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Letting God Fill in the Blanks

January 26, 2017

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (NIV)

There’s this little painting that hangs in my home. Most people wouldn’t consider it a masterpiece. I only paid $5 for it at an estate sale, but I like it because it speaks redemption to my soul every time I look at it.

I don’t know what happened to the gal who painted it. All I know is it seems something about her life fell apart. And one day a company opened her front door to strangers. They walked through all the sacred spaces she once called home and bought the stuff her life had collected. I guess I’m too sentimental to attend estate sales; I couldn’t stand it.

But I also couldn’t leave without rescuing something in her creative collection. Then I had the strangest notion to go on a wild adventure to find this unknown painter. I pictured it like an epic scene in a movie where the music crescendos and I find her living in a New York high-rise. I would knock on her door and make the great assumption that she would be thrilled with my announcement.

“I just want you to know I love your work. I bought one of your paintings and it speaks a message of redemption to me every day. And I treasure it.”

Surely then she would get misty eyed, invite me in for coffee and share her devastatingly beautiful story. We would become wonderful unlikely friends. She would go on to become a famous painter. And live happily ever after.

But life isn’t usually as epic as what we see on movie screens. It’s untidy and so unpredictable that our fragile hearts get broken at best, crushed at worst. And sometimes it’s just easier to run away than to risk letting the shards of the fallout cut away the little bit of life still left in us.

No crescendo to the music. No epic arc to the story. No lasting friendship. Just a $5 painting that hangs in my kitchen.

And that’s all I know.

Life sometimes keeps us from details that are better left alone. It keeps some of the blanks blank on the outline of this message.

Does it ever drive you crazy when a speaker gives you an outline with blanks but then skips some of the points? Me too.

We like complete outlines. All the blanks filled in. All the gaps closed. All the details disclosed. And all the why questions answered to our satisfaction.

But that’s not the way life is. Some speakers are disorganized and forgetful. Some gaps too wide to close. And there are some questions for which there are no apparent answers. I believe that’s the way God wants it. Our all-knowing God not only allows this but actually designed life to be this way.

Without blanks, we would have no room for Him to enter in and write His answers. For Him to become the Way when there is no way. For Him to be the Truth when lies long to be what consume our thoughts. For Him to be the Life He’s designed on the other side of our crumbling attempts to control our stories (John 14:6). Our God is not fickle, forgetful or fragile in any way. He does not make mistakes. He purposes the gaps. He allows sacred spaces and blank places. He leaves room.

If we had all the blanks filled in, we would explain away God’s part in our story. God doesn’t want to be explained away. He wants to be invited in. He wants us to make room for His additions to our story.

One time God was told, “There is no room,” and He turned an ordinary stable into an unforgettable sanctuary. “No room” became a space through which Jesus Christ stepped through glory to the grit and grime of this sin-soaked world.

What did He come to bring? Redemption.

And what do the blanks and unanswered questions of your life provide space for? Redemption.

So why is it OK with me if I never know the details of my kitchen painting? Redemption.

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  1. K McDaniel

    This is SOOOO me!!!! Every devotion you write speaks to the very core of my soul. Thank you so much for all you say and all you do. For just allowing your vulnerable moments (the good, the bad & the ugly) to speak sweet peace to our souls as your soul is aching and hurting. So come over, let’s have a cup of coffee, share our stories through misty-eyes and become unlikely friends 🙂
    Thank you….thank you so very much!!!

  2. Nita

    Please post a picture of your little kitchen painting that inspires you that you wrote about today. Thank you for blessing each reader with inspiration to live closer to our Lord and Savior.

  3. Judy

    Thank you, for your beautiful inspiring words. May God continue blessing you and us with your gifted words.

  4. Charlotte

    I am an artist Too and I would dearly love to see a photo of the painting that you’re talking about I would love to paint redemptive paintings of my own. Not to copy hers but to appreciate it.

  5. Melissa Baldwin

    I am dying to see the picture that hangs in your kitchen now!!!!!

  6. Beverly Rosand

    Speaking of art, I am very curious what the date
    02 13 16 hanging on the wall of many of the First 5 videos represents.

  7. Tamara

    I am hanging on to Jesus is the way and the truth and the life! 14 days ago my son in law was arrested for domestic violence,he totally destroyed my daughters personal cell phone and work cell phone during an argument. This nightmare is something I never expected or saw coming! He is making up lies to get her charged with DV and end her military career and try to take their 2 precious little girls. I need prayer (lots of prayer) that truth would prevail. We go to court Monday because he is trying to reverse the order of protection she has. I am praying but sometimes I just cry.

