I remember being first saved. I remember the feeling of being unstoppable with God on my side. I remember the excitement to tell others about Him. The need to learn more and more about God and His many attributes. I remember the feeling so thankful for all He had sacrificed for me and for loving me right where I was. It seemed like the feeling would never die. But like wind against a mountain, mundane activities can slowly wear us down.
We don't have to live an unfulfilled life. We all have a God sized hole in our lives that can never be fulfilled by anything other than God. So why are so many Christians living an unfulfilled life, when they have God? There are many reasons that someone might be living an unfulfilled life, the reasons I am going to address are sin, unmet expectations, fear, self pity, laziness, pride, a sense of entitlement, and the boxes we try to place God in.
Sin can and will cause a drift between you and God. It separates us and keeps us from hearing what God is telling us to do. Choosing to live in sin slowly decays us and desensitizes us. As I watched The Godfather for the first time I was shocked at the violence and language, which all seemed to stick out substantially to me. Each time I watched it again I began to notice the violence and language less and less, because I was becoming less sensitive to it. In the same way sin can slowly seem acceptable or at least not stand out as being quite so unacceptable.
Several years ago when I was in marriage counseling, the counselor had mentioned that the majority of times anger and sadness stem from unmet expectations. When I had become a Christian I had thought that life would be easier. I didn't think that everything would be perfect, but I in now way thought that I would be facing all the struggles that I had. I expected to no longer struggle with my flesh and sins. Another expectation that went unmet was the expectations I placed on other Christians. I expected others to be open and honest about their struggles. I expected others to be mature, loving, and non-hyprocritical. It took a long time to learn that I need to have grace and love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. We also don't see or understand the spiritual war that is going on around us. If we do not expect to be in a war, then we will not wear our armor to protect ourselves.
When I speak of fear I don't mean the fear of spiders or escalators, even though both can be terrifying for some. I speak of the fear of rejection if we tell others. The fear that our needs wont be provided for. The fear that we are not equipped or good enough for what God tells us to do. I have been struggling with this. I know that I am in God's will by staying home with my daughters, but the fear of our financial situation often leads me to consider going back to work. Fear is often where my head and heart don't agree. I know that God can, will, and has been providing but I fear that we wont be able to pay the bills and will be out of some basic needs. I often think that I need to step in and do God's job. I face this also with the well being of my children. I know that God can and will care for them, yet I still have growing concern for their health. Having faith is not always an automatic thing, sometimes I have to make the choice to believe and have faith even when it is hard. Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Self-pity can be like a slippery slope, once we decide to step onto it we can begin to slip further and further down and it can be difficult to get our footing. Sometimes we can confuse this with expressing our concerns to God or with venting with others, but the difference can be found in the attitude of the heart. It is acceptable for us to voice our concerns to God and to each other. God already knows our thoughts, so being honest can only open communication and soften our hearts to allow God to change us. Who am I to say that I have been persecuted, when there are people in other countries that are killed and tortured for believing in Jesus? Who am I to say that I am poor, when there are people in other countries that eat mud patties? Who am I to say that I am ill, when there are people in other countries who are dying at such young ages? God does care about all of our concerns but I should not live in self-pity and withhold the glory from God. God has been convicting me of this in regards to my home life. I often will have self-pity and make myself a martyr for all the work I do around the house. I have been praying, before I clean, that I may have a heart to serve my family and to glorify God in all I do, even in the laundry. I have found that, even though I still struggle, God does help me with my attitude and often I don't feel overwhelmed with it all. 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Even though we are blessed to live in a democracy that believes in giving people rights, it can also be a hindrance. We are raised with this false sense of entitlement. I have the right to have nice stuff. I have the right to have a spouse that treats me right. I have the right to hold a grudge. When we become a Christian we give our rights to God and let Him guide and lead us. We are to take up our crosses. We are to forgive others, give to the needy, place others above ourself, and become Christ-like.
When we put God in a box, we are not able to fully see His great power. Why should the God of the universe live according to human standards? Through seeing and embracing Gods awesome power we are able to worship and glorify Him more. We are able to live a life of victory and not defeat. We don't have to live by the constrains of this world because our God is bigger than this world. John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
So how can we go from living the unfulfilled Christian life to a fulfilled one? First, we must be honest with ourselves and God. We must ask Him to help us with our attitudes and with the things that are playing factors into our being unfulfilled. Second, we must worship with a heart of thanksgiving. I love the expression "fake it till you make it." By writing or keeping a list of so much that we are thankful for we can refer back to it to thank God. Praise Him for who He is. Third, memorize scripture. Write the word of God onto your heart so that you may be able to call upon it when you are struggling. Forth, surround yourself with fellow believers. When your light grows dim stand close to other believer's light so that yours may become brighter. Finally, set aside the time to spend with God. Only God can fill that whole and repair the damages done through other efforts.