“Return to me . . . even though you are exiled . . . I will bring you back to the place I have chosen . . .” (an excerpt from Nehemiah 1:9, TLB).
Sometimes we get so far out, we lose our way back. Sometimes the thing we’ve been exhausting ourselves to get is more obtainable by returning to God and receiving it.
In chapter 6 of my upcoming book, I write about a childhood vow I made that blocked the reception of every relational thing I needed to heal and develop emotionally into the man I was intended to be. I’m developing better now because I’m learning to receive, but old neural maps tend to lead me astray.
For example, an enjoyable trip to Florida was supposed to have resolved my depression. But after only two weeks of returning home, I found the insidious despair creeping back in.
There was no logical reason for it. A lot of good things were happening in my life—some even seemed miraculous. But there I was again, feeling unhappy, wanting my life to be different.
A good friend said I was placing my hope in the wrong place—on what I was trying to get instead of what had been already promised by the God I believe in:
- A saving out of all my troubles (Psalm 34:17, TLB)
- A plan to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB)
- An awaiting paradise with astounding things that are inexpressible with words (2 Cor. 12:3,4, TLB)
The advice was good, but it took me a while to accept it.
Pursuing What We Think We Want (and Can’t Get)
Can you relate to the feeling of resistance when someone pushes to edge ahead of you in a ticket line—how you squeeze tighter to hold your place?
That’s what happens when we fight to get what we want but can’t control, like a different set of life circumstances. The desire for what we want fights back even harder, and we exhaust ourselves trying to get it.
Instead, letting go of fighting for what we want would open space in our heart to receive something with even greater possibilities, and if it’s a promise from God, something that’s guaranteed.
Allowing myself to receive this truth explained the relief I began to feel as I accepted the shift in perspective my friend was talking about.
Receiving Something Even Better
As hard as I’ve tried to control my life, the only successful accomplishments I’ve ever experienced have been from those opportunities “brought” to me by God. I had to participate in the opportunities, but nothing truly effective happened by my sheer striving and determination.
Even the changes I needed to make in my heart didn’t happen from me figuring it out and doing it in my own strength. They came as the result of the goodness of a God who kept me out of trouble and worked in me to receive something far better than what I could have done on my own.
Interestingly, the idea for this article came later in the day, from continuing to appreciate the feeling of relief that came with applying my friend’s advice. I gave up trying to control what I couldn’t get to obtain guaranteed promises I could only receive.
Do you have pain and despair because you can’t get something you want? Would you be willing to give that futile effort up to receive something even better and guaranteed from the promises of God?