‘I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 1:6 HCSB.
The Lord recently dropped this thought into my spirit. “If I was to strip everything away from your life and all that was left was Me, said the Lord, what would I see of your life.”
This thought came to me this week when I fell into a black hole of heavy despair that I haven’t felt in a long while. At the time I was moving along a pathway exploring future ministry options, getting so far and then not getting over the line, as it were. It is like as I get close to what I believe the Lord has placed upon my heart to pursue, and then, it just goes quiet and momentum is lost. Though I’m still trying to debrief and understand what happened, one thing is clear: it was a revelation of the deep painful emptiness that exists when “what I rely on” is stripped away. I haven’t felt in a long while. This reality takes me to a place of breaking me down so ruthlessly that there was literally none of me left.
Sometimes this stripping away is merely a noticeable inconvenience. A twinge of pain and guilt after being hurt by another’s comments. Other times it pushes me to a heaviness so great that I feel like I will surely be destroyed by it. Graciously, this latter, more intense form is not very common.
This use to disturb me greatly, and I would be tempted to say, “Well, God is closing all these doors so that must mean it’s not His will.” In saying that, I would be making excuses and would be missing out on what God had for me and my family. Too often when God starts stripping away things in our life, we start to hide behind “His will.” That is probably the most misused Christian phrase ever.
But I have come to appreciate and understand that there are seasons in our lives when we feel absolutely empty. We can go through times when we feel completely stripped of everything that means something to us.
- Dreams die or seem unreachable.
- Relationships change or end.
- Pursuits lead to seemingly dead ends.
- Physical trials persist.
We wait and stand on God’s promises, but sometimes deep in our hearts we wonder if these promises will ever come to pass.
Maybe you are in a season like this right now.
Has God ever stripped you of something in your life? Chances are we all have. At some point, we lost something and, obviously, God was behind it. When God takes away something from us, we can’t deny it’s going to be painful.
In order to create us anew, we are stripped of what is important to us, God must break our old self. He must take us through a process of humbling us so we fully surrender to His will in our life. He breaks us of who we think we are. Jesus is testing us to see if we are truly worthy to be called one of His. He is testing us to see if we will serve Him no matter what and it cannot be avoided.
When we’re pressed to our knees, there’s only one place left to look. In these moments He catches our eye, our heart, and He fills the void, if we’re willing, if we’ll have Him. Once the breaking has begun, then He must empty us of our old way of what we think we know. He slowly begins to pour the Truth of His Word in us.
One of my most precious revelations I have received has been that God will not give up on me. God has been stripping away layer-by-layer of my heart so He can restore me. This is an incredibly painful process but a necessary one. In His way, and in His time.
As I have continued to allow God to strip me to reveal to me His purposes and methods, I have discovered the most amazing thing. He strips us so that He can fill us with more of Himself.
God has stripped away a lot of things I’ve built my life on and around, so I could come face-to-face with and live a life of what is truly important. I believe it’s a continual state of being in God’s presence and revering Him to the point that we accomplish the plans He has for us:
God who began a good work in us in the past enables Him to carry out His good work in us into the present and future.