Please join me in giving a warm welcome to fellow Christian author and blogger, Patricia Holbrook. This devotional is an excerpt from her newly released book, Twelve Inches - Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel. Today, we're giving away a copy to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to enter, or if you're in a hurry, simply say, "I'm bridging the gap!" in the comments section. For more information about the book and to read some of the endorsements, click HERE.
The Lord said to Gideon, "I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home."
It was Friday night. I absently stared at the TV, thinking about how lonely I felt. Looking through my phone book, I knew that the options were not good. The friends who would be available on a Friday night would quickly offer me a tour back to my life before Christ . . . Places I knew not to visit anymore.
My new Christian friends were all busy with their husbands and family. I was me, my TV . . . and . . . my Bible.
I glanced down and picked it up. A new Christian. I had heard that Jesus was all I needed, but was unsure of how to let Him fill the void. My weekends had been busy for as long as I remembered, filled with friends and many invitations. However, several months earlier, I had attended a retreat that forever changed my life. I surrendered my life to Christ that beautiful September morning and experienced an unprecedented joy and peace. I spent the following weeks and months on a spiritual high, attending a new Christian discipleship class, prayer meetings and various church functions. I had made several new friends, but the were, well . . . new. And most of them were married, anyway. Loneliness filled my heart on the weekends.
That particular weekend was the hardest of all.
As I held my Bible, tears streamed down my face. One of my best friends of eight years had turned her back on me. We attended college together. I was the friend who would not leave her when her dad tragically died. I left my family at Christmas for the first time in 23 years and jumped on a 12-hour bus trip to be beside her that first Christmas after her dad's accident. I invited her to live with me when she decided to come back to town. We had a great time together for a year. But as I made the choice to follow Christ, she ended our friendship in a very hurtful way.
That was the last drop in the bucket.
"Jesus, I thought you would fill my life, not empty it!" I cried out.
It was there, lying on my couch, that I heard Him whisper in my heart for the first time.
"I am preparing the soil for new sowing. For a new harvest."
It was then that I saw it. I had a vision.
As in a dream, I saw a large, bare field. The soil showed places where trees once stood. It was desolate-looking. Ugly, even. Then I saw seeds coming down from Heaven, falling inside each hole on the ground. And finally, I saw the same field, green and full of beautiful, tall trees.
"Behold, I am making all things new," I heard.
Twenty years have gone by since that day . . .
And I behold the harvest.
I can close my eyes and see the faces. My husband, our two daughters, and wonderful, faithful friends throughout the years, planted in the field of my life. Besides one very best friend from my youth and my immediate family, they are all new. They have all been planted by Yahweh's faithful hands. And they have flourished and yielded fruits of joy, peace, love, patience . . . true friendship. True love.
I stand amazed.
The vision was hard to believe at the time when loneliness filled my days. When God removed what I thought was true love . . . and those whom I considered real friends. He plucked them all, one by one, and left me wondering whether I'd ever feel loved again.
But before He planted a new harvest in my life, He had to teach me to make Jesus my all in all. He wanted to become my very best friend.
Instead of giving in to the feelings of loneliness and depression, I sought His face. I made the Bible my greatest companion. I woke up in the middle of the night to talk to my Savior and started serving Him at church.
And before I realized it, He started planting beautiful new seeds into my life.
God showed me that, just as He gave Gideon victory over mighty enemies with a small army of faithful servants, His children don't need 10,000 soldiers to win life's battles. When God is in control, He weeds out the unfaithful, and fills in the void in our lives with the 300 faithful few. In. His. Time.
Gideon was afraid of not having enough. He couldn't see how he would defeat his powerful enemy with such a small army.
You may not see how your life can continue without a particular person. Or how you can give up your old friends and still have joy.
I challenge you to trust Him.
Trust that He is weeding out the unfaithful, cleaning out the soil, preparing it to yield a new harvest.
All He needs is your heart. Your surrendered trust.
I promise that one day you'll stand amazed, as you contemplate the lush green fields that Yahweh will plant on your current bare land.
As you give yourself to Him, believe me: He will give it all back to you.
Pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Because that is the kind of Friend He is.
Just trust His pruning. Trust His plucking.
He only cuts out what doesn't belong, anyway.