My life has been a series of hellos and goodbyes. Jesus gives me blessings disguised as people, jobs, and activities…only to ask me to give them up. At times, the aftermath pain seems worse than the initial joy. But I have come to realize that while I thought I had to have that thing, I didn’t really know what I wanted. Jesus always knew what I needed and wanted better than I did. Whether it was a person, or a possession, or an experience, I found that true fulfillment came when I was driven to find it in the Lord instead of getting it from something material.
I was sipping coffee with a friend one chilly Thanksgiving eve ago and discussing with her what I considered to be my losses. I was dropping phrases left and right like, “I gave up” and “I lost” and “God denied my request…” Despite the obvious Cara-centered problem, I had allowed multiple idols to take the throne of my life. With their granted powers, they had overtaken my priorities, my passions, and consequently, my joy.
She opened her Bible (so cleverly concealed in her large suitcase purse) and turned to Jonah 2:8. The Lord warns that when we focus on vain idols, we will throw away our hope of receiving from God. When I look to my blessings for my value, I am, in actuality, refusing the Love that I so desperately desire. Blessings do not love back; they simply point to the Ultimate Blessing. If I depend on my blessings to satisfy me, they become an idol to me, denying the supremacy of God. When my Savior, in His perfect omniscience, withholds something from me, He promises that I don’t need it. If having that “treasure” would have fulfilled His plan for my life, He would have given it to me. In abundance (see Psalm 84:11)!
What appears to be a loss suddenly takes on a new light when compared with the gain that I have received in Him instead. With my idols gone, I find myself crawling back to my Savior, back where I belong. And in its place, I have gained something far more eternal and permanent than I could ever have received from the thing that I lost. The times when God said “No, my Child,” were painful, but in the long-run not nearly as agonizing as if He had granted me my desire. When He denies a request, He permits His divine plan to continue in motion, uninterrupted. As Beth Moore puts it, God’s ‘no’ is just making room for His ‘yes’.
I imagine it like this. God has a box with my name on it. His omniscience and goodness determined before I was born the things with which He would fill my box to make my life complete. Every time I create my own idol and place it in my box, I am, literally, boxing out God’s plans for me. The more I try to stuff my own box, the more I crowd Him out. And the less I give way to Him, to that extent I will experience less of the fulfilled life He has for me.
Every time the Lord takes something away from me, He always has a replacement in mind. And it is ALWAYS better than what I was clinging to for dear life before.
Because, usually, it is more of Him.
*I wrote this article in 2009, but when the above-quoted friend posted a quote this week, it took me back to this period of my life. I so easily find myself back in the same situation. So thankful that this friend and aunt is not afraid to point me back to my Savior.
“If your pursuit of your idols is being stifled or thwarted, take heart: it’s because God loves you and is being merciful to you. Hosea 2:7-8”
Tara Leigh Cobble, September 7, 2013