When God says He’s not enough

It was the perfect day. Gorgeous sunshine glinting off the water. A gentle breeze. Perfect except for one thing. I was alone. And I was feeling it.

Usually I love quiet space. Being alone with God in the midst of beauty feeds me. But this time it wasn’t enough.

Ever been there? Alone when you’re alone, or alone in a crowd? Feeling like God should be enough but somehow in that moment He just doesn’t seem to be?

A walk in the dog park

This morning I ran down past the off-leash section of beach where the dogs run free, chasing each other in and out of the water, sniffing and playing and making friends.

They’re not alone at home, of course. They have the attention of their family. They’re fed and cared for and generally happy. But they need this too. And their people bring them because they know it. To live fully, they need to run with their own kind.

When God says it

What is often said is true: we can’t look to people to fill the hole that only God can fill. No human person can provide the security, the unconditional love, the affirmation of our value for which we long. And if we seek these from them, we destroy the relationship, and hurt them and ourselves along with it. God alone can fill our center.

But it doesn’t follow from that that God is enough. He says so himself. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Alone? But the man isn’t. He is in a perfect, fact-to-face relationship with God when these words are spoken. He isn’t alone. And yet he is. He isn’t with others of his kind.

Alone with God is not enough. We need each other. And this is good. It speaks truth about who we are:

You, adam, human person formed from the dust of the adamah, are much more than the dust from which you were shaped. You are dust made in the image of God who, at his core, is love. Relationship. You were made to matter. Thus “it is not good for adam to be alone.” No, it is not good, for you were made for communion – with God and with your fellow human beings. God’s desire for you is as much about deep relationships with other people as it is about an intimate relationship with him. And your fullest joy will be found in doing whatever brings others into fellowship with you around the one whose heart binds you all together.

John knew this:

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:3-4)

Maybe when I tell myself that God should be enough I’m really saying that I should be enough. I should be able to manage life on my own. I’m beginning to suspect that my independence and individualism is often rooted in a misguided pride and forgetfulness of who I am.  We are made in God’s image, and God, the all-powerful three-in-one, lives in relationship, a relationship that draws all people, all things, into communion with him. Going it alone is not a strength.

So what?

Let me say it straight out. I need you. We all need you.

I haven’t had a comments box because I have wanted to offer you a quiet space in which to listen for God’s heartbeat. I still do.

But if I’m honest, I’ve also been scared.  I recently read a quote somewhere which compared being published to standing at a crossroads with your pants down. Good writing, like any other form of good communication, is revealing. And therefore frightening.  I’ve not been sure I wanted to know what you thought.

But listening for God’s heartbeat can’t be a solitary action. Not one of us has a corner on hearing God’s heartbeat. God reminded me of this as I listened, somewhat against my will, to someone who always seems to rub me the wrong way. Others find him helpful. But I just can’t seem to get past his sense of humor to hear what God might be saying through him. Until last week. Then I heard him speak on a story in Scripture that I hadn’t understood. What he said made it all clear. And it was precisely his different way of looking at the world that let him understand what Jesus was doing. The very thing that drove me crazy was the thing that let him hear and share a part of God’s heartbeat that I, from my more serious perspective, never could have heard without him.

We need each other.

So I’m taking the plunge and opening my comments box. When you need a quiet listening space, feel free to ignore it. Just soak in the stillness. But when something in you is jumping up and down to be part of the conversation, please jump right in. Call me on it when you think I’m wrong. Ask when something isn’t clear. Share how God is teaching you related truth in your own life. Often I’ll learn as much from you as you will from me.

Together we’ll listen for God’s heartbeat in our lives. My longing to offer you a quiet place of listening to God’s heartbeat hasn’t changed. But it needs to be a place where we’re listening together.

13 thoughts on “When God says He’s not enough

  1. I had saved one of your posts in June last year. Tonight God led me to reread it. Perfect timing. As always. I then went on to read many, many posts here. Near every one speaking into exactly where I am right now. THANK YOU for opening up your heart and speaking truth in love. And With great vulnerablitly. It doesn’t go unnoticed! You are a dear one indeed! Please continue to write for as long as our wonderful Saviour directs you, because He is using you greatly in my life and many others, I am sure!

