The Hole

by Andy Wood on January 26, 2010

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom

Our granddaughter, Laura Kate, with Elmo’s help, is learning about holes.  The square hole, the round hole.  The star-shaped hole, the rectangle hole.  She’s learning to put the square piece in the square hole, and Elmo tells her how awesome she is. 

At 20 months, that’s pretty good.  Before long, she will graduate from Elmo and his octogons  and stars.  And she will discover new holes to fill.  Deeper holes.  One downright abyss.  And many more complex shapes.

Who Said That?

There’s this quote that’s been ascribed to all kinds of people over the years.  I’ve heard that Billy Graham said it.  Then Augustine.  Or maybe C. S. Lewis.  But most popularly, Blaise Pascal.  The quote reads,

“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.”

Problem is, Pascal never said it.  Or wrote it.  And nobody seems to know who did.  Sigh… I guess I’ll just have to settle this.  I said it.

Seriously, here is what Pascal did say:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” (emphasis mine).

This is no vacuum.  It’s an infinite abyss.

Another Look at the Holes

Millions of people through the generations have found in Jesus Christ the answer to the “infinite and immutable object” we need to fill the infinite abyss in our spirits.  By trusting our lives and death to the message of the gospel, we have come to a place of peace with God.

Financial peace?  That’s another matter, Dave.

Peace with our spouses?  Uh, no.

Peace with our dreams and sense of significance?  Another hole.

There is another side to the gospel that often goes misunderstood in Church World, except in platitudes and simplistic sermonettes that reduce it all to “whatever you’re lookin’ for, the answer’s Jeeeeezus.”  To understand the other side, you have to understand the holes.

Back in the Garden

When humans were created, three things characterized our lives:

  • The unhindered presence of God.  We found acceptance in the exchange of love and intimacy with our Creator.
  • Absolute dominion over all the earth.  We found significance in the fact that we were created for a purpose.
  • Complete transparency.  “Naked and unashamed,” we found security in giving and receiving love without fear or shame.

After the Fall, the human race was subjected to three incomprehensible, devastating consequences – three “holes” that haunt us throughout our lifetimes, if we let them:

  • Pain.  Adam and Eve were rejected by God and introduced to physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. 
  • Poverty.  Adam was sent into a world he was not made to survive in, dependent only on his ability to provide for himself. 
  • Shame.  Their first “act of knowledge” was to hide – to cover up.  We’ve been doing that ever since.

Would it surprise you to know that the world has come up with answers to its own trouble?  For pain, the solution is the pursuit of pleasure.  For poverty, the world responds with a materialistic “lust of the eyes.”  The answer to shame is pride – the relentless attempt to be adored.

The Shape of Your Hole

Imagine an entire world of people, hopelessly caught on treadmill-type cycles of pleasure-pain, poverty-prosperity, and shame-pride.  Jesus Christ came not just to fill the abyss, but to break those futile cycles.  But often in our brokenness, hurts, and deception, even Christ followers fail to recognize when we’ve returned to those destructive cycles.

And so we try to fill the holes.  And they’re anything but Christ-shaped.

I know somebody who was raised in real-deal poverty.  And in spite of the fact that he earns a very nice living, he lives with a poverty mentality to this day – constantly in fear of what could happen in the economy or the administration or the global markets.  He has a money-shaped hole in his heart.

I know a single woman who has defined herself by her ability to remain in a relationship with a man.  Any man.  At any cost.  She has a man-shaped hole in her heart.

I know a man who loves to be loved.  But he has been betrayed and humiliated on more than one occasion.  In his insecurity, he isolates from others – hiding his true self because of a fear of rejection.  He has a security-shaped hole in his heart.

Holes, Elmo, come in a myriad of shapes and sizes.  And here’s what we all desperately need to know:

Jesus didn’t just come to fill up the abyss that was shaped like Him.  He came as well to fill the holes formed and shaped by our own brokenness.

See, here’s the problem with your money-shaped hole:  There will never be enough money to fill it. 

That woman-shaped hole?  No woman alive can fill that.

Until you and I learn to find in Him the answers to our significance, security, and acceptance, the brokenness-dug holes in our hearts will keep us broken.  And for people on their way to heaven, that’s a pretty pathetic place to be.

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