blending in to a blur of deep hues.

And if HE doesn’t notice, what’s the point? Where has all this striving led you but to confusion, doubt, and despair?

That maybe, even with all of those good intentions, you’re still nobody. Nothing. Worthless. Useless.

The irony, I imagine, is that most of us walk through life on this tightrope with the pendulum of the clicking clock swinging over our heads. Many of us genuinely do our best and every now and then realize that no one has noticed.

But has He?

We can’t always tell. So we try harder. Do more. Don’t lose their attention once you get it. Applause? Is that applause? It feels good.

And it fades.

Now it’s more difficult to get and keep their attention.

Or you get it. You get your spotlight.

And you wonder, “Is this flattery? They can’t possibly really think I’m wonderful.”

There’s a hole in our hearts. We crave to be the apple of someone’s eye. To be adored. Recognized. To have it proven that we are a person worth knowing. Worth loving. Worthy dying for.

But what if we’re not?

Actually, we’re pretty sure we’re not.

I’m sure I’m not. I know myself. My weaknesses. My failures that are stuck on “repeat.” My flaws. My inner thoughts and judgments and hypocrisy. And when I forget and start to think I’m something… that maybe my good is finally starting to tip the scale, well, the world reminds me that I’m less. Less than this actor, less than this princess, less than that athlete, less than this politician, less than that wife or mother or friend.

I’m less and I need to be more.

Ads, commercials, magazines, newspapers, blog, tweets, articles, comments, “likes” – Oh, they notice alright. They notice every little flaw about you that makes them feel bigger and better and–

noticed.

Don’t we feel note-worthy when we see someone “less than”?

We get noticed, but not for the good we hope for. Our mistakes get magnified and go viral, reducing our possible “goodness” to insignificance and obscurity.

The pendulum keeps ticking… in the spotlight? No, stay away from the spotlight! But cheer for my good deeds! But don’t notice my poor deeds.

All the while, the hole in our heart stays empty. Unfulfilled.

Because the reality is, no matter how much you’re noticed, it’s not enough. No matter how many golden globes and Emmys and trophies and plaques and Caldecott and Newbery honors and music awards or scholarships… it’s never enough. It never fulfills. We always wonder if tomorrow they’ll still notice. (Or hope that finally, maybe, tomorrow they’ll stop noticing).

But He does notice.

He noticed a tax collector up in the tree.

He noticed the youngest of twelve shepherding in the field.

He noticed a future king in the smallest clan of the smallest tribe.

He noticed a jewish girl within the walls of exile.

He noticed a foreign widow gleaning in the fields of Boaz.

He noticed some fishermen, dirty with the grime of their trade

He noticed two ordinary but faithful hearts in Nazareth.

He noticed one man and his family in a world of corruption.

And he notices you.

And me.

And not just for our flaws and mistakes.

But for who He’s made us to be. For the very fact that we are His.

His design. His creation. His child. His deepest love. I could never un-notice my children.

But do we notice Him?

Do we notice how lavish His love? How relentless His pursuit? How passionate His intentions in our lives?

Our God is not patiently standing by and waiting for us to offer love; He is actively and vigorously pursuing us…… He is the father running down the trail to embrace the prodigal son even before the boy can speak his act of contrition. He is the mad farmer showering a full day’s wage on men who hadn’t even worked. He is Jesus forgiving the sinful woman even before she spoke her sorrow. He is the king lavishing a banquet on beggars. These are all symbols of a God whose love for us is so active, so strong, that by human standards He would be, at least, said to be mad.  –ANDREW GREELEY

Do we notice? When we do, all of our striving becomes a gift that we give back, not for our own honor, but for His. Not for our glory, but for His.

In gratitude.

That He would dare notice such as us.

Such as me.