November 2015 Final Issue
Home / Selah With Sarah / Filling The Donut “Whole”

Filling The Donut “Whole”

About 15 years ago, my husband was out in the woods having a three-hour quiet time for several days in a row because of a bet in his men’s small group. That bet, which required each man to accumulate five hours of devotional time with the Lord that week, radically changed his life and that of our family forever. It was the beginning of a journey to experience more wholeness in our relationships with the Lord, but I’ll return to this story in a moment. Now as I was considering my article and the subject of wholeness, it prompted me to ask a few questions including: What is it? How did I lose it? and, How can I get it back? As I thought about these questions, I remembered my mom giving us kids one of her many art lessons with everyday life objects. She loved to ponder and search the Scriptures about how, in life, there was mystery in simple things and simple concepts. “What does this mean?” she might say, “A donut is a whole object but has a hole in the middle. Let’s think about that. How could we apply that to life?” My sense of wholeness has been deeply challenged since my mother died almost a year ago. Loss has a way of robbing us of our peace and making us feel broken and incomplete. We feel like a donut:  Still whole on the outside, but with a huge, drafty hole in the middle. We process our loss and wait for things to fill in again. Even when we know the truth, those truths are tested again and again with the difficulties in this life. Wholeness is defined as,an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting.” This was the state of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were undivided from God in their mind, soul, and spirit. They were undivided physically as they enjoyed walking in His presence daily. There was nothing broken in their world:  No worry, no sadness, no longings for the future, no loss, and no disappointment. Their marriage was complete and without division. They lived in a state of complete peace, harmony, rest, and work, until they ate from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The consequences were devastating. They lost their connection, their intimacy with the Father, and their wholeness. Mankind has been trying to get it back every sense. The beginning of greater wholeness starts with a more intimate relationship with the Lord where He feeds us nourishing truth on a regular basis. Where His voice is heard often and is louder than the voices in our head. The voices in our head are usually more critical and condemning than the still, small voice of the Lord. His voice brings clarity, leading, and encouragement. He often starts with leading and then moves on to deeper heart issues that need healing. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved (complete) without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NASB). We cannot sanctify or fix ourselves. We cannot fill in the empty places to make ourselves whole and complete. We must rely on Him to do the work that we cannot do ourselves. But how? How do we allow Him to patch us up, to fill in the open spaces, and to bring wholeness out of all the brokenness? Now, back to my story. When my husband’s men’s group made their bet, they were seeking a small return in peace, strength, and nearness to God, but what they (and we) ended up getting was a whole lot more. After he had accumulated four hours against the bet, and after praying, reading, worshiping, etc. he had an hour to go. So, without much thought and feeling out of ideas for what to do next, he mindlessly spoke what turned out to be a life changing question… “God, if there’s anything you’d like to say, please feel free!” At that point God began a conversation with him that went back and forth for about an hour. It was startling and amazing at the same time. After getting back home, he shared what had happened. We talked about it for quite a while and felt that nothing was unbiblical that he had heard. He told his men’s group the next week, and this started a habit of him going out for long quiet times in the woods and then coming back to tell me what had happened. In all honesty, we weren’t sure what to think except that nothing God was saying was weird or out of line with Scripture. Finally at one point, my husband brought home a book by John Eldredge entitled, Walking with God - Talk to him. Hear him. Really. Finding this book was confirmation that he hadn’t lost his mind. Eldredge talks about an easy relationship with God where they walk and talk in the cool mountain air in Colorado while he’s fishing, hunting, and hiking. Where he listens more to God than he talks, and the Lord gives him insight into his troubled soul in a way that he had never experienced before. God was ordering things in Eldredge’s life. He was ordering things in us the same way. This kind of conversational relationship with the Lord allows us to sense His presence in a more intimate way, trust Him more, and ultimately live more undivided from our true source of life. My husband encouraged our entire family to try it ourselves, and it is what we now call Hearing or Listening Prayer. For myself, it started small, and I had a lot of trouble with doubting what I heard. But in time, and with regular prayer, His voice became more familiar. Now after many