At Work & Public Square

Flourishing Begins with Filling the God-Shaped Hole in Your Heart

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I once heard a pastor say in his sermon, “Inside each of us is a God-shaped hole…a place inside of our hearts that only God can fill.”

This is not a new idea. In 398 AD, St. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, in which he writes:

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.

This hole in the heart of every man or woman is not a result of the Fall. It is a consequence of how God created us.

In a recent blog I suggested we are relational because God is relational.

Genesis 1:26 demonstrates this when it says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”  What it means to be made in God’s image is that we were made from the very beginning to be in relationship, and the most important relationship is with God.

This idea is at the very heart of the Gospel. The universe was created by a good and gracious heavenly father who filled it with good things to enjoy and moral laws by which to structure to our lives.

But the chief aim of life is neither to enjoy the good gifts, nor obey the laws, but to know and be known by our creator. This loving relationship between man and God is the way things are supposed to be. Our purpose, fulfillment, delight, and very life itself flow from this relationship.

Walking in the cool of the evening with God in his garden was something that Adam and Eve looked forward to each day as they returned from their work. But we read in Genesis 3:8-10 that one evening was very different.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Adam’s sin separated him from God, and he felt ashamed. As the apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The relationship between man and God was now irreparably broken. The hole in the heart, which had been filled by God himself, was now empty. This brokenness had far-reaching consequences that man alone could not repair.

The ramification of this first sin destroys not only our relationship with our heavenly father but also the relationships with ourselves, others, and the physical creation, making the biblical flourishing God intended for his creation impossible.

Yet, God was prepared to do what man could not. Paul writes in Romans 5:19 that,

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

God sent his only son to restore all the things broken by sin by first restoring the relationship between us and our heavenly father, for all those who would believe (John 3:16).

Christ repairs the ruin done by our first parents and repeated by all of us over and over. He fills the void in each of our hearts that was made to be filled only by God, allowing us to experience the abundant life both here and now and in the life to come (John 10:10).

In my next post we will look at how this restored relationship allows us to truly understand ourselves and what it is that God created us to do.

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