“…that ye might be filled with the fulness of God.” (Eph.3:19b)
We hear people talk about “finding fulfillment in life,” as if it were some elusive, personal goal that can only be achieved in one way. I think the whole concept stems from the fact that we’re obsessed with feeling good about ourselves. It’s a good thing to want to be our best, if we’re using God’s standard; but if our goals change with every new “be-the-best-that-you-can-be” book that comes out, fulfillment will always be an elusive dream. Let’s examine the concept itself.
Fulfillment indicates a prior emptiness, since one can only fill what is empty. So, in my own case, if I want to start on this lofty journey toward fulfillment, I must be ready to admit that my life now is empty. And I’m not ready to do that. My pockets, my “nest,” and (at times) my head, may be empty, but my life is—and will always be—as full as my heart! Full hands do not make a full life; sometimes it’s just a filled-up one. Nor do empty ones mean an empty life. If anything, I have found that (forced) physical constraint has translated into more agile and muscular mental pursuits. No, fulfillment is not the opposite of emptiness.
If, however, fulfillment is really purposefulness and meaning, I would point out that nothing has more meaning and purpose than obedience to God. We’re told in Ecclesiastes 12:13 that when all is said and done, our whole duty and purpose in life as Divinely created beings is to “fear God and keep his commandments.” When you and I have discovered our God-given talents and abilities and have accepted the place where He has planted us to use them, our search for purpose, meaning—and, yes, fulfillment—has ended. The next move is ours. We only have to follow Paul’s admonition in Colossians 4:17. “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.”
I fear we’ve gotten the handle wrong way round with this thing. Instead of seeking fulfillment, we should be seeking to fulfill…the will of God. Like the Persian farmer in Russell Conwell’s story “Acres of Diamonds,” who left his beautiful farm to look for mythical diamonds, never realizing there were acres of them on his own land, you and I may find that our fulfillment is not to be found over the horizon, but in our backyards. Often the duty closest at hand is the one closest to the will of God. And the most humble opportunity can be an opportunity for greatness…in the sight of God (Mark 14:3-9).
Being “filled with the fullness of God” doesn’t leave much room for fame, fortune, or just “feeling good about myself.” No vacancy! Actually, I’d say, “I’m ‘fulfilled’ to overflowing.”