Paradox of Full: When We Think We Are, We Aren’t

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I recently read a blog that contained an excerpt of The Heidelberg Confession. I had to pause for reflection as I read:

“Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

What is my only comfort in life and in death? I can with all assurance say that I believe the answer above is my confession. But my life experience will show that I have not experienced the truth of those words. Not here, not now. I believe there is a future day when I will be with Christ and my fullness in Him will be realized. But can I experience that fullness now? Can you experience that fullness now? Perhaps. But our potential is blocked by the madness of sin in our lives. The sins that have been committed against us and the sins we have committed against ourselves and others. And these sins, at times, confuse the signals in our brains and cause us to feel empty when we really aren’t. I over-eat to compensate for my emptiness. While I have never been morbidly obese, the eating behavior is still present. It is hard-wired in my brain and tells me that eating is a pleasurable activity and I can feel full any time I want. Of course this is not true and many other people would attest to that, because we have to keep eating more and more. So, what is happening here is at the root of desire.

Every living thing on the planet has been given the gift of desire. Desires drive us toward fulfillment. We desire to be full or to be filled. We are motivated to seek fulfillment over and over. Why? Because we also experience emptiness. When we are empty we look for something to fill us again. We don’t like the feeling of emptiness, so we seek to be filled. This is good desire.

While our desires are common,( need for food, water, intimacy, etc) the expression of those desires (what we desire, where we desire, and with whom we desire) are as varied as each individual. Our past experiences, our culture and our families, in many ways, shape the expression of our desires. While the desires themselves have been declared by God to be “good,” sin and suffering has affected every part of our being as humans and that includes our desires.

The paradox is this: We attain to be filled here and now, and while we can have some fulfillment we can’t have it all. Everytime we engage in eating or sexual relations, sports, recreational activities, building our families, worshiping God (collectively or individually), we have to keep coming back to be filled and filled again. Because we get empty. We don’t like empty. And this is especially true of people who have been abused or are experiencing abuse of some kind.That is because their brain has lost the ability to recognize their own feeling of empty and full. So,some turn to sexual promiscuity, or they develop eating disorders, or eat more than their body can metabolize. They turn to drugs or alcohol to escape the unavoidable emptiness that is so much a part of their life.There is a heightened desire, almost a feeling of desperation to be filled all the time, but they cannot attain it.

Here is the solution: Since we can’t avoid emptiness on this side of heaven, we can choose to be grateful for the feeling of emptiness because it ultimately brings us to the only one who can fill us completely. He fills us with His Spirit for this life He has called us to. Everytime we feel empty we are reminded that we are totally dependent on God for our food, for our health and for our joy in living. Yes,on earth, we need to be filled over and over again. Because we belong to God and He has given every provision for us to come to Him for filling, we can know that in Heaven we will be filled with Himself and we will have no need for any other fulfillment. He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water and the Door by which we will enter into an eternity of riches that have been promised to anyone who is acquainted with physical and emotional hunger in this life. There will be no more cravings or hunger of any kind.

I want to leave my emptiness behind me. I want to be filled by the Spirit of the living God. I can give myself wholly to the Christ who emptied Himself so that I could receive His fullness. The Heidelberg confession lets us realize this dependence on the finished work of Christ, for our fulfillment now, and at the time of our death when we are finally emptied of this body that we carry on earth. Come with me on this journey, together we will discover the endless provisions of an Almighty God!

Creator Contact

He delights in startling the creature.

He waits patiently for the surprised acknowledgement…images (4)

“He is up to something again!”

This puzzle piece goes here, and that one over there.

This grand and gradual revelation of His divine plan.

The surprise factor, meant to amaze and excite,

Has at its root a flawed ideology on the part of the creature,

that the Creator of all things couldn’t possibly stoop to love and delight in His creation.

We need not be amazed at all.

We were made for contact.

Rest

bird_at_waterfall

From my reading today in Streams of the Desert, by L.B. Cowman:

“Two painters were once asked to paint a picture illustrating his own idea of rest. The first chose for his scene a quiet, lonely lake, nestled among mountains far away. The second, using swift, broad strokes on his canvas, painted a thundering waterfall. Beneath the falls grew a fragile birch tree, bending over the foam. On its branches, nearly wet with the spray from the falls, sat a robin on it’s nest. The first painting was simply a picture of stagnation and inactivity. The second, however, depicted rest.”

I always start my day with what I consider to be both rest and rejuvenation at the same time. I have an early appointment with my Creator in which I hope to lean into Him a little harder, learn about Him a little smarter and allow His light to shine ahead of me so I follow Him a little more bravely. Since I am human, I do this more in theory than in practice, in spite of the fact that I rarely miss my morning appointment. Some days, I simply hope to find rest.

I am learning that life simply does not go the way we plan. It does not matter whether we are male, female, white, black or any other color, healthy, sick, rich, poor, privileged, underprivileged. We all have this in common. We are broken and we live in a broken world. But here is the secret I think the second painter wants us to realize. We can experience rest among the turmoil, and in fact, that is where we will experience it the most. But it comes with a price. The price of letting go and trusting Someone much higher than ourselves.

I like what the Proverbs 31 women, Girlfriends in God,  have to say about this topic of trust and rest.

“Truth is always the basis for trust and trust is always the basis for rest. We rarely take time to stop, be still and listen, allowing His truth to soak into our hearts and minds where trust and faith grow strong on a steady diet of truth. As a result, our faith is weak and rest is hard to find. When we learn to sit at the feet of Jesus, we will know Him better, trust Him more and find the rest we so desperately crave. Clarity of purpose and right focus will come. And that, my friend, is the cornerstone of a life in balance.”