I have to confess that I’m a Taco Bell addict. I have no problem passing up most other fast food places without a second thought, but Taco Bell is my weakness! It’s a habit I’ve really tried to cut down on because even though I like it, I know it’s not good for me. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” A person who eats a lot of fruits and vegetables is going to be healthier than a person who only eats junk food. Have you ever thought about soul junk food? Our souls require nourishment. We can fill them up in a number of ways, but not all of those ways are healthy. We need a healthy spiritual diet just as badly, if not more so, than we need a healthy physical diet.
What we fill ourselves up with is important. It may seem like anything that fills up our soul hunger is good because it accomplishes the same purpose. However, a person who eats a healthy dinner and a person who eats an unhealthy dinner are both going to be full afterwards, but only one of them is going to be better off because of what she ate. I’ve heard it said that we are all born with a God-shaped hole inside of us, and we all try to fill it. Some people turn to God, who fills the hole perfectly. Some people turn to other things that may fill up parts of the hole but can never take care of the whole thing. I always thought that phrase was just talking about how some people become Christians and some don’t, but lately, God has been showing me that it’s not just about that. Some Christians still choose not to fill their God-shaped holes with God.
Where do you find your satisfaction and wholeness? You can be a Christian who loves the Lord but still doesn’t fill up her soul with the right things. I know I’ve been there. There’s never been a time when I’ve walked away from my faith, but there have been times where I’ve been looking to all the wrong things to fill up the hunger in my soul even though God is right there with me. I’ve eaten my fair share of soul junk food, and it’s shown. My spiritual health declines. As I look to other things to bring me the things that only God can truly bring me, my soul gets lazy. I spend less time with God because I’m getting temporarily filled with other things. I don’t think I need him because something else is giving me what I think I need. Unfortunately, the satisfaction that comes from things other than God never lasts. It’s only temporary.
There are lots of things that we look to instead of God for our satisfaction and wholeness. Some people turn to harmful things like alcohol, drugs, abusive relationships, porn, and the list goes on. If you are caught in the trap of those things, let me encourage you that it is not too late, and you are not too far gone for Jesus to restore and redeem you! Turn to him entirely, and please seek the physical help you need, especially if you are in a dangerous situation. If you are not involved in things that are blatantly dangerous or wrong, don’t judge those who are. We all make mistakes. If you do an honest heart-check, I bet you can find at least one area in your life where you’re looking to something other than God to give you satisfaction. A problem for me when I was growing up (and that still likes to rear its ugly head every now in then) was gossip. I found my satisfaction in being the one who was “in the know” and had the dirt on anything and everything. Gossip may seem harmless at first, but truthfully, it’s just as bad as the obvious vices we just talked about.
However, it’s not just “bad” things that draw our attention away from God. Even things that are good and fun and enjoyable are still not God, and putting them in his place is wrong. I know that I have a tendency to find my satisfaction in relationships with people instead of God. When I feel like people disapprove of me or don’t like me, I am completely unsatisfied, and I do everything in my power to change their minds. When I feel like I’m loved and appreciated by other people, I feel satisfied. Having relationships with people is not wrong in and of itself, but it’s wrong when I make my relationships my source of satisfaction. If you can’t think of an area in your life where you’re having this problem, ask God to show you anything you might be missing.
So how do we know when we’re finding our satisfaction in God and when we’re not? Sometimes it’s hard to tell! There are a few “tests” you can do, though, to find out where your satisfaction is coming from.
First, ask God! Psalm 139 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible because it really shows how loved and wanted we are. It concludes with a prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (verses 23-24 ESV). Ask God to search you and help you identify areas where you’re not finding your satisfaction entirely in him.
Secondly, watch what you say. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (ESV). One way to figure out what’s in your heart is to listen to what you say. What’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth when someone makes you angry or frustrated? Is it one of the fruits of the spirit, or is it something hurtful?
Thirdly, evaluate your level of satisfaction. Is it fluctuating? Are you happy for a little while and then quickly need to search out another thing to provide satisfaction? If your level of satisfaction wavers, it is not coming from God. The satisfaction he provides is constant. The satisfaction other things provide is temporary. In Philippians 4, Paul talks about how he is able to be satisfied no matter what his life situation is because his satisfaction comes from God and not outside things. Whether his circumstances are great or terrible, he is satisfied in God.
Finding satisfaction in God looks different for everyone because everyone has different desires and needs, so I can’t give you a cut-and-dried way to do it. Once you identify places in your life where your satisfaction is coming from things that aren’t God, ask him to show you how to redirect your attention. He longs to be your satisfaction, and he’ll help you figure out how to get there. So make a resolution to cut out the spiritual junk food in your diet and trust in God to be your personal nutrition expert. He’ll help you figure out what to keep and what to let go of. He might ask you to let go of things that you’re clinging onto really tightly, and it might hurt to do so. Trust that he wouldn’t ask you to do it if it wasn’t going to be for your good.
Getting physically healthy takes a lot of work sometimes, and so does getting spiritually healthy. This process might be hard, but it will be worth it! The satisfaction God provides will never fail or run out. Rest assured that all the work you put in to become spiritually healthy is going to benefit you so much in the long run. God is right there waiting for you to turn to him, so don’t wait!