There is a hole inside of you

Dr. Craig Barnes, Wake Forest University

There is a hole inside of you.

It has been there for a long time, but by the time you graduate from college, you are acutely aware of this thing in your life that is missing. I don’t know what that is.  It may involve a relationship, it may involve something regarding your health, or something troubling in your past. Trust me it does not matter how many degrees you get, you are never going to have a better past.

Or, maybe the hole in your life is a dream that just seems to keep alluding you. It’s not the same thing for all of us. The only thing that’s the same is that we are all missing something.  Trust me on this, your future success depends completely on how you handle this hole in your life. 

If you are a person of prayer, you’ve been drawn to passages in the bible that say things like ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.  And over the years there has been a lot of asking and seeking and knocking on the door, but still the hole in you perseveres.  At times the yearning is intense if you allow it, it will take over your life with insatiable appetite.

Those of us who hang around churches, pretended to think that such persistent yearning is the result of living in a world that long ago fell from paradise. But I’m not so sure.  We have only a very few pages of the bible that describe what God had in mind from the beginning.  And then we messed that up. And the entire rest of the book is about the Recovery Plan, actually.

So these opening pages from Genesis are extremely important to us describing what the Creator had in mind. And isn’t it fascinating that we were placed in this garden, we were told that we can freely eat almost all of the fruit of it, all this fruit around us, which was given by God, and to take of the fruit of the garden was an act of doxology giving praise to God, from whom all of these blessings that have come to us.

Except for one fruit, that was not given, not blessed for us.  Which means that by God’s created design, something is supposed to be missing from your garden. And do you remember where God placed this forbidden fruit? In the middle of the garden! Right here! Not off in some corner where it can be easily ignored.  This had to have driven Adam and Eve nuts.  Every day they walked by this thing and were reminded that they were never supposed to have the whole garden.

You cannot have it all. And now again, this is not punishment. This is before the fall. This is God’s idea of paradise. A good creation. Where you are not completely whole.  Only Gods are whole, lacking in nothing.

This drives us nuts.  There can be 999 good trees in your garden that you can freely go to and receive God’s blessings for your life but where do we always pitch our tent? Underneath this one thing we don’t have.  We think about it all the time.  We obsess over it and let the rest of the garden go to weed.  What am I going to do about this thing that I don’t have?  And so we are tempted to reach for more than we were created to have.

As the story goes, when we reach beyond our limits, that’s when we lose paradise. And on the way out, we start to think, you know, it was a pretty good garden after all.

Only now it is paradise lost.

~ The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes, President and Professor of pastoral ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. An excerpt from his sermon on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at the Baccalaureate at Wake Forest University


  1. Talk about a thought-provoking post! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, THAT is certainly something to chew on, pal!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm…the longer I live, the smaller that hole seems to be and so much less important. But that’s just me. :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Quite a powerful speech. I’d love to read it all. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A wise man with a powerful message. That one forbidden tree…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. can we learn to be happy for what we are and not what we are missing?

    Liked by 1 person

    Goes to prove my theory that the greatest comedians are the most intelligent of all.
    Man oh man!!!!
    Even God wouldn’t know what to do with this man. Hhhmmm don’t know if he is praising him, or the exact opposite!
    God might actually let him have it, that missing thing. He earned it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Or… Genesis is Man’s story about God the Masochist.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wise sage! The problem with society is it continually tells us “You can have it all”! Hence we continue to live with a hole. 😬

    Liked by 2 people

  11. L.O.V.E this David – thanks for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. wow. How utterly true.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on talktodiana and commented:
    When you are grateful for what you have. When it is enough. Then you are rich, no matter how little you have. That’s what came to mind when I read the post David shared yesterday…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Interesting speech …
    My take is a bit simpler.
    Life creates the hole.
    The rest of our journey is to realize it can only be filled from the inside out.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am in two minds about this post. I agree that being contended with what we have leads to a rich life. However, I also think that continual striving towards something better (including being better within ourselves) can also lead to a more fulfilled life.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am with Sandy Sue– it sounds like one big joke on God’s part. Maybe it’s not so much learning to live with the hole; maybe it’s learning to laugh at ourselves for trying to fill it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. oldpoet56 says:

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