How would you answer this question: “If I only had ______________, then I’d be ‘good’ – that is, significant, secure, and soul-serene”? Remember to provide an honest answer, not the one you think is right.
If you’re like most people (including me), you probably found that you could fill in that blank with a whole laundry list of things: money, health, power, peace with so-and-so, success, more friends, well-behaved children, better sleep, influence, respect, love, sex, time off, comfort, better grades, grandchildren, a better job, political stability, a spouse, a different spouse, a nicer car, house, lawn, wardrobe, hairdo, or smartphone, a promotion, etcetera.
It’s OK, of course, to want some of those things. But I’ve found that when I must have them, when I build my life around having them, and when my thoughts are captivated by them, then I become a slave to them! They become as gods to me. That is, I invest them with expectations that can only be met by God.
Do I really have to tell myself and anybody else that this doesn’t work? If we’re honest, we’ll easily admit it. Every single one of the things I listed (and that you listed, probably) leaves us with a heart full of sawdust in the end. Oh, they may satisfy for a while. But in the end, they all leave us dry and dissatisfied and yearning for more.
How about this for a change: “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28)? Or, to use our fill-in-the-blank question, how about: “If only I had God, then I’d be ‘good’ – that is, significant, secure, and soul-serene”?
I’ve been pondering this a lot lately because my longings have become inflamed. The political debates have inflamed my yearning for righteous leadership and political stability. The Planned Parenthood videos have inflamed my craving for justice and virtue. Brokenness in some of my relationships has inflamed my thirst for relational peace and healing. My aging body has inflamed my desire for health and strength. Terrorism, violence, and the general mayhem of the world has inflamed my ache for peace.
What about you?
As a Christian, the Bible tells me that many human longings are legitimate. It also tells me that the deepest longings of my soul, the longings for significance, relational security, and soul-serenity, depend upon one thing only: intimacy with God. It tells me that through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, I can, indeed, experience God’s nearness as my good through ongoing relationship with Him.
Are you like me – wrestling with inflamed longings? Are you like me – trying to plug those longings with something or someone other than God? If you are, then let’s together seek the only One who can give us what we truly seek and enable us to happily say, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”