I was driving home the other night and a lyric of a song brought a sudden and unexpected flood of tears to my eyes.
“The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal.”
I immediately thought of how I am hungry – not for actual food, but hungry for so many other things in life. And how at times I am guilty of trying to steal – not actually stealing, but stealing in a sense of trying to take before the Lord gives.
As I continued to listen more closely, I was both convicted and encouraged. This song – Times, by Tenth Avenue North – goes on to list all the “times” when we may doubt God’s love for us:
The times that you doubt me, when you can’t feel
The times that you question, is this for real
The times you’re broken
The times that you mend
The times you hate me
The times that you bend
The times when you’re healing, and when your heart breaks
The times that you feel like you’ve fallen from grace
The times you’re hurting
The times that you heal
The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal
In times of confusion, in chaos and pain
How guilty I am of doubting God’s love for me in such “times.”
How guilty I am of attempting to steal that which God already has in store for me, the plans which He already has laid out for me, the blessings which He is already planning on bestowing upon me.
In Genesis 25 Esau sold his inheritance as the firstborn son to his brother Jacob… for a meal. Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford put it this way:
“[He let] his hunger overwhelm his concern for things of last value.”
Are we so focused on our hunger for the things of this world that we are starving ourselves from the things of the Lord?
Yesterday I was feeling so overwhelmed by this career as an actress and writer…. so fragmented in my efforts to succeed, so discouraged by putting my heart and soul into characters whom I’ll never get to truly bring to life. Just exhausted by it all.
I left all my work – auditions to prep for, emails to answer, junk to organize – and went for a run so I could hear from the Lord. And faithful as always, He filled my starving soul with the provision of His truths. This verse popped into my head:
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” – James 4:3
Ouch. But so true.
I say I only want success to help make the Lord’s name more famous, to be a light in this city and world full of darkness, to serve Christ more fully… yet why am I so anxious?If I get to the root of the matter, if I’m truly examining my heart in these “times,” I doubt God’s love and that He wants great things for my life. And I see that the things I want for my life are not always coming from a place of wanting to serve and bless the Lord but to serve and bless myself.
The truth is God is using me. Every day. It may not look exactly how I want it to look. But it looks exactly how He wants it to look. He is all powerful. He put the stars in the sky. He has me right where He wants me.The lyrics go on to tell us exactly what the Lord wants us to know, if we will seek Him above our earthly desires, if we will listen closely to His loving voice:
“I hear you say,
‘My love is over, it’s underneath, it’s inside it’s in between.
I’m there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame
I’m there in the storm
My love I will keep you by my power alone
I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been
I’ll never forsake you; My love never ends.
It never ends.’”
So when we doubt we are being used, when we are so full of longing, when we are so hungry that we’re tempted to steal, let’s remember God’s love for us, let’s trust in His provision, and let’s wait on His timing.
Whatever “times” we are going through, let’s listen closely. For when we do, we just might hear our sweet Savior say:
“My love is over, it’s underneath, it’s inside, it’s in between.”
We don’t need to starve ourselves. We have a loving and gracious Father who is waiting faithfully to fill us up with His love.