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!

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To My Son (An Ode to Empty-Nesting)

I must be feeling a bit nostalgic today. I was going through pages of my journal and found something I had written a few years back. It reminded me for one that this empty-nester stuff is not all it’s cracked up to be. When my oldest son first left home, I had no idea that I would soon be joining the ranks of the divorced. I would also begin to experience a new level of loneliness I had not thought possible. Then he announced his upcoming move to another state to continue working with his company’s headquarters. I literally felt my heart being ripped from my body at the thought that I might not see him anymore except for brief periods of time. I would catch myself thinking of how much I loved this young man with whom I had a hand in raising to his manhood, and I would sigh a very long sigh. I would think of the day he was born, of his Christian upbringing in a loving but very imperfect family, and how gracious God is to forgive and watch over my son in spite of my own failures. So, I sat down and penned the following and gave it to him the day he left.

 

Sighs emit from nose and mouth, unbidden.

Waiting+at+the+airportI kissed you goodbye today.

Do you know that you are the first man I did not have to grow to love?

It was love at first sight. You were safe in your father’s arms when I met you.

 

Today I gave you back to your Father’s arms.

I never really owned you; you were on loan to me.

As it should be.

And now there is yearning in this empty space.

 

I have an awareness now that I did not have as I was growing older.

Longing will never be quenched this side of the curtain.

God’s wisdom allows us mere glimpses of His glory in those we love here.

When we love well.

 

There is no difficulty in a mother’s love for her children.

Only yearning.

Moments at the breast turn to days at the knees, months in the classroom and years in the world.

All the while longing for this tiny soul to ripen into manhood. You are there.

 

You are on the cusp of expanding your boundaries.

You are beginning to experience this yearning of living and loving for yourself. Your heart longs for fulfillment of desire.

And so, my yearning is for your joy, and the satisfaction of all that God in His kindness toward you, bestows.

You see, He desires you most.

 

All our longing leads back to the Father.

He is our supreme happiness, the joy of our hearts, the satisfaction of our greatest desires.

And so we wait and hope for heaven while we live out our lives on earth with yearning.

I gave you back to your Father today.

 

He is listening to the sighing of my heart.

Race Against Time

My youngest son used to listen to the band, O Sleeper, a hard metal, Christian band. I wanted to show an interest in his type of music, but frankly, I had a difficult time because the vocalists screamed the lyrics instead of singing them. What I really enjoyed about the music is that my son played the songs flawlessly on the drums. No small feat. I became interested in one of the songs in particular because of the startling lyrics. The name of the song is Charlatan’s Host.

o sleeperI decided to see if I could write something that O Sleeper would be proud to scream while maintaining my personal self and where I was at in my life. I encourage you to find Charlatan’s Host on the web, listen to it, then come back and put that style to my lines. Let me know what you think.

Tell me!

What does it benefit to allow the enemy

to rush across the gray matter beneath the skulls of humanity,

making twisted paths and desolate places in the attempt

to capture the flag!o sleeper 2

 

This diabolical beast is known only for destruction

and saved for its final breath.

Is there a glory in my own destructive end?

Can I withstand the fury and the flames that are set

at the perimeter to wait and watch as I am devoured whole?

 

Where is the protection you promised for the faithful?

Did you delight in the blood of the sinless One

so that my blood is only a symbol of that suffering for my good?

 Who will see a tortured soul as only you can?

 

They can only see what is on the outside

and what falls from my mouth in torrents and waves of deceit.

This is not the real me.

The real me bleeds red, like He did.

Don’t turn away from me in my anguish.

No one understands like you,

 but you do not recognize me apart from my pain.

 

How do I bridge the gap that is the wide expanse between my body and my soul?

 Why can they not see me and love me as you do?

If they were to hear my thoughts and bear my burdens

 would they run away from their own anguish?

 

Would they behold themselves when they view my image in the mirror?

Can we not see that we are all the same?

We bleed together and we die in pain.

 

Futility is the end of all that breathe

 if desire is limited to this plane of earth we inhabit.

There is a longing that cuts through flesh, blood and bone.

The human spirit yearns to intermingle with His intangible own.

 

He is more real than the vastest imagining of the minds of men.

That ideal which sustains the greatest thoughts and achievements.

Oh how He laughs from the heavens!

Our puny thinking is nothing to Him.

We have no choice but to bow down in humility and despair.

There is no flag to be captured.