Okay, so the last "me and my own thoughts" post was about what gets me excited. Now I just want to explore the idea of fulfillment. Namely because I've been feeling so fulfilled lately... with a job that I truly love, among people that are wonderful to work with, and kids who are so excited that I'm there (even though it's been three months) that I'm getting hugs at least once a day!
This is more than satisfaction or happiness; it goes deeper. This is more than just contentment; it inspires me to be and do more of what gives me the fulfillment.
So what is fulfillment?
Paid In Full—The debt of our sin, paid in full. The first syllable of
"fulfillment" is "ful." Just try saying those words out loud. What comes
to mind? I always think of those areas where I'm not living the "in
full" part: shortcomings, bad habits, neglect... What if I'm not doing
stuff, God? Is it true that if I don't take charge of my faith, then in a
few years (maybe even months) it will be as if I never heard the
Gospel, because I've backslidden so far? At what point, Lord, do You
throw in the holy towel and exclaim, "That's it! We're done; nothing's
happening with you, so go enjoy the rest of your life in mediocrity and
apathy—you may get to Heaven, but trust Me, I have plenty of other
people with whom I am looking forward to spending eternity—you can just
sit in your little corner of New Jerusalem by your apathetic self!" Or maybe... if I screw up too many times, does that mean I'm lukewarm? I don't want to be "spewed out" by God! What
more do I need to do to avoid this kind of response?
Jesus grins at me.
"Paid in full," He says.
"Yes, but now what? You've paid your part, what's mine?"
Again He reminds me, "Paid in full." There is emphasis in His words, but
no sign of irritation. It's as if He takes pleasure in letting me
ponder the significance of what He has done. He's excited to tell me,
"Paid... In... Full."
Just like that? Nothing else? It's not as if You just handled the blood
sacrifice part of it, and there's another part that's my responsibility,
and every time I screw up, it's because that part is not taken care
"Paid in full."
I still don't get it. Paid? Seriously? You paid, Jesus? And not just one
aspect of it—the FULL? You didn't just die for my sins and my
salvation, You sacrificed every last thing for my mistakes and my
presumptions, my good intentions and my habits. Before You paid, all of
these were bad; they were self-centered, willful, and completely
inadequate. Once my debt was paid in full by Your mercy, You had the
capacity to completely change everything about me. Not just giving me
the power to be who You want me to be, but You see me differently. You
see Your payment, and regard the debt as full.
Fulfilled—Fully Filled, as in God, knowing us fully, knowing me fully,
filled His response with love and gave of His fullness to fill us fully.
He spared no expense, not even the greatest price ever paid. God went
"all out" in the pursuit of a species who were "yet sinners." Is it too
much to ask those who acknowledge and accept this to respond likewise in
all-out worship of Him?
What does a fulfilled Christian look like? Are there any needs that
cannot be met? Any holes or voids that cannot be filled? The very word
"fulfilled" is made of "full" and "filled." It's more than "full," which
implies that there isn't any more being added. It's more than just
"filled," which by itself is only just beyond empty.
The Bible speaks of blessing being "shaken" and "pressed down", yet
still "overflowing." God doesn't just fill us so that we are no longer
empty. He fills to the brim.... Then He shakes it down, and fills sone
more... Then He presses and packs, then fills some more... Then He piles
it on till overflowing! Fulfilled is so jam-packed with God and His
power and glory that there is not even one micron of room to think of
Fulfillment—the feeling of being filled with the fullness of God. A
fullness so inexorably beyond our own capacity that it's like filling a
thimble with a gallon jug. The water spills out of the thimble in a
widening pool that spreads over everything, but there is still more
water in the jug. Compared to the thimble, the gallon jug would indeed
seem limitless. The more that is poured in, the more spills out. And
yet, with all the amount that spills, the thimble is just as full as
This is a picture of fulfillment. It is more than just satisfaction.
Satisfaction fills the thimble and walks away. Once satisfaction is
gone, it is not replenished. We are left with "gruntwork", the
tediousness and annoyance of tasks which no longer satisfies us. Or
maybe our need for satisfaction will exceed that little thimble. But how
can we make up the difference if we have no more satisfaction? The
longer we work for satisfaction, the less satisfaction is available to
Fulfillment goes beyond this. No task is too tedious; no challenge too
difficult; the longer we work toward the fulfillment that fills us up
and overflows to others, the further it will spread to those around us.
The work of fulfillment is not for ourselves alone. It keeps on
spreading out to others. That is the difference between mere
satisfaction and fulfillment: one is focused on ourselves; the other
turns our focus to others.
Satisfaction runs out, it's temporary. Fulfillment is a perpetual motion machine. Either you are continuously motivated to do the thing that brings fulfillment and it spreads benefit AND satisfaction around, or within that activity, you find something just a little bit different but very much the same that provides a whole new store of fulfillment. Satisfaction satisfies our fleeting wants and whims; if the pleasure does not exceed the effort, it no longer satisfies. Fulfillment satisfies our core needs; the pleasure is derived from and proportional to the effort, so that the more effort we put into that activity that fulfills us, the more pleasure we get from seeing the pleasure it brings others, and very often we actually end up enjoying the work it takes to receive the pleasure from the things that fulfill us.
FULFILLMENT: God in His FULlness, sent Jesus to bear the justice destined for us, and Jesus' sacrifice paved the way for His Holy Spirit to FILL us as we were MEaNT to be filled--but not just filled....