I must tell you that I have had to fight to get from living in empty to living in His fullness. I’m still fighting daily to live in His fullness and truth.
After mom’s death, I had no idea of how intense the battles (and wars) would be that I would fight within my heart for His truth. Grief is such an ugly journey. . . full of many ups and downs.
John 10:10 has become a very special verse to me in the last few years. As I was deeply struggling in my grief, anger, and spiritual questioning, God led me to this verse. Jesus says, “I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” One author paraphrased the verse to read, “The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I have come to bring them life in its fullness.”
I seriously doubted the truth of this verse for months. My life felt anything but “abundant”. It seemed to me that the devil had won and I would never experience a full life again. Satan is the Ultimate Deceiver! He is downright ugly and plays cruelly! He wants to take me captive. .. and he wants to take you captive. And very often, he slyly pulls our hearts and minds away from the truth by using our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences to pull the engines of our mind and heart rather than allowing Truth to direct our minds and hearts. Our experiences and emotions cannot be our guide. Every event in your life must be understood and interpreted by the Scriptures. For the God revealed in Scripture doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6)
So, this verse sat in my kitchen windowsill for months! I would read it over and over aloud as I washed dishes (which is ALOT!). I would beg God to show me that abundant life! I would beg Him to help me believe that He truly offers us an abundant and full life. We all want to live abundantly. .. to live life in its fullness! How I longed to know the abundant life!
I kept asking myself, “How do you live abundantly and live life in its fullness. . .especially when your world is falling apart and you are experiencing a deep brokenness of heart?”
God was beginning to teach me a deep truth (a way of life) that would lead me to His fullness.
Here is what I am learning. . .
I am learning that to move from empty to experiencing a full and abundant life, then I must constantly preach truth to my heart. What does it mean to “preach truth to yourself?”
Preaching truth to myself means I must remind my heart over and again of Who God Is. . .I have to take the Word of God (which is Truth. . .Jesus Christ is the Living Word. . the Way, the Truth, and the Life) that speaks a truth about God and I repeat those words back to Him-regardless of how I feel! God, in His amazing grace, gives us the Holy Spirit to help us do this. The Bible says in John that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.
Tim Keller says, “On a daily basis we’re faced with 2 simple choices. We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about His unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross through His Son Jesus!” We can choose to give in to our feelings (which can be very strong in our empty and broken places) or we can preach His truth to our hearts!
Let’s look at another familiar passage in the Psalms. I’ve completely fallen in love with God through the Psalms. God gives us such deep insights into His heart for us. In the Psalms we read the heartfelt cries of inner agony, fear, despair, depression, guilt, grief, anger and hopelessness of the psalmists. In the Psalms we learn that it’s ok and right to lament, grieve, and cry out desperately to God. Isn’t God such a gracious and good God to give us the Psalms?
Psalm 42:3-6 was written by David as he addresses himself.
“My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?” These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation, and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.”
I love the way Tim Keller in his book, Walking With God through Pain and Suffering, explains this passage of Scripture. He says this. . .
Psalm 42 is an intense, sustained, and eloquent prayer. He is “pouring out his soul” to God. What does that mean? First, to “pour out your soul” means to get into one’s own heart. It means to look honestly at your doubts, desires, fears, and hopes. But notice that this is not abstract self-examination but, rather, something he does before God. This man is not over in a corner looking at himself, he is exposing his inner being to God. This is crying, longing, reflecting, remembering—all before God.
The other thing to notice is that the psalmist is not merely listening to his heart but also talking to it. He is addressing himself when he says, “O my soul.” This is something all people in the midst of suffering and trials must remember. Yes, we must listen to our hearts. We must learn what we can about ourselves by an honest look at our feelings. But we must not only listen to our hearts, we should also talk to them.
We may hear our heart say, “It’s hopeless!” but we should argue back. We should say, “Well, that depends on what you were hoping in. Was that the right thing to put so much hope in?” Notice how the psalmists analyzes his own hopes—“Why are you so cast down, o my soul?” Notice that he admonishes himself. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.” The psalmist is talking to his heart, telling it to go to God, looking to God.
D.M. Lloyd-Jones says in a sermon on this text, “You must go on to remind yourself of who God is, and what God is and what God has done and what God has pledged himself to do. . .Then end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with the man, “I shall yet praise Him. . .for he is my God.”
David preaches truth to his own heart and reminds himself of who God is! We must do the same!