After a meeting among camp volunteers, a pastor and I ended up in Waterbury’s decaying mall for lunch. Approaching the late afternoon—that time of day when it’s far too late for a late lunch and far too early for an early dinner—we decided on a Japanese restaurant in the food court. A mere fifteen minutes and two cartons of sticky white rice later, the pastor exclaimed, “that hit the spot!”
Somehow, I made it 16 years without hearing this phrase; and, it was odd enough for me to remember even today. Very rarely do we have the capacity to recall the exact time and circumstance in which we’ve learned a word or phrase. But, I’ll indefinitely remember how I learned “that hit the spot!” because it brought new language to an array of sensations that I frequently experience.
Nothing quite hits the spot like mediocre Japanese food at the time of day in which it’s far too late for a late lunch and far too early for an early dinner. Nothing hits the spot like “Oceans,” on a Sunday morning when the Holy Spirit is moving. Nothing hits the spot like gazing at the skyline at the harborside with family nearby.
And yet, nothing hits the spot for long. Everything—all our faculties, everything inside of us—are surrendered to the pursuit of that which crumbles easily. We hunger once more; the Spirit leaves the room; loneliness prevails. Nothing hits the spot.
Whether we’re pursuant of the sensation of God’s presence in contemporary worship services or we’re escaping the uneasiness experienced in everyday life by overconsuming questionable substances, all of us will eventually arrive at the inescapable conclusion that nothing satisfies us.
Our species is chasing something indescribable. Evangelicals occasionally preach to their congregations that there is a God-sized hole in the heart of every man. Nothing except God Himself can fill the hole inside of our hearts. This usually then leads to solicitations for congregants to accept Jesus into their hearts to fill said hole.
I theorize that hole is a void. After a while of stuffing God-stuff into the crater of my personhood, even He doesn’t seem to last. In all my Bible studying, speaking in tongues, and weekly fasts, nothing brings lasting fulfilment. All my religious rituals guised as disciplines bring the sensation of transformation—of personal renewal—but only for a moment.
Yet, in our pathetic pangs for meaning, our Creator holds us. While we strive for fulfillment and ultimately find none—not even in our search for God—the Creator cradles us. Our hearts are restless, and despite claims to the contrary, they continue their restless sojourn even after finding the affections of the Almighty.
While we struggle to maintain our relationship with God and His creation, we can rest in our frailty. We were never quite in control. In the moments when paradise seems lost and nothing seems to hit the spot for very long, let us recall that He is holding onto us with a violent grip; He will not leave us to the nothingness that encapsulates us.