“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”- Genesis 15:1
When I was 20, I was in my first semester of Bible College, which followed a great tragedy in my family. I remember hearing girls around me proclaim enthusiastically about how Jesus was all they needed. They were so satisfied that they didn’t even care about getting married (something I definitely cared about). Even though I loved Jesus as well, I remember sometimes inwardly rolling my eyes and feeling frustrated by how someone could really feel so satisfied in Jesus only. I cried out to God that semester, however, because I wanted to be like those girls. I really wanted to be completely satisfied and joyful in Jesus only. I specifically remember sitting in the back of the coffee shop on campus writing in my journal, earnestly talking with God. I said something like,
I know that You (Jesus) are supposed to be enough for me, but I just don’t feel like You are enough. I know I am wrong, but I’m just being honest. Please change me.”
God definitely went to work on answering that prayer – it was probably His favorite thing to work on with me for the next three years after that.
Right before Bible College graduation – after two years of mission trips, humbling, discipline, tears, laughter, the most wonderful fellowship, and amazing adventures with Jesus – I was laying down on the grass underneath some beautiful palm trees on campus, looking up into the sun and the swaying palm fronds. I asked God why everyone else knew what they were going to do after graduation, but not me, even though I had sought Him diligently. It seemed like everyone else was walking away with spouses, internships, missionary callings, and ministries – futures – but God somehow forgot to give me a future too. There under the trees, however, God’s still, small voice came to me so clearly and quieted my heart, saying, “but you have Me.” Those words resounded so powerfully in my heart. Jesus was telling me that I had gained something so much more precious than a spouse, career, or even a future. I gained just Jesus, and He gained my whole heart. In a sense, I was coming out of Bible College with Jesus, only. God was not forgetting me, He was letting me profoundly have and enjoy . . . what I already had. Jesus is the best that God could possibly give me to me and the very best for my life; God wanted me to see how I was walking away with the highest goal of what “Bible College” and life is really for.
In Genesis, God had amazing plans for Abraham and made Him very precious promises. But, Abraham had to wait about 25 years before the promise of a son, Isaac, could come to pass. At the very beginning of it all, God wanted to make sure Abram understood the most important thing. He said, “Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15). God was telling Abraham that a son is not the reward, or the blessings, but that God, Himself, “I AM” is the exceedingly great reward. In the midst of Abram and Sarai’s childless “barrenness” and long waiting, they could be satisfied with the greatest blessing, God, Himself.
At some time in our lives, many of us have felt prolonged times of intense “barrenness” – the unexplained and prolonged absence of a very good thing. It may even be a natural and common thing that other people freely enjoy around us every day; but for some reason, it feels like Heaven is shutting off this blessing from our lives, such as the desire to have a child in Abram and Sarai’s case. It is a huge learning test to endure prolonged “barrenness” and still be fully satisfied in Jesus.
Psalm 23:1 shockingly states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I lack nothing.” I take this literally to mean that I have everything I need right now to fully glorify God in this season. I do not lack anything good that I need to live for and to enjoy God at this time. Since I do not have a spouse then, for example, it is because I glorify God most at this time without one. A time will come, however, when I will glorify God most with a spouse, and God will faithfully bring us into each other’s lives. Learning this has freed me to see that the places of “barrenness” do not have to make my heart or life barren. Jesus fills all those places and meets them with Himself, my exceedingly great reward. I can fully enjoy life and serve God, because I already have Jesus, the best blessing God has to give.
ERIKA FIORE was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated from California Baptist University with a degree in English and is continuing on towards her Masters. She serves in the Young Adult ministry at her church and is passionate about college-aged young people having a solid identity in Christ and being bold for Him. Having lost a brother who was college-aged, she has a heart for young people to know how thoroughly they are loved and purposed by a good God. She is passionate about history, cultures, and learning. Some of the things she loves are: sunshine, the beach, swimming, dancing, and traveling.