A friend asked me a question recently that challenged me. Here was a woman who has everything in worldly terms: relationships, family, wealth, education, prestige and power. In our culture’s eyes, she has it all. I am sure I am not the first to look at her and think, “Wow, I wonder what it would be like to be her with no financial strain, an amazing family, and little stress.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised by her question knowing that these things don’t fill us, but I was still stunned. She said, “I feel a deep void within me. Nothing can seem to make me truly deeply happy. I seem to be running in circles trying to fill this great big hole that can’t seem to ever get full. I have a sense I need to connect with God but I have no idea how. If I am honest, I am scared to approach God.”
My friend is not alone in her feeling a “persistent deep hole.” She is echoing the cry of the human heart. For centuries, this void has been described vividly by some of the world’s greatest philosophers and everyday people alike. The fact of the matter is that every human being has this "hole."
In the 5th century, St. Augustine said, "Lord, you have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until we find rest in You." He describes how he came to this conclusion in his revealing spiritual autobiography called “The Confessions.” For many years, Augustine searched to fill this "void" with money, power, relationships and meaningless sex, yet nothing would fill it. He had a radical conversion to Jesus and realized that there is a place in the human heart reserved for God alone. It remains en empty cavern until it is filled with God.
17th century French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal described the "hole" this way, "What else does this craving, this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and unchangeable object; in other words by God himself."
If I am honest with myself, even as a believer in Jesus connected with God and in full time ministry, I also can all too easily feel that void. Like all Americans, I am bombarded with hundreds of advertisements every day that tell me a way to fill the void with new things and quick fixes. St. Paul, one of the most passionate followers of Jesus in the Bible, described this longing to fill the hollowness as "groaning." Even as Christians, we groan from time to time. Even the 20th century, Saint Mother Theresa experienced this aching.
Jesus, God in human flesh, said, "I have come that you may have life and life in abundance." We humans are meant to experience that abundant, amazing life with God here on earth. God made us to have our hearts filled with His Spirit, His love, forgiveness and His overflowing life. He longs to do it in our lives right now, here on earth. He unceasingly wants to fill the void that was made for Him alone.
So how do seekers and believers alike fill the void? We must all renew our mind daily.
Like any relationship, our relationship with God is a process. It unfolds and grows over time. What is needed most is a willingness and open heart to Him for the relationship to progress. God says in James chapter one in the Bible, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." He never breaks His promises.
Over and over again, the words of the Bible show a God who is just waiting for us to even glance His way. No matter what we have done, what we are doing, no matter how much we think we have messed up, God is waiting to wrap His arms around us and love us. The story of the prodigal son is just this. The Father sees the son who has turned away from Him in the distance. The Father of the wayward son does not stand with his arms crossed; no, this Father runs to his son and throws his arms around him. He gives his son his best clothes and throws him a party. How joyous! This is unconditional love!
God made us and He knows us. Psalm 139 says that God knows our thoughts before we even think them and that nothing will turn His love away from us. God says, "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you."
The book of Romans in the Bible says, "Nothing will separate us from God's love."
So how to begin? Whether we have been followers of Jesus for years or are searching to connect with God for the first time, the principles are the same. Take some time to talk with God. Tell him your needs, your hurts, things you want forgiveness for, things you are thankful for, things that make you fearful, things that excite you: everything. He knows them already but this will open the door for Him to come in to your heart and thoughts. Then in stillness, read scripture; this is His love letter to you. Meditate on these words to you, like reading a love letter to you from God. Begin even for 5 minutes. Let His peace which passes understanding wash over you. This will begin the deeper walk. This is the life-giving fulfillment reserved for us given freely from our Lord.