Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Empty Places.

There is no story so sad as one of a woman who lives her life trying to please a man who never returns her devotion. Last night as my friend led an excellent class on the life of Jacob. I was again struck my Leah, Jacob's first wife. Dear Leah, given to Jacob deceptively by her own father, Laban, when all along Jacob wanted her younger prettier sister Rachel. Poor Leah, unwanted from the moment Jacob found her lying next to him the morning after a candlelit wedding ceremony.

Did Jacob jump out of bed when he rolled over to find Leah there instead of his true love? Did he leave Leah crying into her pillow confused and alone? My heart breaks when I think of those first few moments when Leah realized she was the second runner up, the less attractive. Jacob worked for fourteen years to earn Rachel. He was forced to marry Leah. He never wanted Leah from day one.
When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29:31
Surely my husband will love me now. I have a few friends who have spoken these very words. Surely, after I've done this, I'll be loved. After I've lost weight, had another baby, made more money, changed my hair, then he'll love me. Then I'll be accepted. Then he won't want that other woman. Then I'll be good enough.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Genesis 29:32
Leah, the unloved, how she walks around in despair living day to day depressed knowing her place! Her hopeless situation was seen by God. He hears her. He continues to bless her, but does she really see it? Does she get it? Is she still trying to earn Jacob's love? Or is she allowing the creator to provide love for her?
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. Genesis 29:33
It isn't sinking in yet, Leah. Three healthy boys into this ill-fitted relationship and Jacob is still not into you. God is giving you joy through children, but you don't get it. Dear Leah, you are trying to fill your life with love from everywhere but from where it really matters.

God is good to me. I live a luxurious life in a country where I am free to come and go and worship as I please. I have a warm home. I have family who love me. Yet, there are holes in my life. There are days when I feel so lonely. There are bad days when something seems missing and the ache is more than I can bear. When those holes in my life gape empty I attempt to fill them myself. I fill them with food. Then I step on the scale and self-loathingly decide to run a few more miles. I stare in the mirror and berate the reflection and I fix me with a new hairdo. I buy things. I become malcontented with my blessings and blame those holes, those empty places, on my lack of stuff. I work more hours deciding that if I only make more money then I'll be filled. I determine to fill those holes, and it never works. After my futile attempts, I'm still lonely. I'm still unsatisfied with my reflection. I'm exhausted.

Moreover, some dear ones fill their emptiness with loveless affairs, alcohol, or drugs. Some of us fill our emptiness with temporary passions that only cause more pain, more solitude. Some of us simply live in want of more thinking that life is always better for someone else.

Leah is trying to fill that empty space. There is a cavern in her heart and she desperately needs love, affirmation, and attention. Leah tries to fill it on her own. It isn't as if Leah doesn't deserve love. Look how hard she works! She painstaking pleads to earn the love she desires, and time and again her attempts fall short. Leah is left standing alone with another baby to hold watching Jacob devotedly and gently hold Rachel's hand.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. Genesis 29:34
This time she gets it. This time she gives credit to the life giver, the gaping emptiness filler. This time Leah praises the LORD. At Judah's birth Leah lets go of trying to fill a space that only her Father God can fill. And He does indeed fill that empty place in Leah's heart. Our sweet Leah never gets to see with her own weak eyes the true blessing of that last baby boy. Through the line of Judah, the child that brought Leah to praise, God blesses the earth with Jesus. Through Leah's praise and letting go, God gifted the world with the Savior, our permanent emptiness eraser.

It is enticing to attempt to fill our emptiness with anything but Christ. How often will we break our hearts as we try to patch up our empty places? Our temporary emptiness bandaids pale in comparison to the healer of all brokenness. I take comfort in that it took Leah years and several pregnancies to figure this out. The love of God and his provision is the only way to heal our loneliness, brokenness, and emptiness.

Father, fill the void within us with you and your ever-present healing love that never fades.
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Revelation 5:5

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I don't want to be a part of the noise that adds to the craziness of your life. I have not written in a while. Mostly, I blame one sentence that I heard in the movie Contagion. I don't remember the situation or context. I know the fateful quote occurred somewhere between Gwyneth Paltrow's unfortunate autopsy, the mass graves and my urge to run out screaming and scour my hands. Truthfully, I missed a big part of the movie all due to this quote,

"Blogs are graffiti with punctuation."

According to the Online Business Journal (Phoenix) the average adult is bombarded with more than 600 advertising messages in one day. My guess is if you Facebook or do online social networking that number shoots up significantly. This number only references common ads, TV, radio, print etc. It does not account for other noise: post after post on Facebook begging for your attention, email after email that just missed your spam filter, and blogs like mine coming your way begging for notice.

I guess when I write I hope to edify or encourage someone out there. Digging deeper and introspectively speaking, I need a venue to express my thoughts because I struggle to express them aloud. So, I write it down and arrogantly click the 'publish' button as if someone finds my rants thought provoking. Recently, my blogging friend and amazing writer, Pam, spoke to this near psychotic inner battle of arrogance versus insecurity regarding writers. She is right. It is a nerve-racking business to attempt to publish not meant for the faint hearted or over-sensitive. Blogging is easy. I type. I rant with or without an audience. I get the reward of expressing myself without the 'dear John' letters from Magazines or Publishing houses.

Noise. The truth is my little banjo can't compete with the marketing marching bands out there. Our American culture and philosophy throws itself at us like a desperate whore that hasn't eaten in days. It looks pretty and the price is right, but after the cheap thrill all that remains is loneliness and an empty wallet. The mirror reveals who the true prostitute is. We are used and manipulated by a culture that won't love us back. We listen to the noise, buy into it and try to blend in with the spoon-fed masses.

Noise. I've reached a certain age and people pleasing matters little to me. If I am to make noise, I will speak what my heart believes and not apologize. If I'm so moved to share what Christ has done in my life I won't hesitate to share it even through something as ridiculous and mundane as blogging. I will spray paint my faith on every corner.

Noise. If our culture will ever change, admittedly I do not believe it will, I will be one who will make noise for self-controll and Christ centered lives.
I will make noise to remind everyone, myself included, that life is not a new purse or shoes.
Life is Christ, all else is truly vanity.
Time thieves come to steal and manipulate us.
Christ remains faithful, which is why he is oft forgotten.

Christ is my muse and this is my medium. I may anger more than a few, but if one person hears my voice and even considers Christ my work is done. I simply can't go on if not to speak of Him. I love Him too much to be silent even if that means I look the fool.

Rest assured, dear ones, there is a battle raging. There are warriors out there ready to pounce and tell you how stupid your faith is. There are beautiful sirens singing lovely songs of wealth and superficiality. There are time thieves that will grow fierce when you must chose between them and Christ. You will be punished for your faith. You will lose friends. If anyone tells you the Christian life is easy, they may be on crack. Christianity is only easy if you ignore the gospel and make Christianity a logo and/or your political affiliation.

So, if you are looking for a life of loving the unloveable and undeserving,
if you are prepared to be mocked and made the idiot for believing in an awe inspiring creator,
if you are ready to forget yourself and lead of life of self-control,
if you love to hang out with the sinners, homeless, needy, smelly, diseased believers,
if you are ready to admit to not having all the answers but cling fiercely to the one who does,
if you are ready to admit Christ is Lord and make noise for the sake of the one who died,
then join the ranks of Christian.

Otherwise, turn up the volume on the TV and pretend we aren't here.

"Whoever has ears, let them hear." Matthew 11:15