It is 11:42 pm and I am laying in bed with my dog, crying, and unable to sleep. All I can think about is God’s love. I am so overwhelmed by it, it’s everywhere I turn. More so then ever in my life, I just want to be where God is. I’m at a season in my life where I am making a lot of big decisions, and it feels as though my “future” is coming at me fast. It’s so easy to become confused and frustrated and unsure, especially when you are putting your trust in yourself and not in the Heavenly Father. (I am too guilty of this sometimes). In Exodus 33, Moses is having a chat with God where God is telling him to take the people to the promised land, but letting Moses know that God will not be with them, because they are a “stubborn people” and he would destroy them if he spent too much time with them. Moses pleads with God, saying “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15, NIV). Being the loving Father he is, he gives in and says his presence will go with them.
This verse really spoke to my heart, especially in a time where I am being forced to choose where I am going with my life. No matter where I go, I refuse to go anywhere without God. The older I get, the more independent I am expected to be. We have become so good at being independent that we have taken hold of the mindset that we don’t need anyone, that we can do it all on our own, that we should rely only on ourselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We have become so used to taking every step by ourselves, that we don’t even notice when we are walking without God. Relying not on him, but on ourselves. We call this “independence” and “growth”, yet it is detrimental to our relationship with Christ! The bible says that we should be so reliant on God that we “Trust in him at all times” and “pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8 NIV).
Refuge is defined as “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”
My past isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s rife with shame and pain and sorrow. I spent far too many years drowning in self abuse, self loathing, and loneliness. I was never able to get the help I needed because I was never able to show anyone just how badly I was hurting. I thought I was invisible. I thought that my pain went unnoticed and that no one, not even my closest loved ones, truly cared. Of course I was wrong. My friends and family would’ve been appalled if they knew how bad it was, and they would have stopped at nothing to heal all my brokenness. But depression is blinding. It alters your view of reality, and the only way to truly climb out of that seemingly bottomless pit is through the love of God. God loves me. He always has. He loved me at my lowest low and at my highest high. What makes the difference, is what I do with that love. The quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” is sadly, extremely true. And due to a series of very unfortunate events, no matter how much I was told, and how much I SAID that God loved me, deep in my heart I was unable to accept the fact that someone could truly love me. That someone could see every single piece of me and still call me beautiful, still want me, still love me. Whether I said it or not (and of course I never did), I could not believe that God would ever actually love me. I was worthless. I was too needy and clingy and awkward and annoying. I was ugly and fat and overly emotional. Who could love that? I felt rejected- by friends, family, and the God who created me.
Eventually I hit rock bottom, and as much as it hurt(and it occasionally still hurts if I’m honest), it was necessary. I lost every single ounce of myself. The things that made me who I am were gone, and I finally realized that if I didn’t accept God’s love, if I didn’t give all of my life to him IMMEDIATELY, and stop trying to be independent and act like I could do it all on my own, my life wouldn’t have lasted much longer. I needed to let God be my refuge. It’s all he had ever wanted. He wanted to hold me and love me and comfort me. He wanted to show me that I was worth something. In fact, I was worth so much that Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! He didn’t die for my highlight reel, he died for the person I was on the night I hit rock bottom.
When I gave control over to God, there was an immediate transformation. No, I was not healed of every single hurt over night. No, I didn’t suddenly gain this perfect life. I still do not have a perfect life, and there are still many things that God is working on healing in me. But I can finally feel a love that I never knew was real. Part of giving your life to God, is changing the things you said and did that were displeasing to Him. Giving up control to God may seem daunting, it may seem scary and awkward to make this kind of a decision. But it’s worth it. In exchange you receive a refuge, unconditional love, everlasting life, mercy, and joy unspeakable! This, this is living.
At the end of the day, when it’s dark and quiet and I am alone, God is with me. His love floods my soul and allows me to forget every terrible thing I ever did, and forgive every terrible thing that has been done to me. With him, I am someone that I had no idea I could ever be. I am whole. My heart, although still very fragile(I am literally a puddle of apple juice), is being guarded and treasured by the King. No words can adequately capture the love God has for me- and for you! Even when I am selfish, or forget to pray, or disobey him, his love reaches into the deepest parts of my soul. It makes me new. It makes me whole. And there is truly nothing better then that.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”
(Psalm 63:1-8 NIV)