When the dust settles, what do you have left?
Home is where the heart is
After a wonderfully busy day of hard work, seeing friends and actually making it to the gym for once, I stepped through my front door. The silence of an empty house gave me the opportunity to be truly alone with my thoughts, and I felt completely at home. We all know that ‘home’ feeling, that safe haven where you can decompress, relax and truly unwind. This time it was more than just a physical place, it meant coming back to my centre of gravity: a core set of principles that never change. Coming home to my Bible and journal felt like the only home I needed.
I couldn’t believe that I had put it off for so long. The peace, stability and calm that comes with cultivating such a rewarding, yet mysterious relationship was undeniable. It was clear that I had played myself the whole time by putting on hold the one thing that holds everything else together. Every other moment of satisfaction, comfort and clarity paled in comparison to this. I wondered, how many times do we let ourselves miss out? When the dust settles and life gets really quiet how many times are we left asking ourselves 'is this it'?
"Despite the efforts to search it out, no-one can discover [life’s] meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it” - Ecclesiastes 8:16-17
Life is busy. Some things are in our control, and some things aren’t.
Life is a series of efforts - on the positive side, the effort to pursue a goal. The planning, grafting and anticipation that goes into bringing that goal to life. And once we’ve reached it, the excitement, accomplishment and adrenaline of it all shows us what it means to be truly alive. Other times, things get really hard. Unexpected challenges throw us off course, back to a the point where we fight against all odds to tackle the problem. Other times the battle is simply to come out from under low-lying black clouds of depression, anxiety and insecurity and face the world. Either way, so much of our lives is spent scaling the mountain of improvement, self-betterment, and creating a life that was significantly better than how we started. Either way, when you finally get where you want to be, there’s always something else you need to do next.
“All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full” - Ecclesiastes 1:7
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?” - Ecclesiastes 1:3
There’s nothing wrong with progression, we’re made to grow and evolve, not stay stagnant. But when we get a quiet moment to ourselves, it's easy for our minds to get flooded with questions:
When will I be truly be satisfied?
Why am I going for all these things, what’s the point?
Is it worth putting in all this effort to prove to myself and the world that I can do this? To what end?
And they always tend to sneak up on you when you least expect it.
These are huge, lofty questions, but if they’ve ever played on your mind then there’s a reason.
Even though we’re designed to achieve, to create and bring life, it’s still not enough to completely satisfy the human soul. In my quiet time, I learned that the only place where there was real rest and a real home was in reading the Word. And when I let that slip from the centre of my mind and my life, it was all too easy to get dragged from pillar to post, to be swayed by whatever looked good or important in my life at the time. I learned that unless we live FROM a place of completeness and not FOR the day when everything finally falls into place, I would always be dissatisfied and restless.
"I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little […] Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” - Philippians 4:11-12 (MSG / NLT)
Every time I heard this verse growing up, it was always taught in the context of having material things. But now it speaks of so much more, something way more significant. What Paul is saying is that the times where he had huge success and many followers, was no better or worse than the times his life was at risk and he was thrown in jail. Irrespective of what life looked like on the outside, the consistency of the Word, the promise he believed and foundation on which he built his life was enough.
You satisfy my soul with the richest foods. My mouth will sing your praise with joyful lips. - Psalm 63:5
In a world where things are changing so fast, couldn’t we all do with a little consistency?
'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ - Matthew 24:35
Each time I go back to God’s Words, to my journal, to prayer, it amazes me that how relevant, tangible and practical the Words are for this 21st-century life. Having a constant 'normal' that never changes does a lot for your sanity, it calms anxieties and keeps you anchored through life's choppy waters. In a world that feels flakier and more disappointing than ever, it doesn’t change and has actually never failed me. That means a lot. It’s strange and exciting that something thousands of years old carries weight in the life of someone like me today. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to miss if we don’t take a step back, slow down and get still enough to see it.
It's all too easy to miss the only thing that makes you steadfast, strong and more resilient despite life's demands, transforming you into the person that you were designed and destined to be.
For me, that’s enough.
If there was nothing else to this life, that would be enough.
When the dust settles, God’s words are enough.
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