  8. Al

    I don’t know where to write… Please, pray for my deep depression and anxiety that I have… I don’t work, stay at home mom with three kids and without any friends or support. My husband is working all the time… I believed in lies if the devil that I am a loser and no one because of my position in this life… In my church, I don’t see any support or love… Help me

  9. H

    I don’t know where to write… Please, pray for my deep depression and anxiety that I have… I don’t work, stay at home mom with three kids and without any friends or support. My husband is working all the time… I believed in lies if the devil that I am a loser and no one because of my position in this life… In my church, I don’t see any support or love… Help me

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Hi H,

      I am emailing you right now.

      Many blessings,
      LT ministry team

    • Rosario

      Hi H. I am praying for you.

  10. Lindsey

    Your words always breakthrough to me. You have a gift to share and I am so glad you’re brave enough to do so. My favorite lines from this post are, “Some gaps too wide to close. And there are some questions for which there are no apparent answers. I believe that’s the way God wants it.” Yes, that is the way God wants it and I am glad you helped bring that to light within this post!

    God Bless <3

  11. Gayle Gordon

    Hi Lysa – I just wanted to tell you that I recently received your book “Uninvited” as a gift from LifeWay and more recently (today) binged on your YouTube sessions of the Bible Study. You’ve spoken deeply into my life and I’m eager to share this book and the study with family and friends. I also love that you taped it in Israel!!! I’ve been a few times and I love visiting The Land and hearing its history from a Christian worldview! Thank you for sharing what God is doing in your life, you are a blessing!

  12. Roz

    I had read this before but TODAY is hit home profoundly. Thanks Lysa!?

  13. Susan Greenwood

    This season of my life feels like one big blank. It gets frustrating not knowing but it has kept me closer to the feet of Jesus–humbled and grateful. I started wondering if I was doing something wrong or if I missed an answer somewhere; but, reading your post reminded me that God knows my blanks. He is in control of the answers whether I know them or not. He is my hope. He holds my future…it is all safe in Him. Thank you!

  14. Dina

    This is where I’m at now….trying to fill in the gaps until it hurts. And reading this post, I am realizing that the Lord just said to me, “just let me worry about this”. Thank you for being a tool in His hands tonight for me.

  15. Anne Crew

    My young adult son has rekindled a relationship with my ex husband of 18 years and has lied about the whole thing. When I found out just last night my heart sank and my stomach turned. I cried. I prayed. I asked God, do you even hear me? Then when I woke, and before I got out of bed I checked my email. Lisa’s devotion today was exactly what I needed to hear. Even though I feel my heart was crushed (betrayed even. My ex hasn’t paid a penny or made 1 effort to help or be involved with my son) I won’t be broken. I thought I was over it but clearly I do have bitterness to be removed. I’ll be ok. It isn’t personal. It’s just the east wind. God does hear me. He does care about the details. He knows my heartache. And he will make something better in me! Thank you Lisa, thank you Jesus.

  16. Donna Lemmer

    Thank you for this. I feel like there are many blank spaces for him to fill up. I am new to your page and really appreciate the ease of how you teach. Blessings to you.

  17. Aimee

    I discovered you today and after reading your story on your website I was crying. It’s rare you find someone that you geek would “get you” and after reading that I said a prayer of thanks for helping me find someone who would “get me”.

    I’ve been dealing with marriage issues for a could of years, I’m 41 and on my 2nd marriage. I have 3 teenage daughters from my first marriage and their dad is not supporting them in any way. I’m feelings by crushed to the core. This post helped me feel as thought maybe there is something to learn/gain from this crushing process. At least I’m praying that there is more to this.

  18. Debbie

    I’m thankful for you, for your faithfulness, your transparency, your ability to let God lead. On good days, I feel like I have made progress, but then the chains of my past seem to reappear so suddenly. It is difficult living behind smoke screens, I wish I had the strength and faith to just let God… just be transparent and let God heal.

    I have a question for Lysa, if it isn’t too personal. I know she openly shares that she had an abortion; when did she tell her children?

  19. Vonda

    Reading this has encouraged me tremendously. My marriage is in crisis and I am seeking God for restoration. I am feeling “pressed” but I know God is faithful and through this difficult time He is at work and something good is going to come out of it. Thank you for your writings.

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