Hello, Goodbye

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

Daddy, I want to find joy today, in little things. The frustration of coughing and the irritation of a throat sore is enough to negativize me. But I long to see beauty everywhere. And you open my eyes to see it. I see it in the present in early-morning blogging and Honey Nut Clusters and […]

No Such Thing as Perfect People

Do you ever wonder how Rachael Ray lives on a daily basis? Does she cook gourmet meals every night? Does she always put the pesto in those fabulous colored bowls on the side of each dish? Or Kate Gosslin. On Jon-and-Kate-Plus-8 with all her babies around her, she seemed to be in complete control. Is her house always spotless? Is SHE always spotless? How does a mother with over half a dozen kids find time or money to get her nails done and go to the tanning bed?

I have often wondered how amazing writers and speakers like Beth Moore and Elizabeth George and so many others actually live their lives. I mean, they have all the answers, right? They get paid to teach us how to get along with difficult people, how to overtake when we’re undertaken by the circumstances, and how to keep our lives quiet and calm. When a person’s life is constantly in the spotlight, can they possibly keep up good performance all the time? And yet, shouldn’t they have all the answers? So shouldn’t their lives be…dare I say it…perfect?

As I sit here with floods of emails, texts, and Facebook posts about my latest article, I understand what the spotlight feels like. And yet I look around me…I look at the day I’ve had and the things I’ve said and the attitude that permeated my being… and I know I’m far from perfect. Sure, the Lord has shown me some things that have helped me to understand life in a unique perspective and appreciate God’s ways more fully. But part of being human, and therefore being dust, is that every once in a while, a bad day is inevitable. My hair looks like pine sap…my nail specialist didn’t have time to do my nails (I had laundry to do)…and the kids are driving my patience away along with my sanity.

The one comfort I hold onto is that, as a fan of these ladies, I don’t expect them to be in tip top condition all the time. I’m sure Beth snaps at her husbands some days. She’s told us she does! (Can I get an “Amen!”?) And we all know that Kate yells at her kids, even on the show. Elizabeth doesn’t always feel like taking that daily walk that rids her of 20 extra pounds every year. And there have GOT to be some days that Rachael orders take out. This is good news for me! There will be times when I don’t take my own advice and I end up in the same hole I tried to help one of my girlfriends out of just hours before.

Maybe Joyce Meyer leads a perfect life. But until THIS mortal takes on immortality, I’ll just leave the dishes in the sink and pray that I can get a little closer to Jesus.