What were the things that romanced your heart as a girl? Was it horses in a field? Was it the fragrance of the air after a summer rain? Was it a favorite book like The Secret Garden? The first snowfall of winter? Those were all whispers from your Lover, notes sent to awaken your heart’s longings. And as we journey into a true intimacy with God as women, he often brings those things back into our lives, to remind us he was there, to heal and restore things that were lost or stolen.
-John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
I suppose we all must combat doubt. But still, when I take the time to step back and discover doubt dwelling in my heart, it terrifies me. My senior year in high school, I had a dream that I believe was from God that told me no matter how much proof he gave me, it would never be enough to satisfy me. And I think he was absolutely right. How much has my God done for me? None of my most fundamental beliefs about God are based on something I read in a book or heard from someone else – I wouldn’t believe in a god at all if the Lord himself had not demonstrated his truth to me personally. He speaks to me a lot more directly than he speaks to a lot of people I know. I don’t know how to explain it much better than that, but my point is that God has proven himself to me more times than any human being has the right to ask, and yet I doubt his faithfulness. When I feel as though God has been quiet for a while, I begin to worry that he has finally left me. It’s like I can’t help it. When I feel like as though God is speaking but I can’t understand what he’s saying, I begin to worry that my understanding of his communications will always be limited to my own speculation and total shots in the dark. Lately, the latter has really been troubling me. I’ve felt like the Lord is still very present and vocal, but like I have no idea what he’s trying to say to me. And that really frustrates me because, in a lot of ways, it defeats the purpose of God’s speaking to me at all if I can’t figure out what he’s trying to say.
I’ve felt for the past several days that he was sending sign after sign to me all saying the same thing. I didn’t trust myself to be able to discern signs from wishful thinking about something very personal to me, and so I told God he was going to need to be very clear with me. And then God was more pointed in his signs. The trouble was that, even conceding that the signs were signs, they were only pointing to a noun, not a verb – not to anything I should actually do. I knew, again, that I couldn’t trust myself to guess what I should do about something so personal, and so once more I told God that he needed to be particularly direct with me. He didn’t have to be, though. Last night another sign slapped me in the face and, in my frustration, I sought God time in a sermon that the signs made me think about. And I think that’s exactly what God intended. The sermon spoke into my heart, addressing unresolved issues that I had with the person to whom the signs had pointed, issues that I had been struggling with a lot more lately but to which I hadn’t given much thought. Last night, the Lord brought together all the bits and pieces that had been making me confused – the signs, the unresolved issues in my heart, the prayers that I was worried weren’t going to be heard or answered – he fit all the confusing pieces together into a comprehensive puzzle, and revealed his faithfulness to me once more. Last night, God emptied me of a lot of pain that I’d known was there but that I hadn’t realized I’d been afraid to face, and he poured into me a lot of trust and awe that overwhelmed my soul with wholeness and praise.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
LORD, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
I think there are a lot of important things for me to remember from what happened last night, and what has happened so many times before now. First of all, I need to remember that there are always going to be highs and lows, ups and downs, “mountains and valleys” as they say. That doesn’t mean that God has left me or that I have fallen so far that I can’t hear his voice anymore. They just happen. Secondly, I need to remember that God is perfect in wisdom and power. He knows what’s going to be the best way to communicate with me and the best timing for all such communication. I don’t have to freak out if I feel like I’m missing the message – my job is just to pray, seek counsel, and then just keep my eyes and ears open. Thirdly and most importantly, I need to remember that God is faithful. That’s an essential part of his nature with which I seem to struggle a lot. Whenever things start to feel a little off in our relationship, my first nagging instinct is to fear that he’s finally abandoning me. I don’t doubt that nothing wounds me more than abandonment, and that nothing would devastate me more than God’s abandonment. That’s what broke my heart in the days right before Christ came for me – the thought that God was great and God was there, but that he didn’t want me and wasn’t coming for me. But I have to realize that this is my weakness, not his nature. God has done nothing to earn my fear of abandonment, and I have to believe that he never will. And do you want to know the best part? Just now, in processing all that’s happened, I realized that I’m never going to have to convince myself of that. God is going to be there, every day for the rest of my life and always, to prove to me again and again and again that he’s not going anywhere and that his love for me is unfailing. Just typing that makes my heart feel so indescribably full. I hope that my lips will never fail to praise my perfect King.