The Answer to Emptiness

Posted in: Holy Spirit, 0659
By Dr. Larry Ollison

All through the early years of my life and ministry, I always felt like something was missing. No matter how much I would study the Word to prepare a lesson, no matter how many church services I attended or preached, it seemed as though I was not complete.

It was during this time of searching that I was asked to be the president of the men’s brotherhood fellowship at a local Baptist church. This church had a large congregation for a small rural town and the men’s group was very active. We met on Saturdays and it was the duty of the president to organize a testimony and a Scripture reading. For many decades, the tradition had been that the president would make the gravy that was served at the breakfast. These men loved to eat! Most of them, being farmers, were accustomed to a large country breakfast consisting of sausage, eggs, toast, coffee, biscuits and gravy.

I remember practicing and learning how to make the gravy. I had never been much of a cook growing up. Like most young men of the sixties, I was more interested in the Beatles and lava lamps. But being in this rural community, I did my best to fit in and bring to the men of the church a spiritual experience at the Saturday morning fellowship. My goal was to dig deeper into the Word and discover what it was I was missing. Even though I knew the Word and had a major in theology, there was still a hunger that had not been satisfied.

On one particular Saturday morning, I had been praying all the way to the church, “Lord, if there is something more, if there is something deeper, if there is something more spiritual, show me.” Upon arriving at the church, we had our typical Saturday morning meeting. We fixed breakfast and as the president, I made the gravy. We had our usual testimony and devotion, and then dismissed.

I had taught the devotional that day and even though I personally didn’t receive much from it, I was hoping and praying the men in attendance did. As we cleaned up the meeting room and I went outside to my car, I noticed three of the older men who had attended the breakfast were standing on the sidewalk talking. There is a way of knowing or sensing when people are talking about you and I had that feeling. As they saw me standing there, they slowly walked over to me, and as they were walking, I anticipated what they were going to say.

What I wanted to hear was that they had seen a great anointing upon me that day and I was hoping that possibly they would have a testimony about how my teaching had changed their lives.

When they approached, one of the men fixed a gaze on me and with a very serious look he began to speak. He said, “This church has been here a long time and I have attended the men’s fellowship meetings all of my life. In fact, Brother Wilcox has gone here all of his life and his daddy before him and we’ve come to this conclusion. Of all of the brotherhood presidents we have ever had in all the years that we can remember, you make the best gravy of any of them!”

I tried to smile, but my heart sank! I barely remember getting into the car. I don’t recommend this to anyone, but I threw my Bible across the car. If the window on the passenger side had been down, the Bible would have ended up on the sidewalk. I said, “God, if this is all there is to being a Christian—just getting saved and baptized and hanging on for the rest of your life trying to be good, then just take me home! If this is all there is, I’m done!”

Obviously, I was distraught and that was one of the low points in my spiritual life. But looking back on that day, I can understand the frustration in people’s hearts. When a Christian tells me they feel spiritually empty, I now have the answer: they must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Programs, church activities, social life, or the work of the ministry by itself will never fill the void that only the Holy Spirit can fill.

The people of Samaria experienced salvation, deliverance, and great joy, but they didn’t know that there was a greater power available. The apostles in Jerusalem knew it and through the laying on of hands, they imparted an additional power that was so visible that Simon the sorcerer offered to buy it (Acts 8:4-19).

It is possible to live your life as a Christian and never experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It could be because you’ve never been told about the Holy Spirit. Or it could be because you have been told and rejected the idea. Either way, the absence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit leaves an emptiness and a lack of fulfillment. Eternal life is wonderful, but eternal life with the Promise is better.

Devotion 0659