I was feeling pretty thoughtful last night, because I get like that sometimes when the temperature drops unexpectedly, so my friend Chelsea came over and sat with me on the step outside of my bedroom and we talked for a while about life and love and God. It was one of those rare moments where everything seemed immensely clear, like everything we said made sense, more than ever before. There is just something about sitting outside on May night in Nashville talking with a friend..you get the feeling that you’re out in the open, that you’re free and that there’s no need to hide anything. It was like I was piecing together who I am, and who God is, in the midst of the world and in the midst of me. We talked about everything from politics to love to church and God and families. It was beautiful.
When we were talking about families, something snapped into place in my mind, and it was one of those moments I’ll never forget because I knew that from that moment forward I would see things differently. Chelsea and I both come from good families, but they are both different, and our conversations about them, and about our friends families, led me to the realization that some people find and experience God through a void and a longing left by something they never got from someone else, and others find God as more of a continuation of what they already know to be true about love and forgiveness and grace. What I mean by that is, people who have lost something, say a parent or a sibling, or who have never had a real family or known true unconditional love, find God through their longing to fill that void, to belong and to feel loved and valued. And people who have had good families, and parents that came to their soccer games and Mom’s who wrote them notes in their lunch boxes, come to experience God not as a void being filled, but instead as the ultimate example of the unconditional love and respect that they already know from their own families.
I realize that this may seem entirely simplistic, like common sense, but on my step last night with Chelsea, it made a lot of things make sense to me that had never made sense before. Maybe you had to be there, I don't know. But It was like I could understand so many things that I’ve seen happen over the years, so many things that I myself have even done even. If you think about people experiencing God in the context of the voids inside that they either have or lack, things really start making sense, so much so that you get to thinking you can understand everyone, like you’re a shrink or something. I got to feeling pretty smart for a little while, but I didn’t let it go to my head or anything.
The problem with all of this is, with the voids, is that God is not usually the first thing that people who have voids inside of them try to fill them with. It’s usually things like sex or money or drinking or anything, really, to the excess. I mean, have you ever seen the show Hoarders? Talk about voids. The truth of the matter is that people who feel an emptiness inside of them will go out of their way to do just about anything to feel like they are whole and complete. And it works for a while, I mean, I know a lot of really rich people who probably just got that way to fill a void, to try to make people like them or tell them they matter, and for the time being, they are happy. But they’re not as happy as they could be, and the worst part is, they probably don’t even realize that. Because the thing is, we are not supposed to feel complete in anything besides God. We were actually made that way. He is the only thing that can fill our emptiness, and trying to find wholeness with anything else or with anyone else will only disappoint us, time and time again.
My favorite book of the bible is Ecclesiastes, because I think that Solomon and I are very much alike. I mean, besides the whole super rich king thing. Solomon knows about the voids. The whole book is about all of the dumb stuff he does in order to fill the emptiness that he feels inside. He’s determined to find the meaning of life. And lucky for him, he was the king at the time, which meant that he could do whatever he wanted, and so he does pretty much everything imaginable. He gets really smart, really laid, really rich, and really fat. The whole book is like a break-up mixed tape on repeat-he keeps trying to find what he’s looking for, and he fails every time. It's almost painful to watch. But at the end of the book, he finally gets it. He realizes that living for God and doing His will is all that matters.
I like Ecclesiasts because it’s my story, and I’d venture to say that it’s many of yours as well. That being said, you would think that we would recognize this and learn from his mistakes, so that we can go straight to the good part at the end of the book where he gets it, right? But we don’t. We do the same thing that he did, every single day. We think we can make ourselves happy with that car or that job or that person. But we are wrong.
So the question is, how many things will we try to fit inside ourselves before we realize that God is what we’re looking for? How much money will we blow on useless crap, how many cars will we own, how many promotions will we go relentlessly seeking before we understand that those things cannot fill the emptiness we feel? How many broken relationships will we throw ourselves into before we realize that they will never love us like God can? I believe that people are good, and that we are all made in God’s image, but we were designed to receive our love and value from God, not from other people. I know this is true because I know a lot of people who have everything in the world going for them, but at the end of the day, they still feel empty inside. For us as humans to try to live happily and feel loved and whole outside of a relationship with Jesus is impossible. It is only in our Creator that we can find the completeness we want so badly. I mean, It makes sense if you think about it. God made us, so He must know what we're looking for, right?
So whats the good news? Whether you have a void or not, we all need Jesus. We may have all come to understand our need for Him through different circumstances in life, but we all need Him nonetheless. And He is always there, waiting and eager to take us on the journey He's planned for us all along. So take a lesson from me and Solomon, and save yourself a lot of pain and heartache: seek Him first.