Emptiness, Ecstasy, Hope
In this life, my soul has never been completely satisfied. Often I feel empty inside. I’ve typically dealt with this in one of two ways: 1) distract myself with pleasure (license) or 2) try to discipline the unsatisfied desire to death (law).
Recently, however, I think God taught me something. The desire is real and legitimate. But it can’t be met by illegitimate means (worldly pleasure), yet it can’t be removed either (through discipline or asceticism or lobotomy). Instead, it’s to be directed heavenward. And God taught me a prayer to express this:
“My soul thirst for God, for the living God, when shall I go and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:2).
This has been helpful in two ways. Once, while I was feeling dissatisfied with life, I prayed this and was met with fairly strong internal joy. It’s my guess that was a small version of what some Christians have called “ecstatic experiences, visions or swoons.” This only happened the once, but I’ve only tried a few times. The other times, I prayed this only briefly and did not feel any ecstasy, but it was helpful nevertheless because it was comforting to be able to properly identify my experience. My heartfelt desires aren’t just my Mr. Jekyll trying to get out, but I also have a soul that thirsts for God, and on this side of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that desire will never be fully satisfied. But my faith tells me that there is a time when it will be, and properly understanding my unsatiated desire helps me direct my energy toward the trek toward Home.