There is one question all of us must eventually face: "Do I take the risk or play it safe?"
We ask it about life.
At one time or another, we've all failed. Perhaps you've failed in all three spectacularly - same as me.
Like when my marriage blew up. That terrible day that revealed betrayal.
I couldn't even talk to him. Friends had to step in. "Til death do us part" kept ringing in my ears. And I could feel the undertaker shoveling my insides out.
I needed to play it safe for my own sanity. To protect my heart from bleeding out of my skin. I needed to escape from the pain. Seek shelter from the hurt. Run from the sadness.
I wanted to throw things hard. To yell loud. To cry ugly. I did all three.
Somewhere deep inside resided a nagging question: "If children had been involved, would I have tried harder to reconcile?"
Perhaps. But I'll never know.
Closing the chapter was easier. Little risk. The marriage, it was all risk.
Trying harder was just too hard.
How do we ever reconcile the fact that we could have chosen a different path? A different answer? A different choice? Sometimes those "what if" questions can trap us in corners and beat us senseless.
So now, almost three years following my divorce, how do I process that nagging "perhaps?"
That's where hurt and the Healer collide. That place where you and I are enfolded by a love that never fails.
When we look up from the ash piles of our lives, bare our souls to the One who already knows all, and ask gut-wrenching questions like that, God does what only He can do:
We have a God who makes all things new. Who heals the hurt. Who brings beauty from the ashes regardless of who lit the match. Despite the decisions made. In spite of the paths chosen.
I don't feel brave writing this. Frankly, I feel exposed. Laid bare. My hidden fear has been freed from the cage for all to see: I feel like a colossal disappointment to God at times.
Yet I know His faithfulness overrides my feelings. That's when His amazing grace whispers gentle:
"Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39
Nothing separates us from Him.
One of the enemy's greatest weapons lies in tempting us to look back. To live in the past with its regrets and less-than-grace-filled choices. To drag us down and immobilize us. To render us ineffective.
So I'm looking forward ... toward God's promises. I take refuge in the fact that this is the day the Lord has made. This new morning. TODAY. I can't load it with yesterday's regrets or tomorrow's troubles.
Neither can you.
I am rejoicing in the gift of today. Of my immeasurable worth found in Him alone.
With this brand new sunrise, I cling to the grace He graciously offers. The love He recklessly lavishes. And His Son's sacrifice that redeems all who believe by faith that He restores. And saves. And forgives.
And so much more.
Thank you, Lord, for being the ultimate risk-taker.
Has trying harder ever been too hard for you?
We've all experienced days when we feel there's just nothing left to give.
We're depleted of energy. Out of time. Exhausted of patience. Fatigued of mental resources.
We feel empty.
On those days we find ourselves dehydrated. Simply trying to keep up with our chaotic pace of life has dried up our reserves. Then something happens that tips us right over the edge of the well.
Someone asks you for a small favor. Or a bit of your time. Perhaps even to add another project to your pile.
And that poor, unsuspecting person gets verbally filleted like a catfish for frying.
Those days tend to sneak up on us. We don't plan them. We certainly don't want them. When those empty feelings begin surfacing in my life, I notice they normally stem from one of three areas:
1) Technology has replaced relationships. It seems easier than ever to live an entire day without physically talking to a single person. Email and texting seems faster, so personal phone calls get delayed until we find spare time. But some days, spare time never surfaces. God created us with mental and physical needs to live in community.
Cure: Re-engage. Pick up the phone and chat with a friend, go to lunch with co-workers, or gather with family or neighbors for dinner. "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:25
2) The comparison game. She bugs us. You know who I'm referring to. The woman who seems to have the perfect children, doting husband, beautiful home, chef-level meal skills, and chip free fingernails. You look at your life in the light of that comparison and feel like a big, fat failure. However, what we perceive is likely far from accurate. She's not our measuring stick.
Cure: Focus on your own work. "Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else." Galatians 6:4
3) Neglecting time in prayer and God's Word: When the busyness of life and our crazy schedules run us dry, God's living water provides the re-hydration we desperately crave. Putting off time with the Lord seems easiest to reschedule because there's no accountability. Yet, over time, our reservoirs slowly dry up.
Cure: Schedule and protect that time on your calendar. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
When we feel empty, life gets tedious. There's only one place we need empty more than anything.
The empty tomb on Easter morning.
Resurrection emptiness gushes hope straight into our parched souls. That stone rolled away provided us access to the eternal well that never runs dry. Love that pours into our desert places to bring life.
"Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13
When you're running on Resurrection Empty, the hydrated life you live will draw others to seek His life-restoring well. Instead of running the rat race, you're running to win the prize that God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Fully hydrated. Fully alive. Full of His love and grace.
That gives a whole new meaning to running on Empty.
When do you experience emptiness? What category would you add? What wisdom can you share? I'd love to hear it.