God said, "Give me some undivided time this week." So I did. I marked tonight off for myself and took a ride to Barnes and Noble with my laptop and the intention to buy a new book.
On the way there, God said, "Why don't you listen to this sermon?" So I did. And about three minutes into it I realized why.
When I got there, I said, "Hey God, show me what book you want me reading me next." So He did. The first book I picked up was the one I bought, and I can't even effectively explain how relevant it is.
I sat down with my laptop and God said, "Look up how much that degree you've been praying about it so I can show you just how possible it is for you." So I did. And it is.
Then God said, "Here, write this down." So I did...
My favorite part of the beach is right between where the tide has reached, and where the tide currently is. The semi-muddy section where you could make the sandcastles as a kid or, as an adult, best enjoy the breeze off the ocean without getting too sandy or wet.
When I was younger, I would make it my personal mission to build myself a miniature pool in this section of the beach. I would dig and dig… and dig some more. Once the hole seemed big enough for me to sit in, I would trade my shovel in for a sand bucket. From there, I would run down to the ocean (because apparently even the eight year old me couldn’t do anything slowly) fill up my bucket, run back and pour the water in my little mud hole.
Right as I would begin to sit in it, it seemed the water drained right out of it the hole. I had no more than 15 rushed seconds to enjoy what I had just created. So, I grabbed my bucket and back to the ocean I went for more water. I would continue this until I realized there would be no end to the running. I would never be able to sit in and enjoy my little mud hole-turned-paradise-pool because it would retain no water. I’d be left sitting in, well, just mud. And that wasn't the point of all this work.
What I know now that I didn’t know then is this:
Mud holes are insatiable. They dry up almost as quickly as they are filled, only to thirst again. They hold the promise that if you dig deep enough, you’ll find water, yet our bodies don’t possess the energy (or will) to find out if that’s true. It’s the nature of this sandy soil to absorb water. To keep needing more to remain what it is.
Sandy soil without water is just sand. Dry, grainy sand. The kind of sand that was no fun to build sandcastles with because it would crumble as soon as you lifted the sand bucket. When it comes to the kind of mud you find on the beach, it is within its nature to need water.
That mud hole… I found out there’s one inside of me. There’s this void inside of me that seems insatiable. It’s the thing that kept me running in life. The reason I was overcommitted, exhausted, drained and alone. The reason I was constantly frustrated and seeking a vast number of things I thought would keep it filled.
No one likes to feel empty, or find any type of emptiness inside of ourselves. When we sense a void, most of us immediately feel the need to go find something to fill it. It’s ok if it’s not a permanent fix as long as the way I feel is relieved in this moment. So we grab our sand buckets and run to the ocean of …
The validation of other people
Drugs and alcohol
Sex and pornography
But much like the eight year old me, we find that the mud hole quickly absorbs the water. And soon we find ourselves running back to the ocean, wondering why we never find the time to sit and enjoy the beach. The feel of the salt water breeze. The sound of the seagulls in the distance. The sight of the sun shining, rising or setting over the ocean. Seeing your kids build their first sandcastle of the summer, or your spouse catching their breath for the first time in weeks. We miss it all. Because we’re running. Because we’re desperately trying to keep that hole filled to avoid facing the reason it was formed to begin with.
No matter what ocean you go running to and no matter the reason your mud hole exists, the bottom line is that it is the complete anti-thesis of what God has invited us to though Jesus. God invites us to come rest (Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 40:31). Not run. To be restored, not drained. To be filled, not hopelessly empty.
This is the life you are invited to.
Are you willing to drop the sand bucket?
Are you willing to understand why this mud hole exists in you?
Are you ready to accept that you were never intended to keep this hole filled on your own?
It’s ok if you aren’t sure of the answers to those questions. Just keep reading for now, we’ll come back to them.
...and we will come back to them because I'm pretty sure God has a book's worth left to say about this topic.