Ever found yourself there? It’s a lonely place. It’s a hard place. No one wants to go there.
Beth Moore shared those two words, Further Still, during a Bible study I attended a decade ago. She expounds on it beautifully in her book by the same title.
Further Still. The words resonated with me. They stuck.
My Further Still began seven years after that Bible study, in my bath tub.
It was a great bath tub. A dozen jets, all of the bells and whistles that a bubble-bath-loving-Mom-of-four could dream of. A relaxing refuge after a busy, kid-filled day. Sanity really.
This particular day, it was empty but for me. I sat in it, fully clothed, shoes on, shocked, shaken and completely empty- me and the bath tub.
“What do I do Lord? I don’t know how to do this. What about these precious children? How can this be happening? Please don’t make me walk this path Lord…” I begged. I pleaded. Body racking sobs- surely enough tears to fill that bath tub.
Divorce. I could not even say the word. It was not in my vocabulary and it certainly was not in MY plan.
I thought God and I were on the same page about MY plan. I’d served Him wholeheartedly. I’d followed His Word. MY plan was His plan, wasn’t it?
Married to my high school sweetheart for fifteen years. He was hero status around our house and in my heart. We had four healthy, sweet children. We faithfully served in ministry together.
I was living my happily ever after.
Divorce. Eighteen years of my life unraveled by sheer free will. It was a harsh reality filled with stinging rejection, the responsibility of four little hearts who counted on me, and more questions than answers.
My friends would tell you that I’m a strong, determined kind of a girl but it was clear to me that I could not pull myself up by my bootstraps in this place. I was too broken. I could barely breathe, never mind find my bootstraps.
Jesus Himself, went to a place of Further Still. It was not an empty bath tub like mine, but it was surely a pain filled place.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorry to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.” Mark 14:32-36
The disciples that accompanied Jesus that night stopped short of where Jesus went. We read in later verses that they actually fell asleep. Jesus had to go to that place alone, and travail in prayer before the Father.
I called out to Him from my empty bath tub. He answered me. He met me there. We’d often meet there, in that empty bath tub. But no matter where I was, He showed up every single day.
He whispered unconditional love to me through His Word.
The book of Psalms became a healing balm to my shattered heart.
He reminded me that He still had a perfect plan for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
He understood my distress, promised to rebuild the ruins of my life and give my children peace.
“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise,your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear.” Isaiah 54:11-14a
Everyone has their own place of Further Still. Mine was divorce.
Maybe you lost a loved one much too soon. Maybe you’re really sick. Maybe you have a wayward child. Maybe you’re in the midst of depression. Maybe you long for a child, and find your arms empty. Maybe you’re stepping into a recovery program for an addiction.
Life on this imperfect planet is filled with trials and heartbreaking seasons.
God knows the way through every single difficult and painful circumstance we face. He sees the path to the other side. We cannot fast forward through it. It’s step by step, moment by moment. Oftentimes, it’s just doing the next right thing.
The wonderful thing about God is that He knows all about everything. He knows every detail of your life. He loves you BIG! He delights in you, just because you are you. He will speak to you through His Word. He will lead you. He will comfort you. He will hold you up. He will strengthen you. He will see you through.
Psalm 46:1 says it wonderfully—
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Copyright (c) Cory-Lynn Hatton. All Rights Reserved.