The sun sets over the city as I stand in my kitchen feeling as though I've hit rock bottom. I am grappling with the untimely death of a childhood friend. There are so many questions. So many emotions. I feel the emptiness of the world acutely. The joy of success fades. The things I’ve been chasing--accomplishments, adventures and material acquisitions--don’t seem as important as they once did. My friend’s tragic end causes me to reflect on my own moments when I have felt empty and broken.
I look back on those times when darkness brought me low, yet I was always aware that God was not far off. Often I can recall the presence of God through a song or a dream, an impression or a kind word from a stranger. So many times when I was hurting, and trying to fill that void with earthly pleasures God showed up. Not with shame or punishment but with love. But so many times I ignored it.
I heard the songs and saw the signs through which God attempted to get my attention, but I kept sticking my head in the sand. It was just easier to ignore and distract myself from my problems than deal with them.
In that moment in my kitchen, I sang a song to God, and it went like this:
Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take it seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Jesus saw me as a stranger, as a weak and weary traveler who was lost. And in that moment when I felt as though I had come to the end of myself, I felt God fill up the emptiness, calm the storm of my spiritual chaos, and I fell back into his arms of love.
Two weeks have gone by since that melancholy sunset. I spent much of them in solitude with God. Friends tell me that I sound so much better, that I give off a better and more peaceful presence than before. Even though nothing in my external world has changed something inside me has. I’m finding that God can fill the emptiness better than anything else. God can calm the dark chaotic waters. God can fill the void.
I tend towards excess in an attempt to fill the void myself. I drink way too much coffee, I can eat the entire pizza, I take on way too many projects and social events because ultimately it is never enough. Coming to the conclusion that I have a problem with excess, I thought I would experiment with fasting. Not with the intention to lose weight, or for God to send me blessings, but purely for the sake of emptying my physical body so that it would match where I was at spiritually and emotionally. Fasting lasted for about 2 to 3 days because within that time span I found that God was able to fill me both spiritually and emotionally.
My experiment with fasting led me to find a visual devotional that has played a helpful role in the rekindling of my faith. One of the captions in the book Prayer by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson went along with an image that said “May I be the same in character and posture regardless of my circumstances. May I be an uncompromisingly whole person.” That sentence resonated with me because it taught me that I can be whole even when my external world is not. It is the loving grace of God that makes me whole; not my own attempts to make myself a whole person.
As August approached, so did many blessings. Blessings of genuine friendship, opportunities that I thought were unattainable, and recognition for the hard work that I had poured into projects and even in my life.
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
My life is a story of Divine Grace. I have come to learn that God is ever present in my life, whether I acknowledge him or not. Even when I walk away, when I question and doubt, he meets me where I am. He sheds light on the next step I should take, and gives me the freedom to choose whether I will take it or not. God calls you to a life filled with love, adventure, ups and downs. Through it all God wants to walk with you through it because a life filled with the divine presence of God is a life well lived.
Madison Myers is a student at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in marketing. She has traveled to a majority of America's National Parks and is eager to see them all.