Often we try to satisfy our longing for God with substitutes. These substitutes range from overeating and excessive drinking (especially at Christmastime) to a drive for success, compulsive work habits to make money and constant religious activities . . . the list is never-ending.
There is nothing wrong with these activities when they find their proper place in our lives. However, when they take over our lives, we end up in an empty place.
These things simply cannot fulfill those eternal longings that God has placed in our hearts. You know this and I know this. This is why it becomes essential for us to discern whether or not we have tried to replace our longing for God with a hollow substitute of one kind or another.
An effective way for us to answer this question is to spend some time this December reflecting honestly on our cravings and desires: Is there anything on which we have become hooked? What things in our lives have become compulsive, causing us to lose a sense of personal freedom? What most affects our mood and sense of well-being? Our response to these questions could give us a clue to those empty substitutes that rob us of a closer walk with God.
In the silence today, ask the Lord to reveal to you how you try to fulfill your longing for God with lesser substitutes. Give yourself some moments of silence. Speak with the Lord about whatever comes to mind. Listen to what He is saying to you.
Always remember that the more we are able to detect the presence of hollow substitutes, the more we are able to get in touch with our deepest longings.