Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains
These are lyrics to a worship song called “One Thing Remains.” We sang it in church a couple weeks ago and one line in particular stood out to me: It overwhelms and satisfies my soul. It reminds me of my favorite verses in Philippians 3:7-9 which speak of the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” in which everything else by comparison is rubbish. The love of God… is it true that it overwhelms and satisfies my soul?
And what if that were true? What if His love not only satisfied my soul, but overwhelmed it to a point of overflowing? There would be such contentment in my heart and soul that all other longings and unfulfilled desires would dissipate. I would be so filled up by the love of God that I would no longer seek what I can get from my earthly relationships, but rather what I can give. All sorrow, pain, and sadness would shrink in the shadow of the love of God for me. In all areas of life I would be operating from a place of contentedness, not desperate longings for things other than God.
We sing this song and others like it with such passion on Sunday mornings, but often live a life that screams “God isn’t enough for me. I need X, Y, or Z to be content, happy, and fulfilled.” In my conversations with others, I hear many longings for marriage, for children, for better friends, for a better husband, for a change in life circumstances, for more money, for “whatever it is” to be over with. There is a sense in which if we just had that one thing, THEN I would be overflowing and full in my heart. Can we be honest for a second? If we are waiting on anything other than God to have a full heart, then we have created an idol. God is no longer our God and no longer the one who fills our soul. He is no longer the One in whom we have placed our hope. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married or wanting a season of life to be over, but as soon as we need that to happen to be completely fulfilled, it is an idol.
So where do we go from here? May I first suggest that we stop being satisfied with singing songs in church, quoting Scripture and then living like none of it is true. It doesn’t matter what we say we believe or what we sing; our actions will show the true beliefs of our heart. If you feel as if you could never be happy unless you are married, have children, etc, then be honest with yourself, God, and others. Admit that you’re setting your hope on something else and don’t actually believe that God alone is enough for you. Let’s start by being honest about what we actually believe because we can actually move forward from there. If you aren’t being honest, you are deceiving yourself and creating a roadblock for any spiritual growth. Any progress you try to make spiritually won’t last if you are building on a foundation that isn’t actually there.
So why do we have such a hard time being honest with ourselves in the first place? I think we desperately want to have it all together and be “the good Christian” with all the right answers. Maybe it’s because we care way too much about what others think of us or maybe it’s because we think that’s how we can please God. Either way, this causes us to lack a sense of raw honesty about where we are at and what we actually think about God and who we are as believers. There is something in most of us that hesitates to say, “I know the Bible says that everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus, but I don’t actually believe that right now.” But if we want to see true growth and freedom from idols in our life, I believe it will start with that kind of honesty.
In my own life, being honest looks like accepting my heart’s tendency to find its fulfillment in things other than Jesus. Once I perceive that I am no longer believing Jesus to be enough for me, I can identify the idols I’ve created. An idol is usually the one thing I want and think will make me “feel better” or “be ok.” Once I identify the idol, it is time to get rid of it. I confess to God and at least one other person my sin of creating an idol and putting it before Him and pray that in His power and through Jesus’ work on the cross that He would remove it and help me to let it go. This has included letting go of dreams, goals, and expectations I had for my life (which, by the way, is extremely difficult and often painful). All things I thought I needed IN ADDITION to the love of God in my life. After days, weeks, and sometimes months, of working to uproot the idol from my heart I am ready for God to come back in as the rightful desire of my soul. But again, this is not always an easy process.
Even after ridding idols from my heart, I often feel unsure that God will actually be enough for me in their absence. But it doesn’t really matter how I feel; my feelings are rarely based in reality. The Word of God on the other hand, is absolute truth and will never change and never ever fade away. So this is where the faith-walking part comes in: choosing to believe the Word of God above my feelings. What does that look like? For me, this looks like “sick soul care.” This is something I do immediately after discovering an idol in my heart. When my body is sick, I take extra measures to get it back to a healthy place by getting extra rest, taking extra vitamins, and cutting out junk food. In the same way, when I realize my soul has been unhealthy I take extra measures to get it healthy again through extra doses of Bible reading in my day, cutting out forms of media whose message is unbiblical, and more time in prayer to be honest with God about the condition of my heart. And without fail, when I take these extra measures, in a matter of days or weeks, I find myself falling in love with God all over again. My soul, in its healthy state, again begins to proclaim, “Yes, Jesus, you truly are more than enough for me!”
My challenge on this Sunday morning, is that we would no longer sing worship songs that our hearts really don’t believe. Instead of singing the lyrics, pray that God would make them true in your heart. Let’s begin to be honest with ourselves and one another when we are struggling to believe that Jesus is enough so we can deal with the idols in our hearts. Better to be honest about any “sickness” in our soul than act as if we are healthy. Let’s pursue Jesus together from a real honest place so that we might see true victory over the idols in our hearts!
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me