June 2, 2013
“Life is…..like a B-grade movie. You don’t want to leave in the middle, but you don’t want to see it again.” Media Mogul Ted Turner
“It sounds so trendy, California….but I believe a lot of us feel a kind of hole in our heart – an unfocused ache that’s fixed by some people eating too much, for others with free base. In my case, I’m a romantic junkie.” One time leading Hollywood actress to USA Today
One of the strange things about our culture is how hard our media folk work and angle to interview people who have to be the epitome of emptiness. I have many more quotes like this of “successful” people. But my point is not to trash Hollywood, and there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with being successful. My objective is rather to use their easy to find quotes to illustrate a condition that is true of all of us – – and that is – soul emptiness and spiritual bankruptcy.
We can excel at our work and our craft and compile earned degrees, and all kinds of material status symbols (e.g. cars, houses, etc.), but at the end of the day we come home, plop in bed, and are as empty and unfulfilled as ever (typically).
Men and women of God have known this forever. Many – like St. Augustine – found out the hard way. Listen to a few voices that God has used many times over the years to help me see where I have gone a miss, and what was at the core of my restlessness and spiritual malaise.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the life of every man that only God can fill.” Paschal – great French Physicist
“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” St. Augustine
“The heart can never be at unity with itself, till it is wholly centered in God.” George Whitefield – Great Evangelist of the first Great Awakening – perhaps greatest preacher England has ever produced.
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean…..” Jonathan Edwards – 1725 – perhaps the greatest preacher and theologian that the USA has produced, though we weren’t technically the USA then/yet.
We shouldn’t be surprised that people who are still lost in their sins and who don’t know God from Adam are walking in this kind of emptiness. My concern today is not these people. My concern is rather those of us who know better.
How many merciful invitations from Jesus Christ Himself do we have to have – to heed our greatest call and our greatest need? Fortunately – He continues to give these invitations – knowing all too well – how prone we are to wander. Listen to the words of Christ Himself:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”John 4:13,14
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
We believers know Jesus is the Son of God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Savior of the World. We know only He can forgive our sins and give us the gift of eternal life. But we don’t seem to know – based on how we live – how much we need Him to not just forgive us, but to also FILL us and satisfy us.
When I moved to San Jose, CA on my own just months before my 20th birthday, I was a parched desert spiritually. For the first time in my life, at least partially because I only knew one person in the Golden State, I devoured the scriptures. One day early in my time there God spoke to me through David’s example in Psalm 63:3, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.” And then vs. 5, “My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, ….” For much of my first 19 and a half years I had looked for love in all the wrong places, and sought satisfaction from sources that couldn’t deliver.
What I hate to confess today is how quickly I can still lose sight of this. And how quickly I can settle for less – like busyness in the work of the church, instead of fullness in the pursuit of Christ Himself. When the church loses sight of this, Hollywood has no chance! So I write these words – not because I have mastered the art of only seeking my God created need for satisfaction and fulfillment in Him. But rather because I’m hoping some of you will remind me some day – when I need a reminder – of what I have written.