I have an admittedly weird habit. On those nights where I feel particularly lost or lonely (and often those two come as a pair), I get into my Jeep and drive around. I’m not driving to any place in particular. I just feel the need to get out of the house and drive. I’ve been doing it for years.
On those same nights, I also feel an incredible pull to be in the woods. (Come to think of it, perhaps the driving is the closest thing to being outdoors I can come up with in metro Atlanta.) I want to just keep driving until I reach the woods, get out of the car, hike to the top of a mountain, and watch the sun rise.
I never understood why I was like this, but last night it hit me. At my lowest points, I go out searching.
I’ve mentioned that I’m a Lego collector. That mentality of collecting bricks and putting them together is what comes into play on those nights. I honestly believe that if I go into the woods (or drive around empty streets), I’ll find the piece that pulls everything together. I believe that at the top of the mountain, hidden in that sunrise is an epiphany. That somehow I’ll stumble upon the one piece that will fix me… make me whole.
That’s just a fantasy, though. I’m not just missing one piece, I’m missing a bunch of them. Some of those pieces I had when I was younger, but they have since been broken off. And, others are pieces that I’ve never had, but would help to fill in my gaps. Regardless, they are not something to be stumbled across.
It turns out those nights have something else in common – they always show up after I’ve tried filling those gaps with something that didn’t work: friends, television, work, food, etc. It’s during those nights that the fact that I’m missing pieces becomes more obvious than usual.
In John 4, Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman who I imagine would go for drives at night if she could. Her life (along with her sins) have caused her to lose some of her pieces and to have missed some she should have gathered along the way.
You see, she’s at the well around noon (verse 6) because that’s well (get it) after the other women in the town would have collected their water. Tradition teaches that she went to the well at noon to avoid the rest of her community: whether that was her choice or theirs isn’t said. While that understanding of her plight is pretty clear, I think she also might have used that solitude the same way I do in the Jeep – to blindly search for missing pieces.
That is, until Jesus tells her this:
“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13,14
My analogy of missing pieces is parallel to Jesus’ thirst analogy. All those pieces that you try to use to fill the gaps will never fit. And, so, you will constantly be searching for new pieces and retrying old ones. Jesus is the only one who can truly complete you – you were designed that way.
Blaise Pascal said the following of this phenomenon:
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
Everything you try to fill that vacuum with will be unsatisfactory and ultimately cause you to thirst again. Food, sex, alcohol, approval, victory – they’ll always fade, which is why you always want more of them.
It’s time I stopped driving. It’s time I stopped trying pieces over and over that will never fit. It’s time I drank from the real fountain of life.