There is a common expression in Haiti, Apre Bondje, se sel ou memn m gen.
After God, all I have is you.
When someone was desperate for food, the request would come, hands extended helplessly with an after God, you're all I have.
When someone needed help getting a loved one medical care, after God, you're my only hope.
If the deadline for school tuition was approaching, after God, our only chance for this is you.
It used to terrify me as a young missionary, approached by men my father's age, presenting a massive need I knew nothing about how to care for, and being told I was their only hope.
If they said it, it must be true, and oh what a predicament I now was in with this child covered in tumors or this widow with five children with swollen bellies, or this family with piles of bills and dreams and desperate for help.
But one day, I was with Uncle Dave when someone extended him the idea that after God, he was their only hope, and he shortly but graciously corrected, as is his way, After God? There is NONE after God! Sometimes I can help by the grace of God, and sometimes I can't, but only He is God, and there is NONE after.
He quickly removed himself from the pedestal next to God that I had been trying to lovingly occupy for the sake of brothers and sisters God had perhaps let down, and reminded me that we were not the hope of Haiti nor the hope for the hopeless nor the next best thing...and wouldn't dare pretend.
Tonight I was at church, and as we sang and prayed and listened and prayed, I had a short, heavy, messy list of things I wanted the Lord to work on for me.
Instead, always instead, He gave me two clear words.
One: to fill my mouth and mind and heart with the greatness of God and the subsequent outflowing of praise so I don't have the space to offend the Lord by complaining about my issues and frustrations with His creations (which kind of shortened my list)
Two: to remember that after God, it wasn't my dad.
My whole childhood, after God, I had mom and dad. And then my whole adulthood, after God, I had dad.
If God didn't come through...if God didn't show up...if He didn't provide...if He disappointed...I still always had this hope and trust that my dad.
Not long ago I cried to Matt, "What if we need help one day, what in the world are we going to do? What if one day we are homeless and need a home? Where will we go? Who is going to help us?"
He listened to me patiently.
I started bawling harder. "Who is going to LOVE me like parents do? Who is going to care about the little things? Who is going to care about my children like true grandparents? Who is going to be proud of me and watch over me and listen to me and be my friend? Who is going let me belong to them and love us most, like mom and dad?"
I have followed the Lord my whole life, and I was as hopeless and helpless in that moment as I had been in my whole life...the terrible answer, NO ONE, NEVER AGAIN, resounding in the pit of my soul. I was on the verge of losing my way when Matt snapped me back to hope with what I already knew.
Stacey, THE LORD. And NOT the Lord, after your dad and mom. The Lord, FIRST and always and BETTER and BEST. The Lord's love for us is the model our parents struggle to faintly model.
After God, it wasn't my mom, though she pointed to Him. It wasn't my Dad, right there next to the Lord, dishing Him out. Even if they never let me down while living...and they did...they have let me down now, entirely. When I have needed mom, she has not been there, not once, not in 20 years. My dad, when we are desperate, hands out helplessly, he will not answer my call.
There is none after God...I have none after Him. I never did.
Who is going to love me well and care for the little things and watch me over and love me ridiculously?
God my Father.
I lost track these last hard months that after God is still just God...and where else would I go?
If you're waiting on the things after God, friend, they aren't coming. If you're counting on something else to satisfy just in case God doesn't, He DOES. And it won't. If you're putting your hope and faith and joy in a person after Jesus, they are going to let you down. If you're frustrated that the people you're putting "after God" aren't coming through the way you need, they can't. If I'm trying to be "right after God" for my family, friends and children...I'm never going to live up.
There is none after, and in Him is the beginning and the end, the one who never fails.
He never fails.