When less is more

Anyone remember Julie’s challenge to me to write a single word New Year’s resolution? That’s okay; I didn’t either until today. To jog your memory (and mine), my single word was less.

Anyone see the irony here? Perhaps some of you more familiar with my journey thus far in 2008 do. I do. In fact, I feel a little like laughing, and not with the deep laughter of joyous hilarity but more like the shallow laughter that laughs to keep from crying. You know, the laughter that carries a subtle hint of bitterness, the laughter that sees the irony yet doesn’t necessarily appreciate it.

Less. In all my New Year’s idealism and, dare I say it, naivete, I expressed my fervent wish that 2008 would be marked by

Less stuff, more contentment.
Less chaos, more peace.
Less stress, more calm.
Less of this world, more eternal perspective.
Less Lisa, more Jesus.

Noble sentiments, indeed. And I do wish for those things, I do. Actually, wish isn’t the right word. I long for them. I want my life to be just as I’d resolved ten months ago. With all my heart, I desire it!

Yet the “less” that marks 2008 is of a different kind. Less of what I’d hoped God would do. Less of what I’d expected. Less passion. Less fervency. Less assurance. Less of who I thought I was and certainly less of where I thought I was headed.

2008 proved to be far more heartbreaking and confusing than I could have ever guessed, for reasons you may know about and for some that you don’t. I remember the passionate, fervent assurance I had at the turn of the New Year, 2008–how confident I was in the Lord! How firm was my conviction! I knew–not just believed, I knew–I was going to see the Lord’s faithfulness just exactly as I’d pleaded! Or, so I thought…

Oh, I’ve seen His faithfulness in glorious ways but not from the vantage point I’d expected. In fact, where I am now is so far removed from where I thought I’d be that sometimes, often, I am surprised. I am at turns astounded that Lord brought us here, to “this.”

The “this” is good. It is. Please don’t hear me say it’s not. I am only saying I could not have imagined this place and certainly did not ask for it—which, incidentally, is exactly as the Lord promises us (1 Cor. 2:9).

But here’s what I’m learning–and I’m talking present tense here, a work in progress–God grants us seasons of less so that we may know the more He has for us. The less that I’ve endured, though heartbreaking and confusing, has served to bring me to a place of glorious brokenness and, not only that, keep me there. I’m being (present tense, a work in progress) emptied of me, my agenda, my expectations, my carefully constructed image—all so that I may be filled with Him.

He is able to do more than I can ask or imagine. May it be so and may I see the more of His glory in the less of me.


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

15 thoughts on “When less is more”

  1. Your 2008 was my 2007.I’m a year out and the surprises are still coming–God has brought into our lives many, many more people, things and events than we could ever have imagined or predicted. All very surprising, but (I hope I can say this in an understandable way without having to make all the theological caveats so that people don’t misunderstand. . .)But. This year I can begin to see what has been and is being produced from the trial of 2007. Sifting, sanding, discipline and also growth and new-found talents and opportunities.God is good. This life has purpose and God knows what He’s up to! You know that, but this thought has helped me much over the past couple of years.

  2. One of the principles that keeps coming through in my study of Exodus is that when God takes us from bondage to freedom, He uses every circumstance of hardship to reveal more of Him and refine us to less. I’m praying for you, friend. Thanks for continuing to encourage a similar zeal in my life as you write about yours.

  3. Love your thoughts, as always. As I read it and got toward the end, I glanced up at your original resolution again. And this is what struck me:Our tendency is to want less chaos & more peace, less stress & more calm.So what He does sometimes is give us (allow us) MORE chaos & MORE stress to show that in the midst of that, HIS MORE is greater than that more! We will never have a “more yuck” that His “More” can’t trump.So maybe our goal shouldn’t be “less” (of all our junk) but “more” (of Him).I think of the old hymn:More about Jesus would I knowMore of His grace to others showMore of His saving fullness seeMore of His love who died for me.Speaking to myself, here! And I’ll be quiet now and quit hijacking your blog! Love ya, my friend!

  4. I agree 100% with Mocha! 150%!This post sent Amy from Joy of my Heart over to read my original post. After reading her comment, I re-read the post myself.My word was “closure.”Thank you so much for reminding me! I have some things to do before January. I don’t want to have to use my word two years in a row.

  5. yep, can relate to those thoughts…except i’m not quite as positive (yet) as you…interesting reading, though!

  6. This is beautiful, Lisa. 2008 has been completely different than I had expected as well, and in so many ways, I see it as “bad.” But God IS faithful, and he IS revealing his glory and his plan. I need to readjust and realign my expectations, to watch what God is doing. And to put my own plans and desires in line.

  7. “But here’s what I’m learning–and I’m talking present tense here, a work in progress–God grants us seasons of less so that we may know the more He has for us.”I love that line best of all. So much profound beauty, truth, and wisdom in this post. Reading it blessed me. Thank you.

  8. LisaI could have written each and every word of your post myself. My family’s lives have been turned upside down this year. (I am thankful even through the tears to be somewhere different than I was 9 months ago).I can see a little more clearly today…..I need less….and want to be more of HIS!I keep thinking of …..that being refined like gold scripture.I’m living proof of that one.Thanks for sharing.

  9. Less ~ A less-on I have been living for 2 years. Less of me, my ideals, my plans, my agenda, my position, my title, my everything.Believe it or not Lisa, you are in a great place. A place of brokeness before your King! You cannot imagine what lies just around the corner.Peace!!I continue to pray for you as you journey on.Cindy

  10. Precious. I can so relate. And I couldn’t help but think of Luke 18:8, “…But when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?” This is Jesus’ summary statement after telling the story of the unjust judge who finally gave in to the unrelenting cries of the woman who wanted to be avenged. Jesus wants us to keep on praying. I think it gets harder and harder, when we don’t see results. But He’s coaxing us to keep on. I’m with you, Lisa, mother of sons.

  11. May it be so…I thank God everyday that I am a work in progress, because if this is the finished product…. yikes. :)I love Mocha’s idea of replacing our ideas of “less” with “more”. That particularly resonates with me for the upcoming seasons of Advent and then Christmas. More Jesus, less of everything else…

  12. Has Christ ever emptied me in the past year?! Are you walking my road? I think you are, perhaps one of the reasons I always connect so closely with your posts. You haven’t confused me one bit with your words. I understand the pull you’re feeling…the “less” when all you expected was the “more”. And therein lies the deep well of another portion of something–rich understanding and tender intimacy with our Father when we allow our hearts the shaping. Keep tending to the less. Are barrenness before God leaves ample room for him to be heard and to be loved.peace~elaine

  13. Oh, Lisa. I know the “keep me there” season. So many times, I have not even lifted my chin to see that less has passed away and I am actually in the midst of more. I do love how much our desires appear to be in opposition of His plan … or at least I want to love it.Blessings.

  14. You know I've been pursuing "LESS" this entire year. God has proven Himself to be more than I imagined, in different ways. But in the past few weeks, He doesn't seem to be as present as I'd like. Of course, that's the human side of me…not seeing how He's working in the midst of uncertainties in my life.Let's keep trusting & praying…praying & trusting. Lydia's devotion on Trust is very timely for me!

  15. This is so beautiful.I learned more in one particularly “bad” year (Fall 2002 – Spring 2003!) than I have over the last 20 years of my life with God.Less really is more, sometimes.

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