Hope

Wednesday, 03 May 2017 15:35

Empty Spaces

Written by

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30, ESV


Lately, as I’ve sat across from people – whether they be my clients, a friend in a coffee shop, over the phone, or as I look into my own heart, there has been this theme of emptiness. Empty spaces. You know, those unmet longings and expectations and those seasons of restlessness. Maybe you have been trying for years to get pregnant and nothing has worked, over and over, and just when you think that the Lord is opening a door, it closes. Maybe in your marriage, your spouse has been withdrawing from you and you don’t know why. Maybe you just moved cities and are starting over. Maybe you’re single and desire to be married and you ache with longings. Maybe you just lost a relationship that you have been praying for. Maybe your child just moved away. Maybe a loved one just died. Maybe your health has been fading. Or maybe you just lost your job, or you’re still looking for that elusive position. Or perhaps you are in retirement and feel like you don’t have a purpose anymore. All of us, in many seasons, in different ways, will deal with empty spaces.

What do we do with them?

We try to fill them.

We fill them with a myriad of things. People. Stuff. Degrees. Relationships. Social Media. Drugs. Pornography. Eating. Movies. Sex. Busyness. Work. Service. Money.

Lately, I was asking the Lord for a promise for the empty places that I see around and within me. And this is what He in His gracious pursuit, whispered to me:
 

Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” -Psalm 107:9, ESV


Jesus wants to come and fill your empty spaces.

Do you notice how many of the things we fill ourselves with apart from Jesus are not bad in and of themselves? I find that it is the tendency of the human heart to restlessly wander around looking for something to fill the emptiness rather than to sit in the pain of that empty place and tell Jesus how much it hurts. We cry out to Him to let Him know the overwhelming sense of loss or hurt that we feel. We beg Him to come and fill us with good things.

How easy it is to jump on social media or numb ourselves with other things rather than to just sit. To be still. To do NOTHING. To just trust. Whew. How easy it is to want to rush onto the next thing to fill that seemingly empty season or to rush in to try to fix it. Rather than to just… let... it... be. Empty... because when it’s empty, that’s when we are hungry and longing. That is when Jesus works best.
 

Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) says, “…for my people have committed two evils: they have forgotten me; the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”


I love how this passage starts with reminding our wayward hearts that the problem is that we forget. I forget. I forget how much Jesus loves me. How much He wants to fill and satisfy me. And THAT is when I go and hew out broken cisterns for myself, to try to fill that void.

What about this?
 

Psalm 107:35 (ESV) says, “He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.”


Sounds like an oasis.

Sometimes what seems to us to be a desert of unmet longings is exactly where the Lord is in the midst of doing a new work that we can’t even see.

The miraculous thing is that the oasis formed from your desert isn’t just meant for you. It’s meant for others. Just a verse later:
 

Psalm 107 says, “And there He lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in…”


Let Jesus come and fill your empty places and watch Him turn those into places of refreshment for your soul as well as for the souls of others.

Your empty spaces can either become a broken cistern or an oasis. Which will it be?


Contributor: Rachel Kuchem, LMSW (Intern)

Thursday, 22 December 2016 18:04

Immanuel

Written by

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). –Matthew 1:18-23, ESV


As 2016 draws to a close, the concept of God as our Immanuel (God with us) is a theme that we all need as we see chaos in the world around us and even in our own lives and hearts. Jesus ultimately experienced what it was like to face the brokenness of the world and do so alone when He was on the cross so that we would not have to. 

Have you seen that old-time favorite Christmas show, a Charlie Brown Christmas? There is a scene towards the end when Charlie Brown, in a moment of despair, asked, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” and Linus steps in to quote Luke 2:8-14, sharing the Christmas story. Linus is the endearing character who is rarely seen without his handy security blanket, for which he is ridiculed by his peers. But then, as he quotes the angels telling the shepherds to “fear not,” he drops his blanket. This scene is full of application for us. Pastor Jason Soroski, in his now famous article entitled "Just Drop the Blanket," put it this way:

"The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears. The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves. The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to him instead. The world [of 2016] can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, [2016] is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.” But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found."

What “blankets” have you been clinging to for security? Maybe it is a habit. A relationship. An insatiable need for control. Whatever it is, know that you can lay it down. We loosen our grip not by looking to our blankets, but by following the example of Linus and looking to our Immanuel, God with us. He is our safety. He is our trust. Only then do our blankets begin to drop. May 2017 be a year of clinging to Him more closely.


Contributor: Rachel Kuchem, LMSW (Intern)

Monday, 02 December 2013 19:10

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Recovering Hope

Written by

Post-traumatic stress disorder, a profoundly intense response to profoundly dangerous experiences, manifests itself in fear, terrifying vulnerability, and lack of a sense of control. While these responses are often involuntary, Jeremy Lelek reminds us that they are still responses . . . and, thus, different responses are possible. Here he relates the narrative of creation, fall, and redemption to the experiences of PTSD, reminding us that the gospel speaks to our experiences with danger as part of its redemptive message. He points to the wisdom of God in our suffering and reminds us of the saving grace offered by Jesus, guiding readers to the peace and contentment found in seeking God’s glory.

Sample Chapter: /sites/default/files/files/Sample chapter(1).pdf