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November 28, 2016

Only God Can Fill the Void

"He [God] has also set eternity in the human heart…" 
– Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV 

"You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."

– St. Augustine 
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." 
– C. S. Lewis 1

There's a sin-gouged hole in the heart of every person alive—a deep void that screams to be filled. We attempt to fill that void with everything from adrenalin rushing activities to relationships to careers. But the problem with these attempts is this: none of them will ultimately satisfy. Oh, you may find a certain amount of enjoyment and even contentment in those things for a while, but in the end they will leave you empty, longing for something more.

Think about King Solomon. It's hard for us to wrap our minds around how rich he was. First Kings 10:14 tells us that Solomon received 666 talents of gold each year as a base income. In today's market that would be around 1.5 billion a year. That's a lot of money no matter what century you live in! Basically, Solomon was so rich, he could buy whatever he wanted; and he took full advantage of his assets. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:10, "And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…"( ESV). Isn't that the dream of most men today? Unlimited resources, power and respect, excitement and pleasure? "If I could just win the lottery then I'll be all set," we secretly dream. Solomon had all of it. But listen to what Solomon eventually confessed—"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." (2:11)

All vanity and striving after wind? Nothing to be gained? Those are some heavy words. But it gets worse! Solomon continued in verse 17, "So I hated life …" Ok. Wow. So the guy who had everything—women, adventure, power, unlimited resources for his creative desires, even beautiful retreats to relieve stress, ends up hating life?! Solomon didn't say he was just lacking in some area, but that he "hated life!" That's because nothing in this life can fill the void. Nothing.

What was true for Solomon is true for us. When we try to make things in this life fill the void we sense, we end up hating those things that we poured all our hopes into, because they ultimately fall short of satisfying us. Many men hop from adventure to adventure seeking their next "fix." Some even hop from one relationship to another. But the problem is it's a never ending cycle, because only God can fill the void.

Here's another important point: when we attempt to fill the void in us with things other than God, those things become idols. All of those "other" things are not wrong in themselves. We are free to enjoy them in their proper place but anything in our lives that get the devotion that God alone deserves becomes an idol. Even the wonderful people in our lives can become idols. Only in an ongoing relationship with God will we find the ultimate peace, intimacy, forgiveness and joy our hearts long for.

"There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." 
– Blaise Pascal 

This devotional is an excerpt from Ignite Your Faith by Dr. Tim Clinton & Max Davis.

1. Paraphrase of Blaise Pascal, Pensees (New York: Penguin, 1997), 45.

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