I adore this quote from C.S. Lewis. It embodies many of the thoughts rolling around in my heart of late, thoughts I simply need to put into words.
God is calling through many sources and through inward questions, to consider the idea that there is so much more to life than what I see. So much more than what my worldly senses desire. More to life than owning a home, having a job and being a wife. Soul cravings only God can satisfy.
When I look at my cravings, I notice a tendency to look to physical things, like certain foods (*ahem* chocolate!), creating pretty things, relaxing with a good book, or spending time with my husband, to satisfy deep longings in my soul. Not that any of these activities are in and of themselves 'bad' (except perhaps eating too much chocolate...), but I haven't found any of them to be enough. I could never eat enough chocolate, never create enough pretty things and never spend enough time with my husband to fill my soul. Is it possible I am guilty of trying to fill God-given desires with His gifts, instead of Himself?
I think it is possible, and I am guilty. I think we have an enemy who whispers crafty lies as to what will satisfy. An enemy who tempts us to look to earthly things to fill our souls. An enemy who wants to take our focus away from the One who truly satisfies.
When I think back to my daily habits before the fire, I see this tendency to fill my soul on my own in an even more pronounced way. I was 'too busy' or 'too tired' to take daily quiet time with God, I ran around trying to be a 'good' teacher, a 'good' wife and a 'good' neighbour. But I soon found that 'I' wasn't enough. I burnt out. A huge part of my heart knew I was trying to fill a void. If only my circumstances would change (eg: get pregnant!), I would be fulfilled. I would try to focus on God, yet as days went by, I reverted to trying to live on my own strength. Not that I wasn't learning lessons along the way, but oh, how much deeper might I have learned if my heart was wholly focused and dependent on Him.
Little did I know just what that would take.
Standing here now, looking back at last spring, I see transformational growth in my relationship with God. I am a rather 'quiet' person, but underneath the 'quiet' there is a stubborn, strong will, and a massive natural bent to self-sufficiency. A bent towards looking at earthly things, like having children in my dream home and enjoying a nice bank account for security and fulfillment, instead of leaning on everlasting arms.
I learned a bit about leaning when He took my 'security' away. After the fire we had no home, and have learned to live off 25% of what we are used to earning. Talk about a blow to your personal security! Yet, because He had led me through hard times before, I knew I could trust Him.
Instead of hiding in bitterness, I ran into His arms and drew close to Him. Then, slowly and gently, He began the process of turning my heart. Away from myself, back to Him.
Do you know what I have found? I've found treasure in a field I would sell everything to possess. I've found that my 'quiet time' (making time each morning for reading the Bible and listening) is my absolute favourite time of the day. As I read His word, He speaks to my heart. At times He speaks in ways that involve tears, or in ways which bring a smile, encouragement or conviction.
Do I need a pretty farmhouse filled with chocolate and children to be happy? For truly, that would be my Promised Land (many thanks to Nikki for that post, it affected me deeply!). Am I waiting for my circumstances to change, thinking that will fill me up?
I was. And there are times when I still struggle - but I think I'm making progress.
I have found my heart only truly overflows when it is wholly focused on God. He Is... and isn't that the reason I am here, to serve Him and not myself? I forget sometimes! But yes, I am here for Him. This earth and all that is in it will pass away, heaven is my true home.
Ideal circumstances will not fulfill if my heart is seeking fulfillment in the circumstances and not in the Lord. His gifts will not fulfill if I am not focused on the source of those gifts.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"
I think Jesus is speaking about more than losing your life in a physical sense here. Could it be He is speaking about the giving over of our day-to-day lives for His sake as well? I must 'lose my life' for Him on a daily basis, to truly find life and fulfillment for my soul. My focus must be on His kingdom.
I've found I can best turn my focus to Him when I spend time each morning reading His word, giving thanks for His gifts throughout the day, turning to prayer for guidance instead of making decisions on my own, and listening to worship music. Little things in my daily routine which make a HUGE difference in my heart.
I am so thankful for a patient God. He is nowhere near being finished with me, 'losing my life' is a daily act of surrender. Yet He is faithful.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Laura Story - 'Blessings'
"We pray for wisdomYour voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe.
What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
Are Your mercies in disguise"