The rain fell softly against my window, and the world slowed down. I could hear my dog Chico trying to outdo the thunder. My fuzzy, yellow blanket was wrapped around me. The chip bag was slowly emptying, and my stomach, happily being filled. The screen washed over me. The show was absorbing all my focus with endless cliffhangers. I blinked, and it was late, or should I say early. With a sigh, I let sleep pull me away.
It happened again. I was on the couch with another show, another cast, another fast-paced plot dancing across my computer screen. I let the cushions swallow me. My sister popped into my room asking for help with her assignment, but I told her I was busy. My mom wondered if I’d vacuumed the floors and I mumbled I’d do it later. I put my computer on “do not disturb” mode to ignore all the emails from my group partners. My cursor hovered over “next episode.” The ten-second countdown popped up. I was at war with myself, wanting to stay put rather than doing what I knew I should. I wondered if that was so bad. My ten seconds are up.
This morning, there’s a weight on my chest. Like bronchitis to the lungs, this angst chokes my heart. And I go through the motions of my morning—brush my teeth, comb my hair, even read my Bible—but it doesn’t go away. I take the bus to work—scroll through my Instagram feed to distract my aching soul—but it doesn’t go away. I want to scream, but I can’t do that in public. I want to cry, but it won’t change anything. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I have put my hope in the things of this world, and they are drowning my soul.
I put Chico on his leash, and we head outside. The air is crisp. The sun is glaring overhead and the leaves crunch under me. Chico yanks forward and I tell him to walk slower, not that he listens. Why is it, I ask myself, that I can spend a hundred hours on my laptop and still need another five minutes? It’s not a sin to relax; God encourages rest—but agh, I feel guilty. It’s not sinful to read a book or watch a show, but I feel like I’m drinking gallons of water and still dying of thirst.
I turn the corner, and still, no answer comes to me. No thundering whirlwind, no still small voice. The Bible—the instruction book for living, a love letter from God—points to the Eternal One. It’s filled with promises of blessing, yet I still feel empty. The wind whips at my hair, and I wish I had brought gloves. Lifting my face to the sun, I know I should lift my face to him. I want the glory of his presence to fill my heart. In every aspect of my life, I should look to him; but honestly, I don’t know if I can do this. Experience shows how easily my rebellious heart turns from God to other things to distract and satisfy. Part of me is scared that even if I surrender to God, it won’t be enough. I gaze at the clouds and pray.
The Bible is emphatic. God is faithful. Trustworthy. True. He is the source of my strength. The sun warms my face, reminding me that God is present, that he will answer me. The same way a hungry child is filled when they eat food, God will answer me when I come to him. Joy ignites my heart to praise like gasoline to fire, and peace floods my heart, surer than any miracle.
And I try to hold it—to catch it like a firefly in a bottle, but it fades. The wind blows and bites at my face. I can feel the sun—but it’s distant.
My heart so quickly forgets the feeling of being exuberant with his joy, the feeling of being steadied by his peace. My mind so easily forgets the times when he was faithful. Psalms 12:11 reads: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And David says in the Psalms: “I see that the LORD is always with me.” And I know, the Holy Spirit is within me, I’m always in his presence—but I forget. I need to be reminded that God, who made my heart beat for him, is offering me fullness of joy—complete satisfaction.
I aimlessly wander, letting Chico pull me back and forth from tree to tree. And I ask God to remind me.
I know God has placed eternity in my heart. And this is why, even when I try to rest in God, my heart sometimes aches. There is in me a desire for something otherworldly. Things of this world are shadows, like leaves blowing in the wind. It’s in loving God that I’m brought closer to him, but I’m still prone to sin.
A weight has settled on my chest. I have to come to terms with this angst within. I can’t just pray and watch God take it away; instead, I must pray and trust God to satisfy. And instead of trusting him completely, I fail. Like Chico running after every squirrel in the park or every falling leaf, I turn to other things. Yet, in his grace, God forgives me when I repent. Better yet, he pursues me when I forget. And it’s frustrating that I keep messing up, but it’s wonderful to know that I’m loved with unconditional love by an unchanging God. It’s wonderful to know that no matter what I feel right now—longing for things to come or sadness over my failures—one day this world will fall away, and I will know what it is to be fully and forever satisfied in God. And it’s wonderful to know that he doesn’t just love some future heaven version of me—but he loves me as I am and wants me now.
My boots click on the sidewalk like fingers on a keyboard as I lift my heart to God. I speak to him out loud. Otherwise, I find that my words get lost like smoke in the wind—hazy, and then gone. Speaking to him out loud reminds me that he’s a person. I talk about my day, my friends, my neighbours, my church. I tell him I’m scared that I’ll just keep failing, scared I’m not a good Christian. I tell him that I’m sorry for the times I look to other things to satisfy. I thank him for his forgiveness. I ask him to lead me, and I smile because he is with me.
This article was written as part of the Writing Mentorship with our P2C-Students Editorial team.