There’s got to be more than this.
It was an ordinary day about two years ago when this thought floated through my mind. I knew Jesus promised life to the full, but I wasn’t sure I was living it. Life was good by all earthly measures. We were in a sweet season in our marriage, our little family was growing and God was opening new doors. I knew I was His and my eternity secured. Yet, something deep inside insisted there was more life to be experienced.
At the time I was completely unaware of my own pattern of striving and hiding, and blind to the fear that fueled it. I was too busy living my life to deeply examine it. In the thick of striving and hiding, I was even doing what I thought was God’s will.
It was a regular morning walk on a familiar path when a friend casually asked, “Why do you always do so much?” The question caught me off guard and within seconds I realized didn’t know the answer. I always assumed “doing so much” was to be celebrated. I had never stopped to consider what force was driving me.
Have you ever wondered why you do that thing you do?
There is a pattern to the way we respond to the fear that presses on our hearts. There are patterns in the way we answer questions about our worth, ability and significance, and in the way we respond to worry, stress, conflict, boredom and feeling overwhelmed.
Why are you always trying to fix us? We’re fine.
These were my husband’s words in our first year of marriage, expressing his exasperation with my constant attempts to make our marriage better. I feared failure like the plague. For me, failure included not reaching my (and our) potential, and not putting forth my very best effort. Fear fueled my fixing.
I failed to realize God was after healing my heart, not simply fixing my behaviour.
I didn’t know how to let Jesus heal. I was busy being my own Bob the Builder— Can we fix it? Yes we can! The irony and hypocrisy is that I, too, hate when I feel someone is trying to fix me. It’s nails on the blackboard of my soul. I don’t want to be fixed, I want my need to be felt.
When my son was only a few weeks old, eczema surfaced on his once smooth, soft, perfect skin. Everyone had a quick fix. We tried many products and solutions. For a short while, symptoms would appear to improve but then without fail, they’d return.
I wasn’t interested in simply symptom management so I kept asking, seeking and knocking. I found a doctor whose approach was different. He suggested the eczema was a symptom of a disturbance beneath the surface. After testing, he was able to pinpoint food sensitivities that were interfering with my son’s immune system, wreaking havoc on other systems.
It was more than a surface problem needing fixing, it was a condition needing healing. As he healed, the symptoms disappeared.
What is the Bible about? Loaded question, I know. Can you answer it in one sentence?
If we know what the Bible is about, we know what God is about. And once we know a person, we then determine if we can trust them.
Over the years my answers have been all over. For a long time, the Bible was about how I was supposed to live and a constant reminder of how I didn’t measure up. My head knew it was good news but my heart didn’t quite feel the same. I was overwhelmed by guilt knowing I did not reach its impossibly high standard. But I’m hard-wired to strive, so I kept trying.
Have you ever felt turned around or confused while reading the Bible?
Me too. I’ve skimmed over names I can’t pronounce. I’ve finished entire chunks without a clue as to what I just read. I’ve felt like one truth contradicted another.
Perhaps somewhere along the way we believed asking questions was stupid instead of smart. So instead of asking, we slam the cover closed, shelve the Bible, and go find something we can succeed at, like watching Netflix.
But then Netflix asks if we’re still there and we feel even less alive and satisfied than when we started. Why?
y four-year-old excitedly opened the box containing his new birthday present — a Lego set. His expression gave away his disappointment with the 144 individual pieces laying in front of him. He pointed to the picture on the box wanting to know where "that toy" was.
Perhaps you've opened your own Bible and felt more like you're sitting amongst 144 individual pieces rather than "that toy."
Thanks to technology, we have unprecedented access to the best Biblical teaching through videos, podcasts, and blogs. We get to see and hear a lot of "that toy" but find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed amongst the individual Lego blocks we come across in our own reading of Scripture.
We have the privilege of receiving what someone else has taken the time to unpack and put back together. What we don't see is their long-time journey with the Word and their own struggle to understand, interpret and apply it. Even the most gifted teacher started with pieces and a set of instructions.
My 20-month old little man is exploding with attempts at communication.
Some are simple to understand like "wuf" (I see a dog), "dada Acco" (daddy's at work), and "ma" (more), while others require more skill in the interpretive department.
At mealtimes, he often makes a panting sound like that of a desperately dehydrated out-of-shape person exercising. I've had people look at me strangely, back to the little panting one, and then ask, "Is he okay?"
I laugh and nod. "That means he wants a drink of water."
Likewise, when studying Scripture, some passages can be a bit more straightforward when it comes to interpreting. For example, at first glance, "Be kind to one another," (Eph. 4:32) seems simpler to interpret than why 70,000 men died because King David ordered a census (2 Sam. 24:1-25).
My littlest man has been feeding himself since he was coordinated enough to get a fist full of food in the general vicinity of his mouth.
Recently, he was getting his hanger (hunger/anger) on, so I quickly buckled him into the seat and warmed up his lunch.
My friend scooped up a bite with his spoon and looked at me with surprise and confusion when he objected by turning his face away and pursing his lips closed.
He wants to do it himself, I told her.
She put his spoon down and only seconds later, he picked it up and happily shovelled his food into his mouth. He's my littlest big boy.
Recently, women I walk with have confessed to me that they don't know how to study the Word for themselves. This past weekend, we attended a conference together where quite literally, ever single session boiled down to, you need to be in the Word.
They know they need to; but they don't know how.