Thanksgiving is two days away. For obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking about things that I’m grateful for, and reminiscing about God‘s goodness this past year, even though in many ways it has been a difficult one to walk through.
Transition has been the word for this year, as I have watched so many areas of our life shift around, affecting pretty much every relationship. Many friends have stepped out or distanced themselves from us, several others have stepped in. New connections have been made. We have stepped into new business and ministry opportunities. We are still bouncing around among a few churches. All of these changes have been very uncomfortable for me.
Often times I view things in the negative, instead of the positive. Yet, when I look back, I can see God’s steady hand guiding us through it all, and I am beginning to understand how the lessons we’ve learned have been invaluable.
The most valuable thing of all is I am finding that the Father is drawing me closer to His heart.
Before I was married, I went through a season of dating God. The commitment was that for six months I would not date any man, but instead devote my attention, love, and time on God. During that time frame, I reached a place of contentment with God that had not known before. I was satisfied with God alone as he was fulfilling every need in my heart.
It was during this time that my husband came into my life. I had longed to find the man of my dreams for so long. When he was finally standing in front of me, I refused to go on a date with him until my commitment to God was completed. How funny. God made sure my heart was completely His, before releasing me to another.
In recent months, I have felt like God has pulled me into his heart like that again. He’s asked me to come away with Him, to put my focus on Him as much as I can. Honestly, it’s been tough with so many responsibilities of life pulling at me. He has cut away many relationships with friends and even some family. Sometimes, I have felt like it’s back to just me and Him. It has been a painful pruning at times. Honestly, I’m sorry to say that much of the time I’ve complained about.
Yet, the longer I’m gazing on Him and spending time in fellowship with Him, I feel my heart coming to a place of being satisfied with God alone. This place of contentment has been foreign to me in the past years, but I’m finding it is filled with His peace, His joy, and His deep love for me. Most of my life, those emotions eluded me, until the last few years, as I’ve walked into more healing.
I feel my heart settling down, and I am beginning to rest in Him alone. I’ve never been in this place before, but it is a beautiful place that I’m coming to value more than anything else in my life.
It doesn’t mean that challenges don’t come. In fact, when they do come, and my peace is ebbing away, I am quickly realizing that I need to get back into this secret place with God. I think it’s what Psalm 91 refers to when it speaks of dwelling in the secret place.
I have thought about how this satisfied place with God corresponds with thankfulness. When I have a thankful heart, I am satisfied with who God is and what comes from His hand. I’m looking outside of myself to Him to fulfill me, and selfishness melts away like snowflake on my window pane. The attitude of gratitude comes easier when my focus is on the goodness of God, and how He displays His glory through His goodness to me and to others.
A few months ago, I found myself doubled over a trash can heaving my guts out so that I could relieve the excruciating pain in my side caused by a kidney stone that was stuck. The only thing that relieved the pain was vomiting, which was happening every fifteen minutes or so. In the past, this would have been extremely traumatic for me, but as I hung my head over the can, I felt held, even comforted.
I heard clearly in my mind, “Carolyn, pain can’t really hurt you.” I continued hearing those words over and over again. “Pain can’t really hurt you.”
Right dab in the middle of being ready to meet Jesus, I felt His peace envelope me. I know this sounds crazy, like a Paul and Silas from the prison cell moment, but through my gagging, I began to praise Him. Words spoken by Bill Johnson rang in my mind, that when my heart is broken by grief or pain, that is a place like non other from which to praise the Lord. It is a pure praise that I can offer God, unlike any other time. So, I did. That night that large stone miraculously dissolved and I cancelled the surgery scheduled the following day.
If I can continue to operate out of thankfulness and gratitude for everything God has done, but more than that for who God is, even in the worse of circumstances, then what can the enemy bring against me? What can separate me from the love of God?
This is a beautiful place to be, and a place that my heart longs to stay in. It is the secret place where I hide in the love of my Father. In this rest, this peace, this belonging is where my soul, spirit, and body are nourished, flowing with His grace, His goodness, and His love. It is satisfaction in God alone. This is all new to me, and like I said I have fought against it many times, but this is where I long to stay with Him.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May you find that place of rest and be satisfied with His great love for you.