True fulfillment sometimes eludes us at every turn. We grind through everyday life doing what we do, and sometimes we pause for a moment, only to find ourselves feeling empty. We ask ourselves, “Is this all life has to offer? Is this all I can expect out of my journey?”
So we set goals, create dream boards, and make ourselves promises – composed of the things we think will fulfill us. These things might include money, title, a dream car or new toy, or maybe a new home. Sometimes, we blame our lack of fulfillment on our spouses and carry resentments, or we choose to separate, or even divorce, in search of what will fulfill us. And our church – if they’d only see things my way and treat me better I’d feel fulfilled. I’ve seen this “hamster wheel” go on and on in people’s lives, including mine, and it’s time for all of this to stop.
Searching turns up little fulfillment
I’ve found that those who leave their church, spouse, or job in search of fulfillment often find themselves leaving their new one when they feel unfulfilled again, sometimes in just a few years. This is because outside influences cannot bring us fulfillment. And neither will achieved goals, the dream car or the new house. They might for a while, but we soon find that wherever we go, there we are. The common denominator is us, not others or other things.
Now, I am not saying to just sit idle and not strive for what you want. That is a part of life! But I am saying that things, title, money or others will never make you feel fulfilled. These things are great, but can often be distractions for what we are truly called to do.
The Flow is what Fulfills
Matthew 26:6-13 tells of a woman who poured out everything she had for Jesus. Some proclaimed it was a waste, and it could have been used for something better. That is when Jesus answered them and explained that in her heart, she had done a beautiful thing! Do you think she felt fulfilled when Jesus said this? What would you give to hear those words out of His mouth? He also said in Matthew 25:31-46, ‘‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” He is describing “The Flow.”
My good friend Bob Harrison often talks of The Dead Sea. It is dead because there is only inflow and no outflow, and all of the minerals and normally healthy things that flow are trapped and can’t flow out again. This causes the water to become so toxic that nothing can live in it.
I believe our lives are like the sea. We were meant to pour out what we have so we can be filled again. If we don’t, we soon find that we are unhappy in our Dead Sea of a life. This is where we ask ourselves, “Really? I thought money would make me happy. Now I find I still have the same problems I did when I was broke – they’re just more expensive!” The same happens in marriages, churches, and in every area of life.
The journey to fulfillment isn’t found by filling yourself up. True fulfillment comes by pouring yourself out. It begins with your love, moves to your time and energy, and finishes with whatever you have to give. And it’s the one thing God guarantees – that if you test him in your tithe, or pouring yourself out to the things of God – you’ll see a blessing that is “pressed down, of good measure!” That, my friends, is the definition of fulfillment!
So I ask you, what are you running from? What are you chasing that you believe will fulfill you? Life is full of seasons, and we are filled up to be poured out. Where in your marriage can you sow seeds? Where in your church can you plug in and find relationship? What do you have to give that will bring the true fulfillment you are looking for? Listen to Desert Song carefully and ask yourself: what season am I in? What season am I headed for? And what purpose can I find for the struggle I am in?
I identify with this in my food addition and compulsive overeating. In fact, I believe that all of our addictions stem from searching for something that only Jesus can fulfill. His instructions to us weren’t to labor to find things to fulfill us – they were to labor to rest in what He has done. And when we pour out by loving and serving others, we find the peace that surpasses understanding that we long for, and the fulfillment we have always dreamed of. When we do this, I believe our focus turns from our addictions to Jesus, and we can finally rest in that peace – His peace. And then we can quit trying to find it by running from our current situations or chasing a “fix” that will make us feel better.