Devastation, Desires, and Delight

One Sunday evening, in my parent’s living room, as I stood in front of our neighbor, Alice, I gave my heart to Jesus. A little towheaded five-year-old girl, feeling the Holy Spirit’s incredible power coursing through me–my childhood’s most cherished memory.

Bible stories were learned and the grand old hymns of the faith, which I still love today. Music, singing in particular, was my passion, and I sang my heart out every day. I began writing music with stars in my eyes and at a young age having many hopes, dreams, and desires for my life. But they all took a bumpy backseat ride in my early teens.

When I was 12 years old, my brother Donnie got sick. Doctors told us there wasn’t much hope and determined he had about three to six months to live. Donnie spent a great deal of the next year-and-a-half in the hospital where he ultimately died. He was 18, and I was 14. Donnie’s life and our lives had been struck by an acute case of leukemia. Our hearts were crushed. My heart was crushed.

Everyone grieves differently, and, as we all know, grief has many stages. Each person of our family went through these stages of grief. While my parents walked through the valley of the shadow of death, they trusted God and in His promises. They continued to sing the great hymns of the faith with fervor, leaning on His everlasting arms. Simultaneously, the rest of us got stuck in one of the stages, unable to take the grief cycle’s next step. Coping was and still is, to some degree, hard for us all. Some are still stuck after 40 years, as they are still angry and seemingly blaming God.

Society tells us we need to do what feels good, what satisfies us, which each of us siblings did–much to our parents’ dismay. My brothers went off the deep end–dropping out of school, blaming God, quitting church, carousing, and getting in trouble. I found myself ever on the fence. I was dabbling in the world, but staying in church. I was partying and praying at the same time. Nothing could satisfy my emptiness or cure my overwhelming sorrow. I was utterly miserable in my duplicity, my hypocritical living–being torn by what I knew was right and my rebellious grieving.

This journey continued down a crazy winding road. I cannot even comprehend the sorrow of my parents. I do know that it was only by the grace of God that they got through it with the four of us kids freaking out in our own way while they buried and mourned the loss of their second-oldest son, our father’s namesake.

If I had only dealt with my sorrow in a better way. I regret to this day my sinful state–my self-absorbed and destructive behavior. I knew the Lord and had felt His presence, but I was double-minded. I was always at church and church functions, but I was stuck in fear, disappointment, and grief. I wasn’t mad at God, but I was disillusioned. So, I played church. I think I did this for my parents’ sake more than my own, but God had other plans. He was working in my life. I was two different people, walking a thin line down a slippery slope, close to the cliffs, yet praying for relief as I “talked the talk” and “walked the walk” at church and with my parents. I felt wretched.

Somehow I made it through high school with decent grades and pursued higher education, moving 400 miles away to attend California Baptist College in Riverside, CA. I knew if I got away from home, friends, and negative influences, I could make a change in my downward spiral. Thank God it worked.

To be completely honest, I messed around much more than I should have in college, but I felt God began the healing process. Surrounded by believers, I listened to predominately Christian music in college, singing to God, until one day, I found myself worshiping God in spirit and truth. This is a poem I wrote pondering the years I wasted.

Nothing Else
Kaci Rigney

Within me was a place
That longed to be filled.
The more I tried to fill it,
The wider it seemed to grow.
I felt so empty.

A longing so deep
The ocean could not fill it.
An aching so vast
The universe could not touch it.
I felt so empty.

I tried so many things
To make me feel complete.
They only made me long for
A bigger and better thing.
I felt so empty.

But when You came in
You brought me so much more
Than I’ve ever known.
You filled me completely
With a love that has grown and grown.

No more empty longings.
No more feeling lost.
No more searching, trying.
I found it all in You at the cross.

Nothing else would satisfy.
Nothing else would do.
Nothing else could fill the void,
Nothing else, but You.

God moved in my life in a big way. I was a Music Major at a Christian college pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree, writing Christian music, and feeling less grief-stricken and self-absorbed. My life was at a turning point, and I began seeing the hand of God working around me. I felt His presence and started walking accordingly. I am not saying everything was perfect, and I was “Miss Goody-two-shoes,” but God was working, and I felt Him doing so. God had intervened, and I began moving, passed my grief, and toward my goals.

There came a time in my life when a choice had to be made. I couldn’t get to heaven by my father’s shirttails or by the apron strings of my mother. Yes, I gave my heart to Christ Jesus when I was 5 years old, yet I surrendered to His will, and He became Lord when I was in college. I came to realize that there’s more to life than what I wanted or thought that I wanted.

The Word of God tells us in Psalm 37:4 (NASB) “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I began delighting in the Lord. He gave me His desires. When I chose to do what God desired for me, I found that the hopes, dreams, and desires for my life refocused and, ironically, fulfilled beyond what I ever imagined. Fancy that.

Life is complicated and unfair, but God is good. I find when life seems easy, I praise Him. I find when life throws me a curve-ball, I need to praise Him even more. Worship calms me, lifts my spirits, brings me peace, and comforts my soul. In praising the Lord through worship songs, I feel healing take place, burdens lifted from my shoulders, and I am clean and pure in Christ Jesus. I feel the Holy Spirit awaken within me and fill me powerfully. I pray that when reading these lyrics, you will find comfort, forgiveness, and healing within the words. Soak in the Holy Spirit and let Him breathe new life into your being. Give yourself over to worship and praise and surrender to His way, which is always perfect.

No Greater Purpose
Kaci Rigney

You are my everything.
O Lord, on You I stand.
My every hope, my every dream
All rest within Your hand.
Your desire for my life is good,
It is more than I could dream.
You want the best for me, Lord.
You want the best for me.

With a love so pure,
So strong You calm my soul.
You give me faith to trust in You
For ways higher than my own.
I have no cause to ever doubt,
Yet I struggle every day.
Still, I give my all to You, Lord.
I give my all to You.

For there is no greater purpose.
There is no better reason why.
There is no greater place of joy,
Than to spend my life in worshipping You

Let me spend my life always with You,
Singing praises unto You, Lord.
And let me spend my life in Your holy presence
Bringing glory to Your mighty name.

For You alone are so worthy;
You are holy.
For you alone are so lovely,
Lord, to me.
For You alone are so worthy;
You are holy.
For You alone are so lovely,
Lord, to me.

For there is no greater purpose.
There is no better reason why.
There is no greater place of joy,
Than to spend my life
In worshipping You .

2 thoughts on “Devastation, Desires, and Delight

  1. Thank you Kaci for putting “you” out there here on paper for every eye to read! I love it! Love you! So so beautifully written….probably not easy….. But thank you for sharing, for writing, for giving; I have been wanting to write for a while now…..but ……. So much emotion and still so very sad….maybe one day I will get it all out. Love you Kaci

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. If you haven’t written about John, you might consider it. Even if no one sees it but you and God. Love you, my sweet cousin. Miss you!

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