The week has worn on me, and I find myself feeling empty. Balancing my career, family, friendships and my relationship with God feels like too much, and I sense a deep lack of fulfillment.
I turn to the cupboard and scan the shelves for one thing to satisfy my longing, but the tightness of my jeans reminds me of my resolution to seek the true source of my longing. I turn toward the living room and crash onto the couch, flipping the remote in search of mindless entertainment. Ten minutes later, this too leads to an ardent awareness of my unfulfilled longing.
And I know I’m not alone.
We live in a culture of high stress, over-commitment and exhaustion. We find ourselves rushing from one commitment to the next, and we lack the deep fulfillment we so desperately crave.
What if we lack fulfillment because we’re turning to the wrong sources? What if our lack of satisfaction is found in the fact that we’re missing God’s perfect design for our lives? Let’s look at five reasons our lives lack deep fulfillment and examine a few practical suggestions for living in greater abundance and satisfaction:
We’re turning to the wrong places for refreshment.
At the end of the day, I crave nothing more than good food and captivating entertainment. I often sense a nudge to find a quiet place to read my Bible and pray, but when I’m honest about it, finding a quiet place to pray feels like more work at the end of a work-saturated day. As a result, I continue to fall into the cycle of filling myself with things that never fully satisfy my longing.
It’s easy to turn to food, entertainment, good wine, hobbies and the accumulation of material possessions for refreshment; however, this is not God’s best for us. While none of these things are wrong, when we turn to them as our sole source of refreshment, we lack the ultimate and lasting refreshment. God is calling us to turn to Him to find the refreshment we crave.
We haven’t encountered the depths of God’s passionate love for us.
Closing the door to pray and read my Bible feels like work when I’m not actively encountering God’s passionate love for me in the process. Song of Solomon 4:9 reveals a captivating truth: We hold the power to ravish the heart of Christ when we simply glance in His direction.
Young lovers who exchange glances across a crowded room know what it means to have ravished hearts. One glance is enough to set a heart aflame with passion and love. This is the passion we stir in the heart of our Savior when we momentarily pause and gaze in His direction. Discovering His ravished heart is the most fulfilling encounter of the human experience. God is calling each of His children to go to deeper places of encountering His love.
We encounter His love when we study His attributes through Scripture and apply them to our lives. We encounter His love when we pause to glance in His direction. We encounter His love when we show up to pray and expect Him to pour His love upon us. We were made to walk in the exchange of this love relationship.
We’re living for worldly success.
Climbing corporate ladders, striving for commendable achievement, accumulating a higher net worth and constantly examining our lives for tangible results are all fulfilling for a while. The exhilaration that comes from the promotion is addictive. We succeed, and we crave the next level of success.
Sadly, our constant striving for success ultimately leaves us empty—always longing for the next level of attainment. This is not God’s best for our lives. He is calling us to live for His glory—our ultimate goal is to bring Him pleasure. Sensing God’s pleasure in the way I honor Him in the workplace, invest in relationships and orchestrate my days is the highest form of fulfillment.
We expect relationships with other people to give us what we can only attain from God.
Most of us have high expectations when we marry the beloved companion God has given us. Whether it’s the expectation for ongoing emotional fulfillment, the longing for someone who always wants to commune with us or the hope that the relationship will fill an empty void deep in the soul, we tend to place high expectations on the ones we love the most. Our closest friends and families become expected sources of fulfillment.
Despite our hopes, no human relationship will ever fully satisfy the soul. God created us to long for communion with Him, and it is only through communion with Him that our deepest needs are met.
We’re putting God in a religious box instead of walking in constant communion with him.
Fulfilling communion with God is more than soul-filling interaction in the prayer closets of our lives; it’s learning to walk in constant communion with Him. True communion means we dedicate more than Sunday mornings or the first 10 minutes of every day to walking with Him. We seek quiet moments through worship, Scripture, prayer and simply basking in His affection. We also seek Him as we walk through the grocery store, meet friends for coffee and interact with people in the workplace.
Constant communion with God is an ongoing awareness of His presence, continuing mindfulness of His affection and constant attentiveness to what brings Him pleasure. It’s the ability to have a conversation with a friend while listening for promptings from the Spirit of God to guide the conversation. God doesn’t want to stay in the solitude of the prayer closet or speak only during the Sunday morning worship service. He is asking to walk with each of us through the busyness of our days.
God’s promise is that when we delight in Him, He will fulfill the desires of our hearts. If my greatest desire is for fulfillment that comes through living in the fullness of His love, He is eager to respond. The next time you’re tempted to turn to worldly pursuits for fulfillment, consider seeking God in a way that would ignite your passion for Him. The invitation is open.
Stacey Pardoe is a wife, mother, mentor and writer. She writes about encountering God at staceypardoe.com.