Behold, a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.- Isaiah 32:1-2
We call them little things- guilty pleasures if you will.
We normalize them, and even celebrate them.
Sometimes, we define them as “self-care” or even hobbies.
At first glance, we wouldn’t be wrong about this defining.
Yet, “the Lord sees not as man see: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7
Recently, we had a faucet that had a broken part. It took us forever to finally call and get it fixed because it was such a subtle problem. There was no huge stream of water pouring out, only a small drip, drip, drip that eventually annoyed us enough to do something about it.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water“- Jeremiah 2:13, emphasis mine
I couldn’t tell you how long I have felt this way. From the outside looking in, nothing has changed. It’s tricky, this internal heart stuff. I have coined it “dry” or “weary”, and many close to me would chalk it up to the recent circumstances of our life and some of the new hard that we have had with our Bailey Grace.
But if I’m honest, I’ve known it must be more.
“For I, the Lord, do not change.”- Malachi 3:6a
He doesn’t change. He doesn’t change and I know this. I have seen Him provide strength and endurance and even joy in the midst of what the world would say was despairing.
It is because I know this to be true that even I haven’t been buying my own excuses of, “it must be circumstantial”.
This morning, my soul literally felt nauseous as I vaguely tried to plead with the Lord to refresh me. And then, it hit me. Nausea only comes about when there is something in that needs to get out. If my soul was feeling this way, maybe it was time to do an inventory check of what I’ve been filling my soul with in the first place.
I want you to hear me loud and clear when I say that my time in the Word has stayed consistent, we have been in community regularly, there is not some huge blaring sin I can look at and say, “Well that needs to go”. It’s important that you know this because as I type these words, I’m confident this isn’t just a message for me but for you (otherwise, what are we doing here in the first place?!)
As I took a minute to flat out say to the Lord, “God, I feel internally gross and I don’t know why. Help, please”- He quickly brought to mind a handful of things that had heart shifted from good gifts to soul fillers.
“All things are lawful but not al things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up.”- 1 Corinthians 10:23
We are about to talk through some theological gray areas. Can we all just agree to stay calm and look past theological differences (if they come up) for the sake of unity?
I’ve told this story several times to various groups, so forgive me if this is old news to you. Taking a longer shower, relaxing, and taking a minute to yourself are absolutely not bad things. Having a glass of wine is not a bad thing. Yet, there was a season of my life where I would abuse my “shower and get a second alone” time as a place to sulk in how hard I felt like our life was. I would turn on depressing music, pour that glass of vino, and request the Holy Spirit to stay quiet for just a few minutes while I had a short, hour long pity party. From the outside looking in, no one would’ve ever known all the ugly that was going on within during that time. But I knew, and God knew, and it was creating a barrier between the two of us.
Eventually, I hated that barrier enough to challenge my own thoughts during that time. These days, if I do take the opportunity to shower and relax, I try and make sure that I make it clear to myself and the Lord that He’s both welcomed and invited in that place.
Simple yet profound.
So, this morning as I found myself feeling disconnected, I had an aha moment as I asked the Lord to reveal to me whatever junk I wasn’t recognizing as junk; and I want to share some things He revealed to my heart. My shifters are probably different than yours, but like a subtle leak in a faucet, they are all bound to slowly steal our joy.
Beloved, God looking at our heart means much more than giving up habits or behaving better or checking off a list of spiritual to-do’s that follow the rules of whatever church you are a part of. No. God looking at our heart means that what He’s going for is greater and more important than simply the surface. The fact He’s looking at your heart tells you the beautiful truth that He’s after your heart! He’s not pursuing your behavior or your actions. He’s pursuing YOU- the true you that by the grace of God found in Jesus doesn’t fade.
When we get to the throne of God, we won’t be worshipping our good deeds or service opportunities- we won’t be focused on other people or Christian accolades- it will be HIM that we are praising! We will be bowing down to Him- therefore the ONLY obvious satisfaction both in this life and the next must be have Him at the center.
You can fool yourself or others into thinking He’s the affection of your heart- but you can’t fool Him. And- we can’t offer a freedom that we aren’t walking in ourselves.
If your soul is feeling nauseous, might it be because you are allowing a lot of little things to pile up and shift things around in a way you were never meant to live?
God loves us too much to allow us to bring anything into our lives that carries the weight of our joy or happiness. Only He was meant to provide us that! He will always permit us to be temporarily disappointed for the sake of eternal satisfaction. ALWAYS.
Have you ever thought about the fact that some of the very things you are looking to find life in are the things that are killing you- not just physically, but your soul? (And-, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”- Luke 9:25).
Christ follower, these words are for you: If you are feeling spiritually blah, it is not because God has moved or changed. It may not even be because of some blatant sin, but I guarantee you that distraction or “lawful but not helpful” things are crowding spaces that only God Himself is meant to fill. Today, I’m taking a moment to allow God to do some soul work- a heart shift if you will.
Satisfaction is found nowhere else.
May we drink from the well that never runs dry, bringing our thirst only to Him.