The Empty Places
This is the first blog post for The Overflowing!
I had started a blog awhile back, but never went anywhere with it... I think I only wrote two posts and then it just sat there.
But now, I have started The Overflowing to encourage women in their walk with God.
My own walk began 17 years ago when I was five. I have a deep desire to know Him more and more each day, and I long to help others know Him more. Because true life is only found in knowing Jesus.
If you long to grow in Christ, to find your identity and purpose in Him, to walk in His truth and make a difference for His kingdom, then read on. I hope by sharing what God has taught me in my own life through His Word, I can be an encouragement and help to you.
The name "The Overflowing" speaks of calling and desire.
The calling and desire to become so full of Jesus, that one overflows and begins filling others. With this in mind, I thought it would be fitting to write my first blog posts about finding fulfillment in Jesus.
I looked up the definition of "fulfill", and here are some of the meanings I found:
1. to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise
2. to satisfy
4. to finish or complete
3. to develop the full potential
Some synonyms for "fulfill" are satisfy, perfect, please, accomplish and achieve. Some antonyms are abandon, forget, neglect, destroy and ignore.
To find fulfillment, something is needed that can carry out all promises, satisfy me, make me complete, and develop me to my full potential. Something is needed that won't neglect or abandon or forget me. That's a pretty tall order. Especially when the reality of life hits: the less-than-ideal situations and circumstances that are anything but satisfying; the raging emotions that are anything but perfect; the ignored feelings and forgotten promises; the mistakes and failings that just don't measure up; the dreams that seem impossible to accomplish.
Is fulfillment really even possible? It is when it is found in Jesus.
Here are some promises from God's Word:
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," Jesus says in John 10:10
"Praise the Lord, and forget not all His benefits... who satisfies your desires with good things..." Psalm 103:1, 5
"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3
So Jesus promises a full life. He promises to meet all needs and to bring purpose. Then why don't I always feel this satisfaction? Why do I at times feel discouraged and discontent? Why do I have times of feeling empty?
I recently did a Bible study by Lysa TerKeurst titled What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. In this study there were a few pages written on "empty places". The content of these pages has stuck with me since first reading them, because I could really relate to what Lysa was saying:
"I sometimes find myself getting caught up in my own weariness and grumbling over the empty places in my life. These are all the places that chip away at my contentment, that nag me into thinking I'm being cheated out of something somehow... There are things in my life, little and big, that fall short, don't meet my expectations, and cause grumpy feelings inside my heart. Do you sense these empty places in your life too?"
These "empty places" could also be called "if only I hads".
If only I had a better figure...
If only I had a husband...
If only I had more money..
If only I had more friends...
If only I had a different job...
When we think these thoughts, we choose to base our contentment and satisfaction on these things. We are hoping to somehow be fulfilled by filling all of the "if only I hads". These are the kind of thoughts Satan wants me thinking, because when I focus on the empty places, I am not focused on Jesus.
It's okay, even good, to dream and set goals for your life, but when we base our identity and worth on whether or not these dreams are being achieved, we will be unsatisfied in life. Our contentment, joy and satisfaction will ebb and flow, not remain constant and steady. Each time something goes well, we are on cloud nine, but each time things fall short we, as Anne of Green Gables put it, are "in the depths of despair".
One of my dreams is to be a wife and mom. I look forward to the day when this dream is a reality. But in the present, it can be so easy for me to base my identity on this desire. I can think, "I'm not married, so I must not be lovable." When I base my worth on the fact that I am not married, I end up feeling pretty lousy about myself, my situations and even the loved ones I do have. Unrealistic expectations come into my mind; like the idea that when I get married, everything will be perfect. I'll feel loved, beautiful, appreciated. Everything a girl wants!
And when I live with these expectations, with this as the basis for my worth, I end up living an "in-the-mean-time" kind of life. I'm not married, so in-the-mean-time, I do these things, but my life and purpose won't really begin until that "if only I had" is filled.
But I don't want to live that kind of life. I don't want my fulfillment to be based on the ever-changing situations of life or on my emotional ups and downs. I want it to be found in Jesus, the Rock, the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
And I can live that full life. Jesus has promised it. It is His will. Not just when those "if onlys" come about. Not just "in-the-mean-time". But right here, right now, and always, even in the midst of all the crazyness, all the busyness and all the emotions of life. And you can live this life, too.
So how do we live in this promise of a full life? What do we do about these empty places that leave us feeling, well, empty? How do we stop thinking the "if only I had" thoughts?
Well, here is the advice Lysa gives in her book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God:
Replace each "if only I had" you find yourself thinking with a promise from Scripture.
Instead of me saying, "If only I had a husband, I would feel loved", I say, "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord!" (Romans 8:38-39)
I am loved by God. And no hard situation or emotional roller-coaster will change that. No boyfriend or husband, or lack of, will change that.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing more on finding fulfillment in Jesus. But for a start, begin replacing all your "if only I hads" with a Scripture. Write it on an index card, or in a journal, post it to your mirror. Whatever works for you.
Romans 12:2 tells us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Let God's truth renew your mind, change your thought pattern and bring encouragement.
Need some help finding a Bible verse? You can go to biblegateway.com and search by words or phrases. Or, leave a comment telling me what type of verse you're looking for (one about peace, love, hope, etc.), and I will gladly find some for you!
As we focus on Jesus' truth and promises, I think we'll find those empty places and "if only I hads" begin to disappear.
The post The Empty Places first appeared on The Overflowing.
All Scriptures taken from the NIV, copyright 1984
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