Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Things First

I opened my devotional today and read:

"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased."  C.S. Lewis

God is good isn't He? I mean my intent for today was to post some of the problems I am having with being an empty nester and before I could even type one word God gave me the solution to all of those problems. It's really the solution to all of our cares and needs.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33. Of course sometimes the real problem is not not knowing the solution, it's how do I become so obedient to God's word that I live the solution and not the problem?

There may be some people out there that spend over twenty years of their lives raising children, serving children, caring for their every need, praying, driving, feeding, laughing, crying, arguing, embracing, loving children and then, when those children leave, feel relief and joy at their new found freedoms. I didn't feel that way. I was one of those women who always wanted children; when I was little I used to say I wanted a hundred! I ended up with three gorgeous, brilliant, funny out-spoken kids that I absolutely adore. Although I worked when the two oldest were born and served in ministries throughout most of their growing up, they were my "career". They left for wonderful lives, which I am thrilled to acknowledge. The "career" has ended--I guess I'm retired; now what? Am I alone? Do any of you feel that way?

I know I have a lot of years left--Lord willing--and I know all of the things I am supposed to be happily doing with all of my "free" time now that my nest is empty; I even want to be doing those things--sometimes. It's just that it doesn't feel right or good or real. My children left, my health crashed, I slowed down and the world kept going fast and I got lost. Anyone else? My father-in-law got sick and moved in with us only to get sicker and die. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, moved in with us and got sicker and I had to make the horrible decision to move her into an assisted living facility. Just as everyone left our home, my husband took a job that involves traveling nearly 99% of the time. The nest is empty and for a while now I have been empty too. Anyone?

All I have known to do is cry out to the Lord and you know what? He has heard my cries.  Elizabeth Elliot wrote, "It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible." Maybe it's good to be empty, maybe it's good not to be comfortable, not to have control, not to be able to help how you feel and what you are able to do. Maybe it's at those times that you can finally sit quietly and begin to hear the Spirit within you minister to you and encourage you and equip you for the new life that you have no choice but to live. Maybe it's at those times, when the house is too quiet and too clean, when there is no one you need to drive or feed or pay attention to that you truly can be totally still and KNOW that He is God and you can fall deeply in love with Him again. Maybe after I finish my rant to Him about the loneliness and the fear of not knowing what to do now, maybe then when I have reached the point of seeking Him above my yearnings for the past I will understand the scriptures when they say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths." Proverbs 3:5-6.

If any of you are in the place that I am in, I hope you'll join me on this journey of trust. I can't wait to see where He is going to guide us!


  1. After contemplating loneliness, I am fully convinced that, God does what He needs to do to reach us. That void, or feeling of loneliness will be made complete upon our arrival into heaven. Many scholars have said that we were all created with a God size whole in our heart. That hole is often filled with things that are far from God. We feel the vacuum sucking the very life out of us. We've tried hard to fill it up with anything and everything but God. But God in His wisdom, takes us away, sometimes out to the desert. Oh the desert, the lonely place. The place where He powerfully reached Moses, Joseph, and Christ himself. If we were totally filled up here, why would we yearn for heaven and an eternity with our Creator. There are desires within us that have pulls straight from the throne of Christ. We have ties from on High. Although it is hard to wrap our head around, we were created before creation, by the Creator, for His good pleasure. To be totally complete, we need to be with Him. Where life was once so packed with action, activity, and conversation. Life leans more toward quiet, calm, and still. God has told me clearly in his word, that He cannot be heard unless I am still. God desires that one on one. And when we meet Him there in the still and loneliness of our hungry souls, He is faithful to fill in those lonely spaces with Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.

  2. Susan, I loved reading this. Such an amazing woman you are. Where you grew up wanting 100's of children, I grew up wanting none. Mainly because of my childhood and being the oldest of so many I already felt like I was a mother and all I could think about was my freedom in becoming an adult. While God has always granted me my "freedom" he also knew what was best for me and had a better plan of course. Hence, my being a step-mom to Briana. Little did I know when I married Daryl almost 12 years ago when he only had her every other weekend that she would become my fulltime child at the peak of her teenage years. Wow! Really???? I had to question God because I knew I wasn't cut out for this challange but He in His wisdom thought I was and so when she moved in with us fulltime her sophmore year I almost died. I thought my relationship with my husband as I had know it was over (mainly sex :) because who can have sex with a teenager in the house. I found out it's possible and lot's of people do it. I guess that's why the "master" suite is on the opposite side of the house? Anyway, as I began to build my relationship with her my relationship with Him also became stronger. It was the only way I knew to be effective at the whole "mothering" thing because clearly I did not have a good role model to go by. Then as nursing school began to get more stressful and Bri needed to learn to drive, guess who got that nomination? Um yea, me! Again, I was saying to myself, Really? You can't be serious God, I get a ticket every year. I speed, I run over stuff, I'm not the best driver. But Daryl couldn't and her mother, well let's just say she wouldn't. So off we went and now she's driving just fine. She's a great kid and I'm blessed to be a part of her life but I do crave still that freedom of only sharing the home with my husband. God has shown me so much during this time of my life. I'm blessed to have the family I have and I'm blessed to be a part of the Johnston family. I love you all so much. Thanks for encouraging us in such a Godly and Truthful way.