“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” ― Blaise Pascal, Pensées
So much of life is about dealing with that vacuum—that hole. There’s a song we sing in worship once in awhile that says, “Stir up a hunger in my heart for more of You.” (Paul Baloche) I sometimes sing it with my fingers crossed, in a sense, because I know what stirring up that hunger really means—it means that I become aware of the vacuum. I must confess that I, like most people, have become skilled at anesthetizing myself from dealing with the ache that comes with that vacuum. So many of our modern conveniences are effective at this. I can turn it off by reading an entertaining book, watching television, playing a computer game, or going to sleep. I can feed the hunger albeit temporarily with real food—food that tastes amazing works best. Those things seem so much easier for pacifying the hunger.
The hard reality is that sometimes the ache to fill the God-shaped vacuum really is an ache, and one that isn’t always easy to resolve. I think sometimes this is what draws me to online connections like Facebook. We can find God through our interactions with other people, and Facebook is one place that can happen. This is also what can happen in small group Bible studies, and why I really miss being a part of one.
Worship is another place we get some salve for the ache, and fill up the vacuum a bit. The more this happens in worship, the more we are drawn to worship, and the more others are drawn to worship. We tend to seek formulas for making this happen, partly because we want so badly to make sure that it happens as much and as often as possible. If we are honest, if we haven’t entirely shut off our ability to sense the ache, we are desperate to meet God in worship.
When worship is effective, we are finding God through the message, the scriptures, the music, and whatever else is happening. It’s not the music or the message itself, per se, but that it is serving as an effective vehicle to point us to God, to encourage us to be willing to listen for, look for, and be open for the Holy Spirit to help us get a little bit of stuff to fill that vacuum.
Maybe the simple truth is that we do not have because we do not ask? (James 4:2) The song is asking the Holy Spirit to help us sense our hunger for God, our need to connect with God. We sometimes hear admonishments about not having prayers that are just laundry lists of requests, but Jesus tells us in his teaching about prayer that we are supposed to ask (Luke 11). It’s not asking that’s the problem. We just need to go a little deeper in what we’re asking for. What we all really want is stuff to fill the vacuum. So many things seem to fill it but really don’t. Sometimes the flesh intercedes and fools me into thinking the hunger is purely physical and can be met through purely physical means. The ache is never totally gone, the hunger is never totally satiated. There are definitely times when God is more present and the hunger is abated. I think that it will always return until we are finally with God forever.
The psalmist says “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) May your asking and receiving be delightful today.