Looking for God in All the Wrong Places
Early in my walk with Christ, I heard a prominent Christian speaker share that salvation is meant to allow Jesus to fill a hole in our heart left from the separation of the father through sin. The man went onto say that, “before Christ comes into our lives we will subconsciously try and fill that hole on our own.” However, he went onto say that because we don’t realize that hole is meant to be filled by Jesus we will instead fill that hole with either, “pleasure, pain or both.”
I thought back to the then recent memories of my life before Christ. Through the newly present guide of the Holy Spirit that now lived inside of me post salvation, I was guided through my own virtual tour of the pleasure and pain moments I tried to fill my hole with before I found Jesus at 29 years old.
The first thing I focused on was the trail of broken relationships I had been in as an adult. I sought the love of a women to fulfill my purpose in life. I believed that a woman’s love would be all that I needed to succeed and find joy in life. Instead, those relationships caused moments of fleeting happiness but more often caused frustration and led to giant seasons of heartache and depression.
The Holy Spirit pointed out that God’s love will always be more satisfying and fulfilling than the love of another. Even the greatest loves of family and spouses we could ever experience will be limited in the capacity of the love God has for me personally.
I realized that truth in the winter of 2012, when I dated a girl briefly after becoming born again. She was a nice enough girl. She was compassionate and a good listener. On the surface, it looked better than most of my relationships prior to Christ. However, I realized that my desire to pursue a relationship with her was lacking. Instead, every part of my heart was interested in pursuing a relationship with Jesus.
I finally knew of His love and the void it filled in my heart removed my own efforts to fill that hole with the love of another person. The love of God completed my heart and showed me how I needed to love others, including any romantic relationship, with the same desire to love them back. I knew that romantic love shouldn’t be used as another filler for the heart hole. So, I ended that blossoming relationship to go steady with Jesus for a bit.
Less than a year later, God introduced me to Megan. She was the first romantic relationship of reciprocal love besides Christ I have ever been in. In my old life, I would love a woman who wouldn’t love me back equally or I would be loved by a girl who I did not share the same feelings for. The difference in Megan and myself was that we both had a love for Christ that filled our heart holes before we met each other. Knowing the love that God had for each of us individually allowed each of us to love one another better.
A common destination for my travels during my addiction was a casino in Tunica, MS called the Gold Strike. In the early 2000s, I had signed a list prohibiting my entrance in Missouri casinos as a method of curbing my gambling addiction. However, I found that I could easily drive to casinos a few hours or more from my house on the weekends to feed my addiction.
These types of trips were frequent. If I had money and time and sometimes just one of those things I would get in the car and go. I would borrow money to play or call into work while I was there to keep going. For more than ten years, my addiction motivated almost every choice I made. Most of those choices led to painful consequences.
On one trip back from Tunica, I had just lost my rent money along with the rent money that had been given to me by my roommates. One of those roommates had been my best friend for a number of years. We later had a falling out that stemmed from my addiction led choices. We no longer speak to one another. It’s a tender subject to me still to this day. I wish I could repair and restore what was broken. That pain was caused by my desire to fill a hole in my heart I didn’t know I was there.
On another trip, I again lost everything. I didn’t even have enough gas money for the hundreds of miles journey back home. I stopped many times along the way looking for gas stations that would accept checks. I wrote several checks that I knew I had no money to cover and would continue to bounce around between their accounts and mine for the following weeks until my next paycheck was deposited.
Why would I do that to myself? Why would I risk valuable friendship, extreme debt and family loss to gamble? Why would I continue to pursue a path that almost always led to destroying parts of life?
Because I was trying to fill a hole in my heart that was created to be filled by Jesus. Before Christ, I never even knew the hole existed. However, I was trying to fill it all the same. I have seen myself try to fill that hole with pleasure and pain time after time. Why would I keep doing those things? Because I was desperate to fill that hole I didn’t know I had.
If you find yourself making choices that cause pain or immoral pleasure, it’s evidence that Jesus probably hasn’t repaired the breach in your heart yet. Invite Christ into your heart, don’t continue down paths that lead to heartache and destruction. Find the path to Christ that leads to joy, peace and hope.
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