Life. Day 47 of Lent. How to feel alive.
Life. It’s really what it’s all about. Being alive. Feeling alive.
We know death when we see it. Simply it’s the absence of life.
And it makes most oddly uncomfortable.
If you are ever alone and just stop to sit still and be, instead of do,
usually an unsettling awareness begins to form.
It usually gets most people up and moving quickly, because its uncomfortable that feeling, of being aware of who we really are authentically, of being who we are instead of doing something to feel like somebody.
The problem is shame, that dawning awareness that something is wrong with me.
Man’s solution since the fall is to engage our ‘knowledge of good and evil’ to fix this uncomfortable feeling. We don’t like the growing awareness that something is wrong with us so fix #1 is to convince ourselves its not us but someone/something else who has made us feel this way. Get rid of that someone/something and wa-lah problem solved. But it’s not…
Fix # 2, we hide. We cover up this awful awareness. We add on personality to mask the shame. By the time we are teenagers we’ve developed a distinct pattern of coping with this feeling. We are a personality type– each one of us. Hiding is the beginning of the ability to lie to ourselves and believe we can fix the problem our self and so we arm our self with ego and put on the mask of ‘its all good’.
Fix #3, we work to fix it. To relieve the sensation and hide the truth that something is wrong with us, we set about fixing everything and everyone except the condition worsens, the defenses strengthen, the lie grows stronger and the emptiness grows deeper because fixing it is really just arm wrestling with ourselves. We can’t fix it.
Fix #4, we fill it. To fix this feeling of emptiness because we still believe the lie since we mask the shame, we stuff things into our life to make us ‘feel better’. We find hobbies and habits. We eat and smoke and drink. We enjoy shopping and sex and other temporary pleasures. We seek after power and prosperity. We rule and we control and we get really good at it. But we never can quite fill our own emptiness. Because built into this emptiness is a ‘way of knowing’ that makes it very unlikely we will even see our problem, much less agree that the problem exists.
The things that people do that we think of as sinful are a result of this emptiness that can not be filled. No one likes to feel empty.
We all want to feel alive.
We ache, deep, deep down under the false filling and the fixing and the armor of our personality, in the soul we ache to feel alive. This is the problem with the human race, its not just bad behavior we traditionally have called sin, the problem with the human race is emptiness because we are separated from God. We are empty of the thing that makes us most who we are and make us feel fully alive. We are empty, dead inside and it drives us all towards something, anything that will soothe the uncomfortable awareness that something is not right.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” Augustine once determined.
And there comes a moment for each of us too, when we realize even though we are faking it and fixing it to feel alive, we are really dead inside. This is why our quest to feel alive is so intense.
Who wants to feel dead? No one wants to feel dead.
And it is this death in me that makes it so uncomfortable, even painful, for me to be alone with me, to just be instead of do.
Jesus died to exchange the life in Him for the death in me.
Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
When people talk with words like redemption and salvation and being saved they are speaking about this exchange. Death for life. Our death for His life, His death so that we can be alive.
Jesus came to offer you this great exchange. To die to forgive me for who I am, not just what I have done. Jesus death and resurrection sets me free from who I have become- the fixer and filler and faker hiding from my awareness of the dead emptiness inside of me.
Jesus opens the door to make a connection again to the source of life. Christ says I can be born again. And I must be if I want to live.
I want to live. I want to feel alive.
If you ache to fill that emptiness then tell God, your source of life, the cry of your heart. Receive the free gift of eternal life by faith, trusting in the finished work of Christ death on the cross for you, where He exchanged your sins for His righteousness. Jesus called that being born again. Born again, I am born from the breath of my Father God and not the womb of my mother. This is a spiritual birth and I am reconnected to the source of Life. Born again we are spiritual men and women again, with the Holy Spirit deposited into our very being.
We are alive!
“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37
The word “innermost being” is the Greek koilos, meaning hole or empty place. It is often translated belly or womb. In Jn 7, Jesus is describing a spiritual empty place in the heart of man, not a physical belly or womb. This empty place is the source of thirst and the divine solution to this hunger/thirst is to fill it with living water from the Holy Spirit.
Born again, we are filled with the Spirit of God. Filled we can overflow with this aliveness and influence others with the love and power of God.
Today, maybe you are a Christian and you still feel that aching emptiness. Maybe you’ve agreed with the faking, filling and fixing that goes on as we try to ‘feel alive’ apart from God in the ‘old man’ style of self-sufficiency. Maybe you’re still uncomfortable being and only comfortable doing. May I suggest you stop fixating on the outward behaviors of your life and fix your focus on Jesus Himself.
Abide with Christ. And let Him fan into flame that passionate animation of abundant life connected to Him. Abiding allows the Spirit of God to fill us and fulfill us as we find passion and purpose living as we were made to be. Abiding with Christ we are aware of grace instead of shame. We find love and we realize we are loved exactly as we are as God continues to transform us into what He was ordained for us to be.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13