years of listening myself, I have found it to be a natural part of my life of faith. Listening Prayer is just asking God for insight and answers, and expecting a response. It gets easier with practice, and the confidence that God is actually talking back to us continually grows. I like to tell people who say they don’t believe in Hearing/Listening Prayer that, “Oh yes, you already do, if you are a follower of Jesus.” You believe that when you pray about big decisions like marriage partners, job changes, moving, college choices, etc… that God will give you clarity and wisdom to know His will. In some form, through your pastor, mentor, friends, a verse, a sign, a fleece, or circumstances that bring leading, you will know what you should do. Listening/Hearing prayer is just doing that same thing on a daily/hourly basis: asking the Lord for leading and discernment throughout our everyday schedule and lives. The whole listening prayer concept became solidified for me personally about 11 years ago. We were contemplating a Chinese adoption of an older child. This happened after my husband and three older kids went on a missions trip to China and became attached to a sweet little seven year-old in an orphanage there. When they came home, my kids especially were ready to start the paper work immediately. I, on the other hand, had just finished up a very stressful year with a baby that would stop breathing when she experienced a reflux episode. So I sent my husband out to the woods to “listen” and get some clear leading for us. When he came back, he said that God had given him a vision. It was fuzzy at first, but it was a picture of a book in the Bible with a specific verse reference. The reference was 2:7. But God had not been fully clear on which book it was. God speaks to him often in pictures, and what he “saw” was that the book started with either “Es” or “Ex” and was a mid-length word. So, it wasn’t long like Ecclesiastes, and it wasn’t short like the book of Ezra. Now remember, we were asking the Lord for confirmation on whether we should pursue an adoption. So we looked up Esther 2:7, which reads, “Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she didn't have a father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter” (HCSB). Ok, wow, this was spot on. Then we looked up Exodus 2:7, and this time we were blown away. It said, “Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?" (HCSB). Of all things, this verse was talking about Moses’ adoption by pharaoh’s daughter. We were both shocked and encouraged that God had graciously made things so clear to us in this situation. We knew exactly what we were supposed to do. As it later happened, China did not allow us to adopt this child that we had “pre-identified,” but God had another little precious girl waiting to join our family instead. In this situation, God gave us clarity and leading through listening prayer. At other times, He has spoken truth that uprooted long-held lies and misconceptions. Still at other times, He has healed our wrong images of Him and helped us see areas where we try to find wholeness in other people or in other things. Areas where we try to fill up our drafty hole in the middle with busyness, accomplishments, and stuff. His still small voice has brought healing and wholeness in our family in a way that nothing else has. Wholeness begins with the Lord changing us as we intimately encounter Him in more personal ways. Through His written word and His voice, He does the work to reorder areas of our lives and to sow new truths in others. Learning to recognize His voice just takes a little practice, and He loves to affirm our own adoption as His children. I enjoy many contemporary worship artists, but I was also raised on wonderful old-fashioned hymns. The following is one of my favorites. In The Garden I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses . . . And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! He speaks and the sound of His voice, Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing, And the melody that he gave to me, Within my heart is ringing . . . And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! Listening for His Shalom, Sarah Bramblett
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About Sarah Bramblett

Sarah Bramblett
Sarah Bramblett has been married to Todd, her college sweetheart, for 30 years. They have five children, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and one precious granddaughter. Sarah is a homeschool mom, avid reader, an artist, and a beginner triathlete who loves to cook, entertain, and win at charades. She has a passion to teach women the truth of God's Word and pass on what was given to her by her godly parents. She specifically feels led to nurture and care for women and their families, encouraging them to see their important callings as daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends.

2 comments

  1. Wonderful, I agree. I had never heard Joy’s story before. And I believe there is such a need for more believers to experience a closer relationship with the Lord as you describe. Thank you, dear Sarah.

  2. Sarah, so wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I read half yesterday and just finished this today. I remember hearing this story from Todd and you! Love you!

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