Until Only He Remains

I came across an old journal while packing and unpacking from a recent move, and my breath caught in my throat.

The post was originally published in the June 2019 issue of LifeWay’s HomeLife Magazine. I’m honored to be included in the print publication, and grateful for the opportunity to share the words with you here as well.

I came across an old journal while unpacking from a recent move, and my breath caught in my throat.

Life is full of surprises and changes, ups and downs and a whole lot of days somewhere in between. This particular notebook has moved with me from place to place many times, and I’m certain that one day I’ll pack it up again and bring it along for whatever the next chapter may hold.

The pages are full, and I don’t particularly treasure many of the words inside, but if you flip to the middle you’ll find a list that documents a turning point, a line in the sand, a moment I want to always remember. Several years have passed between then and now. The ink has long dried and is starting to fade. But it’s still there, still legible, and with one glance at the page it all comes back as clearly as if it were written yesterday.

In an attempt to quiet my soul and my mind, I had opened the journal to a blank page, flipping past grocery lists and to-do lists, and wrote out what I wanted most. One after another, I listed what I longed for and the things that kept my mind spinning at night.

Answers.
Rest.
Healing.
Open doors.
More time.
Peace.
Wisdom.
Reconciliation.
Redemption.
Provision.

I came across an old journal while packing and unpacking from a recent move, and my breath caught in my throat.

It didn’t take long before I filled the page. As my hand stilled and I took a long, hard look at the words written in ink, a question stirred within me. The lines on the page began to blur as tears filled my eyes at the three simple words I heard in my spirit:

“More than Me?”

The question, unspoken but felt deep within, gently waited for a response.

Slowly, purposely, I began to drag the pen through each desperate cry. I can write about it years later, clean it up and make it sound nice, but the truth is tears fell with each and every long, dark line cutting through.

And then in the blank space by my long crossed-out list I wrote:

Jesus.

Only Jesus. Just Jesus.

I’ve been the girl with the happy face, the one who looks like she has it all together. But the truth is, I’d rather be the woman with puffy eyes holding up a tear-stained, crossed-out list. She may be messy and she sure won’t have all the answers, but she’ll tell you that all she truly wants is Jesus. She’ll tell you that He will be enough because she has already tested that truth and found it to be solid and sure.

We can trust the unknown of the future to the God we know is authoring its pages.

A few years after making that list — the one in the journal I keep packing and unpacking and packing again — I wrote a book called Even If Not. But it isn’t a story from the other side, a memoir wrapped up with a pretty bow and a happily ever after.

No, it’s about trusting God in the storylines we wouldn’t have chosen, about living in the in-between seasons, about choosing to say we’ll love Him and declare His goodness even if He doesn’t answer or move how we know He can and hope He will.

Answers and redemption and healing? I’ve hoped for them all before, prayed and cried and asked one thousand different times that He do what only He can do.

Sometimes He does.

But sometimes His goodness sounds like wait.

And sometimes, it’s simply no.

I won’t pretend to understand, and I won’t deny that I’ve doubted His timing and wondered “why?” so very many times. But when I look back over the pages of my story, the chapters I never would have written in, the doors that never opened and the healing that came in unexpected ways, I wouldn’t change it. I can see that He was there. He never left.

He promises to work all things for good, He knows how it all ends, and so I will trust the unknown of the future to the God I believe is authoring its pages. I will choose to trust Him in the in-between.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

Even when it doesn’t make sense.

Even when it doesn’t add up.

Even when my list grows long and it seems like nothing is happening.

Even then and even if not.

I’ll pull it out again, the list that I’ve carried with me all these years. I’ll remember the Scripture reference I write under my name every time I sign a copy of Even If Not:

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

I’ll reach for another journal, turn to a blank page, and make a new list. I’ll write His name and I’ll sit there as long as it takes, until every last thing is crossed off and only He remains. And then I’ll hand Him the pen.

He’ll be enough.

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