Even Christians sometimes seek ultimate fulfillment in the wrong places, or through relationships limited in their capacity to satisfy.
Faith-strengthening fellowship with other believers is a top-shelf priority. God often incarnates His love through people who pray for and encourage us. When I’m depressed, the presence offered by close friends is one source of light that penetrates the darkness shrouding me. Yet friendship cannot completely fill the void in my heart, the aching need for more.
As vital as a spouse is in providing love and enhancing joy, not even marriage is the most important among our relationships. There’s still an emptiness within us that only intimacy with God can fill.
In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller insists, “It is an illusion to think that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed. That attitude makes the lover into God. In an ultimate sense, your spouse cannot make you happy. No one should look to a spouse to be God. If I look to marriage to fill the God-sized vacuum in my heart, I will not be in a position to serve my spouse.”
Here’s how another author, whose name I didn’t get, puts it: “God wants to be our perfect lover, but instead we seek perfection in human relationships and are disappointed when our lovers cannot love us perfectly. God wants to provide our ultimate security, but we seek our safety in power and possessions and then find we must continually worry about them. We seek satisfaction of our spiritual longing in a host of ways that may have very little to do with God.”
Augustine echoed the sentiment that only God can satisfy our deepest longings. “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
This doesn’t mean we won’t go periods of time without a sense of God’s presence, nor does it suggest that even God’s love completely satisfies a yearning in this life that only heaven can fulfill. Yet it does mean that intimacy with God will nudge us closer than any other relationship to a state of contentment in the here and now.
What spawned the following poem I wrote was a sobering realization that I tend to rely excessively on close human relationships to fill my own God-shaped void. I’ve sought to deepen human relationships at times with little diligence on cultivating a closer walk with Christ. I’ve even solicited friends’ prayers on vital matters that I didn’t take much time to talk over with God in private. This realization catapulted me to an escalating emphasis on need-meeting intimacy with God.
I have needs that no one can fill.
Not wife nor kids nor friends can heal
the deepest hurts, the yearning for
a perfect love, for something more.
Then who will hear and heed this cry?
Just You, O Lord, can satisfy.
So fill the void, the empty space
within my heart with Your own face.
Yes, feed this hungry heart of mine
until You are its Valentine;
until my heart has cast aside
the things on which I have relied;
until we enjoy close fellowship
and I hold You with tighter grip;
until my unmet needs are gone
and I’m consumed with You alone.
Though I know Him, is the Lord really my soul mate?