Welcome to Week 4 of The Longing in Me Online Bible Study!
Last week was somewhat of a doozie, wasn’t it? The longing for control hit many of us right in the solar plexus. Our circumstances run the whole spectrum of situations in life, but one common thread is that we so wish things would go the way we want them to go! As we studied the Scriptures last week, we learned that fear and pride can cause us to feel like we need to take control – much like David felt when his life was threatened by Saul. When fear or doubt sets in we might feel desperate to control a situation, but it takes true surrender to God to wait and trust God!
How’d you do in your personal study during the week? Did this topic resonate with you as it did with me like I shared in last week’s blog?
This week we’re in Session Four: “The Longing for Happiness” where we’ll dig into the “if only’s” and cravings that can plague us and cause so much trouble if we don’t deal with them before the Lord and seek the heart of God. We’ll also look at what happened in David’s life when his pursuit of happiness went badly wrong (see 2 Samuel 11:1-26; 12:1-13).
This week for the study we will:
1. Watch the video for Session 4 – either on DVD or via streaming video on Study Gateway (you’ll need to be logged in to your free account and connected to the Internet).
2. Answer the group discussion questions. If you’re meeting with a small group or in a church setting with others or on your own, go through the discussion questions for Session 4 in The Longing in Me Study Guide (pages 69-81). These are the same questions that we’ll tackle in our Thursday online chats — at 2 p.m. EST and 9 p.m. EST each week. Join us!
3. For your personal study this week, answer the study questions in The Longing in Me Study Guide (pages 82-88).
4. Recommended (but optional) reading for this week: Read chapter 6, “The Longing for That One Thing You Think You Need to Be Happy,” in The Longing in Me – the hardcover, not study guide.
Watch the Video: Session 4 Longing for Happiness
I love this quote from the book:
I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. — Jim Carrey
The “if only’s” in our lives should have warning labels on them, don’t you think? They breed discontentment, cause our dreams and relationships to lose their sparkle, rob us of our joy, woo and entice us to make decisions that we never would have dreamed we could be capable of, and they take our eyes off of Jesus. He is the true fulfiller of happiness who is the only One who can fill that sacred ache and bring us deep and real soul satisfaction.
True contentment and rest come from Christ. He alone can fill the deepest longings of your heart. — Sheila Walsh
During the most turbulent years of my marriage, I thought that “if only” there could be peace and healing everything would be ok. I felt so broken and exhausted that I truly wondered if I need to be in the hospital as Sheila did. (I still think that may have been a good idea!)
- If only I knew how to please my (former) husband.
- If only there could be a day, or even an hour of breathing room.
- If only my oldest son would turn away from rebellion and be at peace.
- If only the walls weren’t caving in.
- If only we could remain in our lovely house.
Instead, during that period of crisis, there was zero peace. We had to move out of the house I loved, and we landed at my parents’ home — quite a burden on them since we were a family of seven.
Looking back, instead of seeing one of the worst days of my life to that point, I see God’s hand of blessing and protection. He had admitted me to a different kind of ICU, one where I would go through trauma and divorce, but also where I would find healing and peace in Jesus.
I couldn’t have begun to understand that God’s “no” to all my “if only’s” was a gift from Him, a gift of protection and provision, and that it was His rescue.
Most people have at least one person in their extended family who’s a tiny bit crazy. Well, I have a very colorful cousin named Marcus. He’s one of my favorite people and he knows it, because he’s been “the black sheep” and his viewpoint is from one who’s met the bottom of the barrel and knows the way out — Jesus. A long time ago Marcus sought out some of his “if only’s” like there was no tomorrow, and he made some big messes in his life over a couple of decades. Then, one night when he lay nearly dying, he called out to our God who, in great love and mercy, answered him. From that night on, Marcus began to change from the inside out. He’s still his same old zany self with a wild sense of humor, sometimes filter-less opinions, and rakish, leading man looks, but now He’s given God the reigns over his life and as a result has a deep relationship with Jesus, and he hears His voice.
After I had to move to my parents’ home, Marcus called me out of the blue. He said, “Hey, chickie. God told me this is His rescue mission. You’re there on purpose for a purpose and it’s good. Stick with Jesus, cous!”
I would come soon enough to see that he was right! All of my “if only’s” crashed and burned, but Jesus remained. And, He remains to this day.
Practice: Recognize, Receive, Give Thanks
Let’s take this challenge from the Study Guide:
One of the insights from David’s story is about the connection between true happiness and the ability to continually recognize and receive God’s gifts. When we stop recognizing and receiving in a love relationship with God, it won’t be long until, like David, we start grabbing at lesser loves and end up on a path to failure and unhappiness. The practice for this week is to train the eye of your heart to routinely recognize and receive God’s gifts by writing Him thank-you notes.
Lord, thank You. Thank You that we can find true happiness in You. Help us to lay down our “if only’s” and turn towards You for our fulfillment and satisfaction instead. We trust you and we love you. Amen!
Just joining us or catching up?
Here are some essential links you might need.
For the kickoff interview with Sheila, watch the replay on YouTube.
Couldn’t attend the Thursday chats last week? Catch up and read some of the archives here.
Share on the blog this week your thank-you notes! We’d love to hear your expressions of gratitude! How have you seen God’s goodness and grace in your life, and does this practice help you keep your focus off of your “If only… God” thoughts?