Heed the Warning of Spiritual Emptiness

The Holiness of the Here and Now – Part 22

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

–John 4:34 (ESV)

The will of God is the essence, reality, and virtue of all things. It adapts all things, and makes them fit for the soul. Without this will, everything is empty. There is only nothingness, deceit, and vanity, only spiritless letter and hollow shell, only death. The will of God is salvation and health, the life of the body and the soul, regardless of what outward appearance it may take at any given moment.

–Jean Pierre de Caussade

On the path of abandonment, you give up the right to choose your own food. Spiritually, your sustenance is the divine will. Any spiritual exercise, any reading, any work you do, benefits you only because the will of God chooses it for that purpose. If you insist on choosing for yourself, beware, for you are either presuming to know better than God, or wavering in your trust that he has a will of his own and is able to manifest it in your life.

As severe as that sounds, this is a subtle step to take, and we have all been guilty of it. So, what is the sign that you are heading down this path of self-reliance? Emptiness. It is as if you chose your meal, ate it, and went away hungrier than before. You sense the hollowness of going through the motions, and it is not the resistance of the flesh to the things of the Spirit. It is a spiritual emptiness. You can eat the meal with passion, go through the motions with vigor and energy, and it only serves to sharpen vanity’s sting. On the other hand, the simplest acts of devotion, done according to the will of God, will astound you with their power to inspire and energize.

This sense of spiritual fullness is hard to miss; the sense of emptiness is hard to forget. God is merciful to give us such clear warning signs when we stray from the path of abandonment, and such strong encouragement when we find it.

The Holiness of the Here and Now is a daily devotional that I am currently working on. When I am finished, there will be 365 chapters like the one above. Meanwhile, I am sharing this work-in-progress. Like the Facebook page to see content like this in your feed.