I John 3: 19-20 “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
Have you ever had the experience where you’re driving to work and you suddenly have the thought, “Did I close the garage door?”
If this happens, and you live alone, it can be especially worrisome because there is no one to go check for you. You basically have to wonder about it all day, and if you’re like me, all of the worst case scenarios begin to bombard your brain. The only real way to get your mind to rest is to find out for sure. Either you have to go see for yourself, or you have to find someone to go check for you.
I lived most of my life having that, “Did I close the garage door?” feeling. Only it was a lot more serious. I wasn’t worried about my house getting broken into and losing some of my possessions. I was worried about not really knowing God’s will, not doing what God wanted me to do, not being good enough, pure enough … and losing my soul. I was worried that my garage door was open and someone was going to see all the things I had worked so hard to hide. This is the kind of worry that makes it impossible to clear your mind and just rest. It makes it impossible to breathe.
I felt this even more when I was “on the field”. I mean, surely if you’ve chosen to do mission work then those “thoughts” you can’t get rid of … those feelings that creep up without warning, those things that rob your soul of rest; must count double on your list of sins against God, right?
I struggled with this so much, that when I came back from the field I eventually just exhausted myself. I couldn’t quit torturing myself with guilt, and the sleepless nights took their toll. I finally just gave up.
I wish now that I had spent more time talking about these feelings. But I always felt there was this unspoken rule that you just didn’t talk about these things. Thankfully, God led me to a place where we do talk about these things, and we talk about them every time we get together. Nothing is off limits. It’s amazing to watch hearts begin to find rest that haven’t rested in a long time.
The greatest lessons I’ve learned seem a little silly now. They seem silly because I let such common things dominate my life for so long … let them lead me away from all that was good and holy. If I had only spoken up and let someone know. I would have found out that my struggles are not unique, nor are my questions. The uncontrollable thoughts are not sin. Wondering and questioning are not sin. Our struggles are not new … just secret. Someone has to speak first … someone has to let the secret out so the next person knows they are not alone. Someone has to let people in their garage to see that it’s full of the same stuff as everyone else.
Knowing that God is bigger than all my doubts, fears, thoughts, feelings, and secrets … gives me rest. Knowing His size and strength helps me give these things to Him to battle. He can win against them when I can’t.
And, best of all, when my heart tells me that I’ve left the garage door open and someone is going to see the real me, I don’t have to panic. I can know that God knows it all already and He loves me anyway. He doesn’t love me if I’m good, or because I’m pure … He loves me no matter what. Now that’s a thought I can rest in.
- Paige Foreman