I watched a movie the other night. In it, a woman desperate to attain something it seems she cannot have, compromises her integrity and settles for a cheap substitute. The emptiness, shame and guilt that follow destroy her. This scene has stuck with me for days. The all-consuming search for that thing that she believes she cannot live without. The complete brokenness of her life even as she chooses to walk this road that she knows she should not, but her desperation drives her to it. The deep realization that what she gained was no comparison to what she sacrificed to get it. The utter sadness of a good life gone.
I could identify with her. In my old life I sacrificed much of myself and gained very little. But even now, as a believer, I still feel the ache of desperation within me. I have tried to fill it with food, but that didn’t work. I have tried relationships, careers, and general busyness, but all have left me more busy, more burdened and still unfulfilled. I long to step into my purpose. To experience a closeness that settles all of my insecurities and equips me for the thing that I have been designed for. I know that this can only be found in the one true Source. But often it seems that I substitute things for Him. I talk about Him, read about Him, write about Him, but never really seek Him. It is almost as if I think it is too hard a task. Like my life is too busy to focus on Him. And yet, I am tempted to try to further my career to find fulfillment, or do a new work of ministry, or write a book. But won’t they all take time, and effort and energy? Won’t they all still leave me empty? I don’t need to be busier. I need what I am doing with my time and energy to be making a difference. I need to walk in the path that He designed for me. I have run enough detours already. I want the straight path now.
As I prayed about this, I found myself confessing all of those things that I have used as substitutes for God. It was a long list! I felt Him telling me that He wants to fill me, but He can’t be present in a life that remains compromised. I must choose Him in every minute. I must choose Him when I talk, when I write, when I think, when I do. I must confess and be forgiven for settling for less in my life. It is not easy. Many of these idols are habitual. I don’t even have to think about them. I just do it. But God has been pointing them out. One by one I “see” what they are and have been confessing and asking forgiveness for each. I need to remove these in order to make room for Him. God tells us that “you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). God is not far away. He does not make it impossible to find Him. But He will not share our hearts with another. Jesus told us the greatest commandment, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). He wants our complete devotion. Once we surrender this, He will be found, He will fill, direct, equip and anoint us to complete the purpose for which we were created. Only then will the craving within be satisfied. Only then will we truly be free.