  2. This is VERY interesting. We had a chance to celebrate Epiphany this year- nearby college women from all over the world, and a few other friends, walked over for candle lighting and a homemade meal. While it was being pulled together some of them chose colored threads and stitched the simple 1 “signature” journals I had made for them but not had time to sew. Inside each cover was a page on which I had photocopied a definition I found,
    “EPIPHANY: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way”
    I decided to use mine to record those moments, as God gives them. Here is my first entry:
    “It has been COSTLY to fear even constructive criticism, and thus to shy away from collaboration. Hand in hand with that is wanting my own way and believing it to be best, professionally and relationally.”

    I was introduced to your blog through, “Just fill the jars” which blew me away. Still does. Reread it today. Thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Anne, and drawing my attention back to this truth. This is an area God is actively working on (again!) with me right now: I really do need other people. And that’s not a weakness or something to be feared but part of being made in His image. Much grace to you as you continue to lean in to what God is doing in your life and let Him lead you into the place of deeper community, with all its joy as well as its challenge!

  3. I like the comments option, Carolyn, and congratulations on taking a big step to do it.

    About it not being good for the man to be alone… I’d never thought of that in context to his already having God. We do try to go it alone, and it doesn’t work. “If one falls, another can pick him/her up,” etc.

    1. Thanks, Janet. I hadn’t thought of it in that light either until last week when it all of a sudden hit me, “But Adam wasn’t alone!” It always fascinates me how passages that are so familiar become new to us depending on where we’re at and what God chooses to speak into our lives at that point.

  4. Bravo, Love! Do you think this is also being hinted at in Ephesians 3: 18, 19 ? (the “together with all the saints” part?)
    I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    – and also perhaps in 1 Peter 4:10, 11 where it seems God’s “multi-coloured” grace is only completely revealed as each one uses whatever gift he has been given. It’s interesting to me that the doxology at the end of v. 11 “To God be the glory and the power for ever and ever” follows, not a recital of God’s works but an exhortation to love each other deeply, to offer hospitality to one another and to use whatever gifts we have received to serve each other – so that God may be praised.

    Love you! Mom

    1. Thanks, Mom. Those are lovely thoughts, and yes, I do think they are hinting at (or shouting!) this same truth which seems to be everywhere through the New Testament. Maybe one of the places it is most explicit is in Jesus’ prayer in John 17, especially verses 20-26. We can’t separate our oneness with Christ from our oneness with each other. I have lots to learn, though, about how this works out in practice!

  5. This thought is so freeing. And timely. I have often felt the same way when trying to worship alone. It was in a core group of four women that I began to know God better, by seeing how he was working in and through the other women in that group. How each of them, in their unique perspective, reflected a different part of God’s character and showed me glimpses of his grace and love and moved me into a place of acceptance of those with whom I completely differed. In acceptance lies peace. So I get to then see where Jesus may already be in their life, even if they don’t know his name yet.

    I would say (and this is semantics) that the truth of scripture teaches us that God IS enough, it is just our perspective can’t see and absorb all he is on our own, just as you have said so well; so we see more of who he is through the lens of relationship with others. We cannot go it alone. We are part of a body and we need every part.

    Thank you for this, thank you so much.

    1. Thanks, Joyce, for this very helpful clarification. It is most certainly we who are limited, not God.

      In fact, while our limitations do cause us to need each other, they alone do not draw us into fellowship with each other; all too often, in our pride and fear, we allow them to separate us. Rather, it is God in His UNlimited love who longs for us all to be united in Him and so calls and enables us to enter into fellowship not only with Him but with each other.

      Thanks again for clarifying. Your thoughtful reply is proof of how much we need to be listening to God’s heartbeat in community!

  6. praise God for this courageous step…I believe it is Spirit led…I forwarded your blog to a leader of our covenant community. We past leaders do not agree with the way he is running the community and so a lot has left…I stayed but not as active as before…I do speak my mind when I am given the chance and this rubs him the wrong way, too….So the feeling is quite mutual…but the Lord keeps on laying on my heart the need to open a dialogue…last Sunday he pushed my husband’s wheelchair and helped him get into our van…i took it as a sign for me to follow it up with an invitation to talk, heart to heart…and then your blog came this morning….so you have helped me and with God’s help and mercy–my friend to be…The Lord really gives us the desires of our heart…..thanks a million….God bless you….

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