Last night I was driving home from a long day at the church. I taught in a number of different environments to varying groups of people. Not only that, but I taught on a number of different subjects. Having spent time prepping to teach, then teaching, prepping again, then teaching again, I was spent. I was empty. It was 10:00 by the time I got to drive home to see my very-ready-to-have-a-baby wife.
I knew she had made dinner earlier, a tasty kale hash. You might be thinking I'm sarcastic. Kale and tasty should never go in the same sentence, like Miley Cyrus and modesty or turkey and bacon. But, because Stacy excels at pretty much everything in life, she finds a way to make healthy be scrumptious.
I was empty though. I was drained. And I was driving by McDonald's. What do I do??? I had a few bucks on me, which even in these days is like a King's Feast at McDonald's. Kale hash is good, but it ain't got no meat or special sauce or crack-like fries in it. The Golden Arches stood as a beacon of light in on a dark, foggy street and I was drawn.
I was empty. I was drained. I deserved that burger. I deserved those fries. I deserved the milkshake, the chicken sandwich, the nuggets, the wrap -- I deserved it all after such a long day, after spending myself in prepping and teaching. There's nothing wrong with that, right???
As I got closer this was running through my head. I just wanted to fill that emptiness with something that...
And that's when it hit me - I just wanted to fill the emptiness with something that in the end is just more emptiness.
I learned a huge lesson last night: When you're empty, you will want to fill yourself up. In a world that promises filling only to keep you empty, run toward that which will make you full.
This is more than food. This is the attraction of running after all the false promises of fulfillment. When you're empty, what do you think you deserve to have? Last night, for me, it was food, but it could be any number of things. It could be a drink or two or three or four; it could be an hour of TV or two or three or four; it could surfing the Internet an hour or two or three or four; it could be looking at a picture too long of a woman on Facebook, then more, then more; it could be blowing money you don't have, flirting with someone other than your spouse. Do you see it?
The point is that there's a slippery slope in our emptiness where many of the places we go to fill ourselves up just keep us empty. They may provide some sense of gratification in the moment, but they never really fill us up. I know this is a danger for many pastors, but applies to everyone. They teach and preach the Word regularly, emptying themselves for the sake of the gospel, only to succumb to the cheap pleasures of the world, sinning against a spouse or their congregation and often disqualifying themselves from ministry. Why? Because they would think they deserved just that drink that led to alcoholism, that picture that led to porn addiction, that friendship that led to adultery.
That place of emptiness is the place where you and I will always be most vulnerable because it's the place where you often don't feel anything and you just want to feel something, even if that's feeling numb.
So when you're empty, where do you run?
The kale hash was good.
By His Grace.