“God has shot his arrow and made my heart his mark…”
Another phase of soul emptying came when we landed in a seemingly forsaken post-Soviet land. Prior to this assignment my husband and I had lived in Bolivia, South America for seven years where we learned the language and culture, had four kids, worked with a team of movers and shakers and had our share of adjustments. So starting again in yet another unknown culture, and one of lesser appeal, I had nothing left to give. Though I wanted to be there, my heart was not yet. I wanted to want to learn the language, and I hoped to do something of help to the people of this land where God had supposedly been dead for quite awhile.
This place seemed to be paused in century-old ways with leftover Soviet concrete rubble and dilapidated pipes on display, with crumbling infrastructure alongside breathtaking scenery that no one seemed to notice…snow capped mountains, blue mesmerising lakes, jutting rock faces. A dusty, gold plastic amulet with Arabic writing swinging from the rear view mirror of the taxi exhibited the mishmash of cultures. Things were used and overused; overlooked and worn out, little shanty-like towns passed us; miles of stout concrete gingerbread-looking cottages lined up, smoking in the cold, fatigued haze. It was a long, frigid ride to our new home.
We arrived in the capital on a very dreary day in early September 1994. There was nothing of beauty to be found. Looking out of the third floor apartment window I saw the rusty, arthritic playground equipment, broken glass and old crusty men in the courtyard. That’s where my kids were supposed to play?
I had, in the back of my mind, decided the language was too hard and I would thus stay at home and just take care of the kids, the house and my husband. That’s about all I could muster up at the time. So my first week there I went out to meet another expatriate woman with five kids, thinking I’d get some sympathy. When she opened the door, she was in the middle of her language lesson, her kids were working on their schooling and she mentioned something about going to help at a clinic…
I had some talking to do with the Lord about comparison, about copping out, about relying on myself, about his plan and not mine. It’s been a long discussion.
Disillusionment has to combine with emptying ourselves of what we thought would or should be, if we hope to grow. Often facing disillusionment is just the beginning of real faith, otherwise it can lead to a reactionary betrayal of faith, throwing out the baby with the bath water. I had a long way to go in what seemed to be a tunnel of questions about God, church and how to live out truth. I clung to what I knew was true though I didn’t have many answers. It is amazing the power of our misconceptions and what it takes to break through them.
God goes to great lengths to show us what we wrongfully believe about him and ourselves. I had ideas about God that needed reworking and ideas about myself that were a result of living in a fallen world.
Free us Lord to really want the truth; whether it fits into our boxes or not.
The truth is what sets us free!
We are fractions of ourselves and He’s in the business of putting us back together. Difficulties in our lives that we endure are often more for Him to show us ourselves and who He really is. This emptying isn’t the Buddhist kind where you try to rid yourself of all desire (which strips us of our humanity) it is rather the kind that rids us of our boxes of limited thinking. And God is always blowing out my boxes!
Have a soul conversation:
- Acknowledge and listen for your self-talk (the underlying messages playing in your head. Like “I’m on my own” or “I’m not worth anyone’s love…”). Bring it into the open.
- Where have you been disillusioned? Or felt mislead by God?
- How might He want to redeem that?
“If your life is broken, it may be that the pieces will
feed the world. The loaf will feed only a little boy.”