you were saved to be sanctified, not satisfied (+ an invitation)


There is a deep sense of emptiness, a dissatisfaction paired with nostalgia, that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Even in my golden growing-up years among the rolling open fields of the Klickitat Valley, I would look to the shadowy blue mountains on the horizon and feel an ache, a void, a strange sensation that not everything was as it should be, even though my life really bore no cause for complaint.

I fought it for a long time. Sometimes, I still do - still want to push back against the discontentment, and feel guilty that I could possibly want more when I have been given so much already. So much that I don't deserve.

But at the moment when my heart was made right before God, was the rest of my life supposed to seem right, too? If it was, why do I feel more formless and void than I did before I met Him - more chaotic and empty and out of whack, like the darkness of the deep before God's Spirit moved and His voice created the earth? Like I'm now more aware of what's missing from my existence, not less?

Holy, holy, holy

When the prophet Isaiah stepped into the heavenly vision of the throneroom of God, he described the scene like this:

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1b-4

Isaiah met God - not just in the spiritual way that we usually do today, but in a vision of the heavenly realm. He sees God as He is - lofty, exalted. Holy, holy, holy.

And his response wasn't an instant sense of completeness or satisfaction with his life; rather, it was utter despair:

Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Isaiah 6:5

Isaiah didn't respond to the vision of the glory of the Lord with the words, "My life is complete," but with the cry, "I am destroyed!" Standing in the presence of the fullness of God Himself, it was impossible not to notice his own lack.

And that's what the holiness of the Lord is. That's what it does, what it demands from us.

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory.
{Isaiah 6:3}

Holy, holy, holy
Sacred, unique, set apart

is the LORD of hosts,
is the I AM of heavenly armies,

the whole earth is filled with His glory.
all of Creation is overflowing with His abundance.

Holy. This is the thing that sets God apart from myself, the tiny adjective that speaks to the vast difference between who I am and who He is.

He is not like us - He is holy. He is other. In Him is glory - a thing I don't possess - from the Hebrew kabod, or abundance. The answer to the void inside of myself.

I think this is why the sting of emptiness and discontentment grows sharper when we walk with God, instead of fading away - because we walk every day incomplete in the presence of the Complete One, ever-so-slowly progressing toward the day when we will "be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (1 John 3:2).

This is what we call sanctification - the process of becoming holy.

God saved us not into a life of immediate wholeness and satisfaction, but into the journey of becoming whole and satisfied. Slowly. Sometimes painfully, like when the burning-hot altar coal touches our lips and sears away our iniquity, or when we are sent to speak truth to a people that rejects it (both experiences that Isaiah had).

And always over the course of a lifetime.

I don't believe we were made to feel perfectly content until the day when we stand before the Throne on the shores of the River of Life. But I do believe that we are given the opportunity to drink of God's fullness here on earth if we choose, by immersing ourselves in the story of who He is and what He has done for us and all of humanity.

If you'd like to immerse yourself with me in this quest to be eternally sanctified by God's Word, I'm going to be launching a challenge to read through the Bible in the first 180 days of 2018 (with the accountability and encouragement of doing it as a group!).

Leave me your email address to get updates as the New Year approaches:


What you'll receive

  • the complete reading plan to get from Genesis through Revelation in exactly 180 days (with weekly rest days!)
  • accountability emails to keep you on track each week
  • study tools & resources to help you get the most out of the experience
  • access to a private Bible180 Facebook group where you can share your thoughts or learn from the insights of others

Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth. {John 17:17}