Something is missing. A part of our lives that we need in order to be whole… is not there. This is the way everyone feels, whether rarely or constantly, and this is a feeling we try to overcome. There is a solution to the problem. And it isn’t a car, or a better girlfriend, or a cool new whatever. These things can be enough of a distraction, though, for us to ignore the ache caused by an empty space in our hearts. Attempting perfection through belongings and relationships is the first alternative to seeking out the God who designed us to connect with him. The others – denial and plain, frustrated anger – are equally effective and costly.
Everyone wants to be happy. And everyone wants to feel as though he or she is contributing something. Only the most extremely spaced-out academics would argue against these truths. But even when we accept what we undeniably feel, we tend to take the feeling for granted and leave it at that. The source of these longings is a dangerous, complicated topic that usually seems better left unanswered. Denial is pretty easy when we are scared of the answers. It gets easier with practice, until only your worst days stir the shouting in your soul – something is missing.
Obsession with unimportant things goes hand in hand with denial. If a bad day were all it took for people to seek real truth and turn their lives around, the world would be very different. But instead, when everything goes wrong we can blame lack of posessions or power. Immediately I can think of lots of cool stuff that maybe, if I could get my hands on, would fill the gap in me. This basic idea is the foundation for the very lives of many people: ie. “when I get out of school and get a good job, my sense of pointlessness will go away.” Sound familiar? From then on, the variety of potential achievements, experiences, and belongings available to me could probably occupy me for the rest of my life. A new car every few years, an attractive wife who shares my sense of humor… that should do it.
And this is a shame. If I work hard enough in school and at my job, I can make enough money and meet enough people to keep me distracted and denying the emptiness underneath it all. That’s it. All a person would have to do is ignore the longing that still surfaces once in awhile and maybe learn to be content with less than they’d originally planned. Again, this is what a great many people do – and enough people do it well that it’s become self perpetuating. The American dream of climbing the ladder and partying it out when you reach your desired level is popular, visible, and easy enough to imitate.
But obviously, something that requires success and money will not work for everyone. Capitalism really is a brutal thing and if you don’t have the right skills, work ethic, or timing well that’s just too bad. So you get stuck at the bottom, or knocked down part way, or just not as far as you want. The natural human reaction is to get angry, so that’s what we do. And rather than realize what we’re fighting for is pointless, our bitterness often spreads through every aspect of life. Whether we give up or keep plugging along, we’ve become mad at the world. Someone angry at the world is not likely to believe it was created by a loving God.
So, one way or another, pride has its way of making us so self-centered we cannot believe in anything bigger than us. For any or all of the above three reasons, God is cornered out of our lives. Not a good idea. God is the only thing capable of answering our deepest longings and making us worthwhile. He did create us to have fun but more so to experience true, unconditional love — which is not possible apart from him. Obviously I haven’t lived an entire lifetime but I’m not so sure that reduces my credibility. Maybe if I’d tried for 40 years instead of 18, perfection would have come to me and brought me peace. I say this sarcastically, but maybe people out there would agree.
Also sad is the fact that nothing I say can convince someone their frustrations are needless. I can’t write based on honesty and leave out the fact that, honestly, I know I can’t persuade people to give up their obsessions and ask God to step in where they’ve failed. Thankfully I do believe I have some degree of talent in writing, and if my words might bring one person a little closer to God that’s awesome. A real, daily relationship with God is possible thanks to Jesus and while it does not involve any strange religious voodoo it does require admitting you need Him. The decision is yours.
Are you a skeptic? by Josh McDowell
Ancient evidence for Jesus from ‘non-Christian’ sources by Christianity.com