Experience the glory of God by coming to Him when you’re most empty, most hungry, and most in need.
by Kristen Kill
“I JUST DON’T KNOW IF WE can do this anymore. If we keep going like this, I’m afraid we’ll have nothing left. I’m so frazzled and threadbare. It’s just not sustainable.”
The words rolled off my tongue with ease. It wasn’t the first time I’d said them, and it wouldn’t be the last. They were on repeat; one of a bevy of phrases I often used to carry my fears and plop them in my husband’s lap when I was feeling particularly anxious. As I spoke this time, he just looked at me with sad eyes … silent. When he finally talked, his words resonated deeply, “Maybe our life is more about how we spend than what we store.”
Our story of life in Manhattan certainly wasn’t unique. Almost everyone we knew had come from somewhere else, somewhere slow-paced and expansive. We helped brace one another as we hit the city hard — sharing ideas for managing the logistics of the urban grid, small-space living, high-stakes careers, and days with little margin.
We cheered one another on as our capacity grew, as we met the challenges before us. And all the while we expended our resources, stretching, and praying we’d remain pliable.
I peered out the cab window and looked up, catching the reflection of the night on the skyscrapers zooming past, the fragmented light beaming off buildings and bridges and street lamps but never from the moon, never from the stars. The city had swallowed them up. My heart ached. My own heart was catching light only in fragments these days, shards blurred and quick, too fast for me to catch or truly see.
With every bone-tired breath, we wanted to remain. But could we? Our coffers were nearly empty, our emotions all but spent. How could we keep up with the demands and the cost of living in a city that promised so much but never seemed to have its fill in taking more and more from us? How could we ever fill up when we were giving out so much? Every one of my nerves felt exposed, and I was ready to run. To escape and move on.
Too Much of Everything
Experts tell us that millennials more than any generation before us will struggle to stay put. Where my parents and grandparents defined risk as embarking on new adventures and settling in new places, my generation struggles to embrace the value of a life lived in one place. We’re always on the move, on the lookout for the next big thing: a new occupation or even a better place to call home.
Wonderful qualities are born through this transience: a spirit of adventure and innovation, an entrepreneurship and independence that soar. The dark side, however, can leave us all dry, as the value we place on everyone and everything around us is reduced solely to output — what can be counted and measured. So we push and squeeze to get the most out of everything before it fizzles and steams in screeching decline, soon to be tossed aside into the pile of people and places, jobs and experiences that fill our resumes and round out our anecdotes. What we may not realize is that the more we blaze through and the more we consume, the more we toss our own souls right into the pile among all we’re done with.
Sustainability becomes impossible when we’re on the prowl for what will serve us next. When we aren’t getting what we think we need, when we feel we’re expending too much of ourselves and receiving too little, what we once defined as sacred becomes disposable. Our affection and attention shift back to … ourselves.
I was so desperate to see my life bear fruit — I’d placed the value of myself on what I could produce. My own soul was crushing under the system I had created where I wanted more and more and more but was never be satisfied.
I often think I’d have an easier time following God anywhere if He led me like the Israelites. If I’d just see a sea split in two, water torn right down the middle to make a way for me, then I could follow Him with gusto, whatever the cost!
Do you know how long the Israelites walked in the desert after being freed from Egypt before they began to grumble? Do you know how long it took before they had forgotten the wonder of God in their midst? Two months and 15 days.
Yep. For real. That’s all the time it took for faith to fly away.
They grumbled because they were hungry, and I grumbled because I feared I would never be full enough. They thought they were going to die, that the God who had provided for them in the most miraculous of ways before Pharaoh was going to leave them dry in the desert. But do you know what He did instead?
He told them that He was going to rain bread from heaven and that in the morning they would see the glory of the Lord because of their grumbling.
In their cries and questioning about the provision of God, He didn’t turn away until they were faithful, He didn’t wait until they trusted Him. Scripture says their grumbling was the reason He rained down glory. “And in the morning you will see the LORD’s glory because he has heard your complaints about him” (Ex. 16:7).
One of the most beautiful mysteries of grace is that when we have questions stirring, when we know complaints lie
IN THE MIDST OF OUR BUSY WORK AND OUR HURRIED HEARTS, HE WOOS US TO COME AWAY WITH HIM.
beneath our tidy exterior, when we experience fogged in and rainy days of the soul, we get to experience the glory of God by coming to Him when we’re most empty, most hungry, and most in need. That is the very moment we’re able to be nourished by the Bread of life.
We can cease striving.
“Remain in Me,” I heard God’s voice as a whisper at first.
“Abide in My love. You’re weary. Rest. Cease striving.”
Christ beckons in the midst of our chaos. In the midst of our busy work and our hurried hearts, He woos us to come away with Him. To simply be with Him. To my heart, to rest and to stop seemed impossible. Maybe that was exactly the point. A pause to rest wasn’t the end of my journey; it was where God would meet me, right in the middle.
In the Psalms, a Selah was a place for a liturgical or musical rest right in the middle of some of the most emotional and vulnerable prayers in all of Scripture. Selah was a hush. And when we quiet ourselves we can hear God’s voice, His song, and receive the Bread He pours out to nourish us when we feel most weak.
We must pause because rest is a radical act of choosing to see our surroundings in the light of Christ alone — in His gracious glow rather than in the shards and splinters of artificial light. And our hearts shift. We see something new in the places we inhabit, in the people we know, in the very work that we put our hands to each day. Outside of the practical nature of production, we can be free to be present and gaze with affection on creation, on all that Christ spent His very life on. And instead of wondering what we can get, we begin to desire to give. Rest transforms us to live outward, and we can feast on the abundance of the One whose mercy and light never run dry. •
Kristen Kill is a contributing editor at The Better Mom and co-host of At Home With Sally and Friends, a popular podcast with Sally Clarkson. Kristen is passionate about encouraging women who feel stretched thin with the truth that, even in the tension, God is singing over them with love. Find Kristen writing at kristenkill.com and follow her on Instagram @kristenkill.