Seeking But Never Finding
By Don Umphrey
(scriptural citations from the NIV)
At some point in my early to mid-twenties, I gave some thoughts to my personal morality in terms of what might be acceptable or non-acceptable behavior. Listed as permissible were pornography, fornication and drunkenness.
On the other hand I listed two things that would never be permissible for me. By the time I went to that mental hospital at age 27, I had been involved with both of them.
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).
The author of the above passage, the Apostle Paul, described people without God in this way:
“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity...” (Ephesians 4:18-19).
The Bottomless Pit
There is a snow-balling of denial that leads a person to keep digging in a bottomless pit. The more I drank, used pornography, etc., the greater the emptiness, which in turn led to greater consumption of booze, and other means of trying to make myself feel good, ad nauseam .
A confessed sex addict described it this way:
“There was an incessant seeking for that elusive something more/something different that would—or so I felt certain—eventually provide me with that indefinable ‘it’ that would at long last satisfy the craving that burned within me. ‘It’ was always just out of sight and over the next hill and sure to be found on the next website or with the next affair.”1
Many deluded people never get off the treadmill of the search for the “indefinable it” but die trying.
Loss of Identity
Living the lie as an alcoholic in my mid-twenties, I was frightened by a view of myself in the mirror one Sunday afternoon. Looking at my reflection I asked myself, “Why am I me? Why aren’t I someone else?”
Then I started pondering the possibilities of people I knew and wondered why I wasn’t one of them.
In case you are wondering, at that time I was not under the immediate influence of any drug or alcohol.
Looking back, I can see that the questions about my identity were my mind's way of acknowledging--at least on some level--that I had lost my way in life and was detached from the truth.
Paul quoted Isaiah 40:13 when writing: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16). (The answer, of course, is no one.) Paul followed that profound question with this: “But we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16).
In God’s Image
So, who am I? The very foundation of that question for each of us goes back to the beginning: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
In order to be true to ourselves, we need to be as God-like as possible. As God in the flesh (John 1:1-3), Jesus is our exemplar.
Otherwise, we will seek counterfeits in vain attempts to fill the inner void.
Similarly, Paul wrote that as people who “contemplate the Lord’s glory” (we) “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is in the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As we seek Jesus in our lives, we come increasingly closer to perceiving the world with His absolute clarity.
Conversely, Paul wrote about the opposite perspective of those who continue in denial. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
If we stay in denial, Satan’s view of the world becomes increasingly more entrenched as “our truth.” In this manner, one’s entire life turns into an ongoing, self-perpetuating downhill journey to find something that does not exist.
This is accompanied by a loss of our identity of being made in the image of God.
© 2022 by Don Umphrey
Footnote 1. Steve Steele, (Editor) Sex Addiction in the Church, 12 Christian Men Share Their Stories of Recovery, Quarry Press, Dallas, TX, 2008, 73.
“New International Version” and “NIV” are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Used by permission.
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