What is my wish for all this coming year 2016? It is that all of you would be filled!
What do I mean by filled? You probably thought that I meant fulfilled. But, no, alas I just meant to say plain ol’ filled. Some of you may get weird images of jelly doughnuts, or cups or wishing that your gas tank was full. Sorry about that in advance, also sorry about any potentially odd anecdotes or metaphors used in this post. I usually cannot avoid those, as I have already given example to in this paragraph.
Anyways: filled. Not just slightly filled, but completely until there is not any space for anything else, and if this was a glass of water, it would be spilling over the edges. Those of you who grew up, or spent many years in church camps have frequently seen this image, apologies for redundancy. Don’t worry though, I am not planning on using that analogy anytime soon.
It may be plaguing many of your minds as to what the substance or essence this is doing the filling and into which cavern of the intricate human framework? In the recesses of my brain which has been away from school too long? In the hollow cavern of my heart in which heartbreak has made dry and desolate? In the hollow hole that is my stomach in which I can never seem to satisfy? Well, I guess I mean all of them, every bit, every dusty room, crevice and cavern that has seemed to form, or has always existed.
What is the substance or essence that could fill every part that desire has left barren? Simply put, its Jesus, in which Holy Spirit (the breath, the presence, the bringer of comfort from Father God) delivers the news of freedom and redemption that is meant to liberate and fill every limb and corner of our weary souls. The news that the Kingdom of God is now. I will not be all post-modern and try to pin it to anything else. But, it is simply that. Let me share with you some parts of my life in which I have felt the great deficit, and am continuing to realize the importance of being completely filled.
This past year, as only very few of you know, my body betrayed me and I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease at the end of January of 2015. For those who do not know what this is, it is an Irritable Bowel Disease and an Auto-immune Disorder, as well as a big pain in the ***. Your body mistakes food, and good bacteria entering the body as harmful, the immune system becomes hyperactive and begins attacking the body from the inside to rid the body of what it thought was “harmful”. Truth be told, I ignored symptoms and tried to tough it out for a year until it got so bad that I was malnourished, had frequent evidence of internal bleeding, was so exhausted that I could barely find energy to do anything but sit and walk to and fro from class, my teeth were yellowing, skin turning sallow, hair lackluster, losing all of my muscle, and dealing with severe pain I had never experienced that was embarrassing and debilitating. I would lie in my bed in my apartment in the night, in pain, and helpless and try to stifle my crying so as not to wake my roommate. It wasn’t until an intervention with my parents that I knew I had to return home to take time off of school. I am so grateful to my friends and family who loved be enough to force me to admit my need and true pain. It literally saved my health.
So, there I was, rebuilding my body from scratch. It was when I was away from the hustle of full-time student life that I noticed all of the holes and crevices that had formed not only in my physical health, but also the areas left unattended for so long within my spiritual and emotional being. These holes seemed gaping, and I had already tried filling them with other things during that previous year of willful ignorance. I tried to fill it with my sheer willful pride to replace the hole that should have been completely given to God to fill with his boundless strength. This is just one example of many.
This last year 2015, I caught myself in the act of filling my mind with the words of others, the self-sought solutions, and the sinful actions that stemmed from those thoughts. It was as if I began to see myself committing these sinful acts in slow motion. After I acknowledged the need for God’s strength (to help me regain health), I noticed all the other holes one by one that I had filled with other things that were not from God. I noticed that instead of reaching out to the ever-present Holy Spirit of God for comfort in my physical weakness and emotional desperation, I looked for a quick fix, many of which I am still regretting. As more and more holes began to appear that were still bone dry after trying to fill them with quick fixes, or habitual actions, I began to get frustrated with myself. God spoke this through the prophet Jeremiah regarding this,
“My people [Israelites] have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
I am thankful that due to recognizing my need for God’s strength to bring me out of the physical and emotional turmoil that surrounded the worst, darkest cavern of my petrified health. I am ridiculously healthier than I used to be, after making many lifestyles changes which included a strict personalized diet, exercise to regain my strength, physical therapy among other doctor visits. I was lucky compared to may people who deal with Crohn’s and are hospitalized for days and put on Steroids. Some even have to have parts of their colon removed due to the disease. I did take steps to better my health, but I wasn’t able to until I filled that deficit in my mind with God’s strength rather than my own. I also began filling it with the words of God, and listening to encouragement from loved ones. Believe it or not, there was a time where I was hostile against encouragement from close loved ones when it came to my physical and emotional health. They bounced off my shiny pride tower like ping pong balls. I avoided scripture because it reminded me of my need, and my weakness.
Some of those parts of me that I have not let God fill have been revealed, a few really vital ones recently. A desire and a promise was put on my heart for 2016. Those deceitful thoughts, selfish thoughts, sensual thoughts, whatever thoughts it may be, that drive me to fill my life with things not of God, and act out in certain ways, that those would be uprooted and refilled with the words of God. I will let those thoughts be thoughts and not pass through into meditative thoughts and then action. Refilled is the word.
We can be refilled. Even if we have filled our life with everything but God, he still invites us to believe in him and the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ, and be filled with his Holy Spirit. So, I pray that you just do that. It is just like the woman at the well, she tried to keep herself filled through her multiple relationships, she drank of the water given from the earth draw up by man, and not that given by the Son of Man, the Atoner. He speaks to her in John 4:13-14,
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
There is a promise in store. As Jesus many times is referred to as a fountain, a living water, he makes this promise in John 7:38,
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
No human can guarantee us eternally flowing satisfaction, there comes a time when the emotions wear off associated with that thing that used to fill that need, but eventually we notice it always runs dry when rosy lens break. The fruits that come from the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-control – imparted to us who believe after Jesus was glorified (explained John 7:39), are always available and never run dry. It depends if we want to give up our stagnant solutions for his transforming solutions.
Believe, and be filled!