ISSUES OF FAITH: Filling a God-shaped hole

AT THE HEIGHT of my own personal freedom — attending a university, money in my pocket, virtually no adult supervision — I felt a longing and a loneliness that nagged at me kind of like a fly buzzing around my head.

Something was missing, but more importantly I asked myself: Is this all there is?

One morning I woke up (actually the tolling of the bells in the middle of campus woke me), and I had a plan.

That day I walked into the recruiter’s office in Bellevue, signed the necessary papers, and officially joined the U.S. Marines. It seemed like the right thing to do, and in retrospect, for me personally, it was.

Did that “nagging” go away afterwards? A little for sure, but still …

I say this because if you have ever said to yourself, in the quiet recesses of your mind or even spoken to another person, “Is this all there is?” then the Marines are looking for … no, no, just joking.

The filling of the hole in me was definitely God-shaped. It is as though God were asking me (and he may have been), “How long will you deny me? I created you. You will not find the answer in this world, but somewhere else.”

Most of us growing up don’t even know the question, much less the answer, but I can tell you — there is an answer.

It seems that so many of our dysfunctions and problems in this world can be attributed to a lack of faith in the God who created us and wants what is best for us. Realize that we are all created in the image of God; that he freely chose to create us, not out of boredom, but of love.

St. Francis de Sales, a 16th century Bishop of Geneva says this: “Have patience with all things, but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.”

This is not just a wonderfully positive message, it is something better — the truth.

The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) is awesomely instructive in our goal to be a better person, really the best person we can be.

The rich man (nameless, because he could be us) continually walks by and ignores this poor, wretched man Lazarus, and upon each of their deaths it is not a shock where each of their souls find their eternal home.

Jesus is telling us something here, as he does in all his awesome parables. Not only do we turn our heads and see what is around us, but do we do anything about it, those who would love any kind of hand?

These are not stories that we read and walk away from; one way to look at what BIBLE stands for is: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

It is Good Friday today, as Lent comes to a close.

How many more Lents will you and I have? How many more days, or weeks, or years before you put down your pencil for the final time?

The rich man had many regrets, perhaps the greatest of which is simply because he ignored Lazarus. God saw Lazarus’ heart, a humble heart, and welcomed him into the Kingdom. We all would do well to turn our head to the people in need.

In closing, when I welcomed Jesus into my life — no small thing, that — I noticed down the road a couple of years that my longing had disappeared.

It was simply gone.

We have a crisis in our community of drugs, suicide, certainly a feeling of loneliness, among all age groups.

Jesus stands waiting, arms wide, eyes upon you, heart bursting.

He will help, really because he knows you and is just waiting for an invitation. He is peace, and that is an awesome thing.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is [email protected]

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