When the moving vans pulled away from our new home last Thursday I realized that a four-month process had come full circle. The Lyles had been relocated from the hustle and bustle of the Mall of Georgia area to the quiet outskirts of suburbia off of Spout Springs Road. God has been gracious to us and we are humbled and happy with His good hand upon us. New chapters in life are not only welcomed in our lives, they are very helpful in assisting us to get a panoramic understanding of God’s gracious work on our behalf. We are now breathing fresh air in both the physical and metaphoric sense. The pain of a heartbreaking 2011 has given way to the hope of 2012 and beyond.
What do you do when your “next chapter” moments are put on a prolonged pause? You likely know what it is like to wake up for long, long stretches where little is new, nothing is flashing neon, and not much glistens with fresh dew. It’s during times like these that we find our hearts becoming restless and the undisciplined mind starts to ponder on the possibility of making something happen for oneself. Maybe a new job would help…maybe a different hobby…perhaps a big purchase would usher in some vibrancy back into life. In extreme cases, unsettled hearts will seek out a new lover because the passion has long since ebbed out of the marriage they once believed would be forever. Whether it be the desire to move to a new church, change the color of your hair or plan a vacation to anywhere-but-here, each of us knows what it means to reach such a restless place in heart and mind that we cannot bear the thought of waiting n God to change things up.
So we change things up ourselves. And it never brings the relief we had hoped for.
Today my desire is to encourage the small number of you who are feeling a deep need for change. You have felt it for so long and so intensely that you have convinced yourself you cannot bear another week of waking up to the sameness that is now haunting you. I need to tell you that it is not an outside, external change that will satisfy your heart. God birthed a craving in you for the bliss of paradise while, curiously enough, not allowing you to have that desire presently filled. Each of us is born with longings and it is my belief that something all humans share is a longing for something more than life beneath the sun. Most people never realize that this longing is actually a soul-ache which gives expression to our need to be made whole with God and by God. The vast percentage of humanity lives to anesthetize this craving by the act of consuming. We consume food. We consume sex. We consume intoxicants. We consume material wealth. We live out our days like glorified Dyson vacuum cleaners, sucking in anything that we find along our path. Yet, as much as we can take in, we still find ourselves in quiet moments counting the beats of an unfulfilled heart.
At the risk of sounding trite and preachy I want to declare that only Jesus Christ begins to soothe that longing. Yet, after being a Christian for nearly eighteen years, I confess that I sometimes still hunger for something that I am yet to take in. I still have the propensity to try to satisfy a deep, spiritual hunger through shallow, unspiritual means. You and I who are followers of Christ have not yet fully comprehended (nor obeyed) the call to be content in Him alone. We struggle with importing Heaven’s tranquility into hearts too deeply rooted in earth’s offers and opportunities. Let me give you one word of suggested instruction: when your impulses tell you to satisfy your discontent with some tangible, visible objects, don’t give in. Wait a while. Let the impulse pass completely and see if you would still make the same leap. When your less-than-trustworthy heart tells you to find your contentment in a new person, a new change of scenery, a commitment to some new activity…please employ discipline to wait, think and reason through your thought process. Do the very risky thing – let God bring to you what He knows will conquer your craving. Stillness can be very difficult but I have always discovered it to be very rewarding.
Amy and the kids and I enjoy our new location. It’s nice, but it’s not forever. Jesus is forever and our hearts will never fully rest until we experience the true entrance into the time and place where our “now” merges with His forever. It is then that my own restlessness…and yours…will completely disappear.
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