Sunday, August 2, 2015

Filling the Hole in Your Soul

Over twenty years ago, I lived next door to an older gentleman in his early fifties who had quite an interesting background. The gentleman was a corporate manager and his physical health was noticeably declining; in fact, he and his wife were already planning early retirement. Over the next several years as I got to know him better, my neighbor used to tell me about his life experiences, his career, and the material possessions he once had.

Just out of high school in the 1950s he joined the Air Force and learned to fly; after the Air Force he went to college, got married, had a son, worked his way up and down the corporate ladder, owed several businesses, lived all over the United States, bought and sold a dozen or more homes, and owned several airplanes, boats, automobiles, and sports cars. 

Surprisingly we stayed friends even after we both sold our homes and moved to different neighborhoods. And over the years I knew him, he kept trying to fill the hole in his soul with retirement, new hobbies, country club memberships, vacations, new houses, and sports cars. He even tried religion once but quickly lost his faith. The one thing in his life he loved most of all was his pet toy poodle who was his constant companion. And when that dog died he bought another just like it and gave it the same name. He was like a ship with a broken rudder tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves of life.  

I think my old friend epitomized what most people do in life to fill the hole in their souls as they look for happiness. They believe that if they went to college that would make them happy; 
if they had a better job that would make them happy; 
if they made more money that would make them happy;
if they got that promotion that would make them happy;
if they moved to a new city that would make them happy; 
if they got a new car that would make them happy;
if they got a new hobby that would make them happy;
if they had more friends that would make them happy; 
if they found a boyfriend or girlfriend that would make them happy; 
if they got married that would make them happy;
if they got a new house that would make them happy;  
if they had children that would make them happy; 
if they got a pet that would make them happy; 
if they went on an exotic vacation that would make them happy; 
if they accumulated more wealth that would make them happy;
if they won the lottery that would make them happy; 
if they retired early that would make them happy; 
if they. . . etcetera, etcetera.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that people are looking for happiness outside themselves rather than looking for happiness from within! The great prophet Moses, speaking to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:11-20, eloquently described how to fill the hole in our souls and find true and lasting happiness in life:
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. 
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors.

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