The neon signs light the dreary streets as massive towers of steel and glass spiral upwards towards an empty sky. Our eyes are directed upwards from our feet as a result of the obnoxious colors that reflect off of the aluminum cans and puddles of water in the street. The world around us is a busy place. Flashing lights, stop lights, traffic signs, billboards and advertisements for the next “latest and greatest” thing. It is a beautiful place, but also a crowded one full of stimuli that struggle and fight for our attention. These signs promise us success, happiness, security, peace, and fulfillment. They feed into the “if you have this, you will finally be content” complex. Can they deliver on these promises? As many have come to realize, wealth does not necessarily equate with happiness – and scripture would maintain this truth.
In our lives, we face numerous struggles and trials that can be seemingly impossible to bear. Whether it is a break-up, a severed friendship, or the death of a loved one, we often find it hard to carry on. So, in the face of these painful circumstances, a hole or a void is opened. We feel empty, alone, or like a part of us is incomplete or missing. To deal with this, we often find ourselves gravitating towards things that are comforting or make us feel good. For some people they look towards food. For others it could be shopping, exercising, listening to music, sex, gaming, or any other activity that can distract them from thinking about their reality or circumstances. But, these things that society promises will make us feel better and make us happy are like band-aids. They can’t stitch up the hole, they only cover it.
For me, I turned to food and hyper-productivity to fill the void that had grown inside me. I tried to do everything possible to fill my life with noise so I didn’t have any quiet moments at all. I was afraid of silence and stillness in my life because it made me dwell heavily on the fact that I was running away from my problems. Ultimately, the problem was that I had a God-shaped hole that I was trying to fill with insufficient, temporary things. Being convicted of that, while painful to my ego, was the most-life changing encounter I have had with God in my life thus far. It was a humbling experience that revealed a lot about myself and where God has been moving in my life.
For the longest time, I struggled with its absence. I cried over it for many months following. Knowing that I was being obedient to God, I tried to trudge on, relying on my close friends and the Lord – and it was a long time coming. With many struggles along the way, I came to realize that I had funneled all of my energies into this one sport. The problem wasn’t that I played the sport, but rather, it became the rock that my heavenly father was supposed to be. God challenged me to give up the boulder that I put before Him, to make room for Him. The rock was large enough to distract me from the hole that was already there, but not enough to fill it. It could never fill the God-shaped void that was in my life. But surrendering that to the Lord allowed Him to reveal Himself to me in ways that I could not have even imagined. He defied and is continually defying my expectations everyday.
When I came to Greenville University, I thought I had everything figured out. I was going to dive into graphic design, become a professional soccer player and I would make a good life for myself. Just when I thought I had everything under control and everything was going to plan, God turned my world upside down and defied all my expectations. With the combination of some bad situations and the building of some new relationships, I was led to make the most difficult decision of my life – and thus, I chose to surrender my childhood dream of playing soccer to God. A sport I had played for 17 years, a constant that had been my rock for so long was now gone, just like that.
God is always with us, ready to fill our voids. We just need to be listening for that quiet knocking and be willing to open up the door for Him. If we let Him in, He will move in massive ways.