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Choosing the Right Source

Once you know what you are really looking for, the second step is to determine the right source to meet your need. So often, our pain comes simply from looking to the wrong source to fill the desires of our hearts. It’s like going to a gynecologist for a toothache—you’re simply not going to have your needs met until you go to the right place to find them.
You have to find the right source for your needs, and though there are many sources around us that should offer us, at least in part, the love, protection, affirmation, encouragement, guidance, and other things we need to live abundantly, there is only one place that you can be sure to find them.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

God is the only one who can supply your needs. Your spouse, your parents, your boss, your friends, your pastor—they will all let you down. They may even provide a good bit of what you’re looking for, and they could be the most loving, caring, and selfless people you know, but you still won’t be complete without the one you came from, in whose very image you were created.
That void in your heart can only be filled in one place, by one thing, by one God. No person or thing or drug or circumstance can fill that longing for you—it will always leave you wanting. That’s part of our design. We were made to walk with God. It’s our purpose. And when we’re not fulfilling our purpose, it’s no wonder we feel empty inside.

You’re probably thinking that this is an easy thing to say, but a much harder thing to practice. Well, you’re right. It’s not easy getting to the point where you can confidently say that the Lord is your portion in every circumstance and every need. It’s a simple solution, but it’s not easy, so don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t come that way.

But don’t take this the wrong way. While God is our ultimate source, there are still many times in our human development when we need things from other people. We are social beings after all, and we do need the love and acceptance of others in our lives. We should feel safe in the arms of our spouse, we should receive love and guidance and discipline from our parents, we should have strong and lasting relationships with our friends. And sometimes those people can give us those things, and other times, out of their own woundedness, they cannot.

When I (Matthew) was a kid, of course my parents were supposed to be a source for me of love, belonging, and safety, but out of their own woundedness, they couldn’t fulfill that role in my life. They just couldn’t. And what of God? Why didn’t I turn to Him for those things? Well I knew of God when I was twelve, but I didn’t personally and intimately know Him at that time. So what was I supposed to do? And what was I supposed to do as an adult, when I was still without those things that are essential to every human’s social development?

Well praise the Lord, He is a redeemer! It’s taken some time. It’s taken some patience. It’s taken some pain. But God has restored to me those things and so much more, both directly and indirectly through other people. There’s nothing I could do about my parents when I was growing up, but God has taken me and formed me into the person I am in spite of the things I missed out on.

One of the biggest things God had to change in me during this process was the unhealthy expectations I had placed on myself. At twelve years old, I thought I could hold my family together. Ten years later, when my parents divorced, I realized that I couldn’t. And then my personal relationships started falling apart, the department I directed at work was falling apart, my life was falling apart, and I still thought that somehow I could hold it all together.

If that sounds like you, then it’s time to accept defeat, to understand that you can’t be responsible for someone else’s decisions, and to give that responsibility to God. You put those chains on yourself, and you hold the key to take them off. If you haven’t already learned that your own expectations can make life excruciatingly difficult, then trust in my experience, and give it up. You won’t be more free, more whole, or more satisfied than when you let God be in control.

Of course, giving that control to God is going to be quite difficult if your disappointment comes from your expectation of God in the first place. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to realize one thing. It’s not God who needs to change—it’s you.
There are so many times that we think God should have handled things differently. There are so many times when we don’t agree with His choices or His timing. There are so many times when we’ve said to the Lord, “But You promised!” when we can’t see the fulfillment of His Word in our lives. But every time, without fail, God was right, and it was we who needed to change. It was we who needed to learn something. It was we who need to be made into His image, and not the other way around.

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