"I am easily satisfied with the very best." -Churchill
What is it that we desire the most? What motivates your actions? Why do you get up in the morning?
Here in Grant, our coworkers come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Everyone here is looking for something, and many of them haven't discovered what that something is yet. Searches are conducted in overwork, hiking, camping, drinking, and several other avenues, but no one ever seems to find the something they're looking for. No one's really immune to the feelings of restlessness.
Over the past few years, as I look back on my choices, I see
three desires that occupied my thoughts and actions: I desired for being in a
healthy relationship, being successful at my work (at the time, good grades),
and for the respect and affirmation of the people around me. The difficulty
comes in realizing that these desires were never satisfied how I would have
liked them to be.
I've had a relationship I called healthy fall apart and leave me hurt, RPI is the fourth hardest college in the country (the reader can infer what that did to my grades), and in my pride, it never seems that I am "liked enough," or whatever that means when I get around to defining it. Evaluating my actions, there's always a tinge of "what will people think when they see this?" laced in between the lines. Even as I prepared this message for a service and this blog I can hear whispers encouraging me to use a different word to sound more eloquent or a particular verse so that I appear to be more knowledgeable about scripture. Maybe people will think I spend more time in the Word than I actually do.
The bottom line is that everything I do is motivated by some desire for something, and usually self-serving or misguided at best. Take these desires too far, and we approach something called idolatry. And yet, we are continually frustrated with the lack of satisfaction received from pursuing these desires. There seems to be no end to our struggles with temptations and even seemingly good desires that go unsatisfied.
Then Psalm 16 again comes to mind:
"You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup,
You maintain my lot,
the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places,
yes, I have a good inheritance."
"In Your presence is fullness of joy,
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 73, another of my favorites would state:
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
and there are none upon the earth I desire besides You.
My flesh and heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."
These two psalmists center on something that I do not. What would it look like for us to have a desire after God that goes beyond anything on this earth? Desires for healthy relationships, fruitful work, and supportive friendships are not bad in their own right, but become bad when we carry them into the throne room and begin to depend on them for our identity and esteem.
I enjoy being refreshed with the preaching of John Piper, and he released a sermon in the past few weeks studying 1 Peter, and focuses on the goodness of our inheritance. I've paraphrased his thinking on verses 3-5, which say:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Peter describes our inheritance, and we tend to gloss over how incredible it is. The words Peter uses highlight an inheritance far greater than anything we could possibly imagine or fathom. In particular, this inheritance is incorruptible: meaning that no amount of sin here on earth will ever taint our enjoyment of our inheritance in heaven. It is free of mold or tarnish, and is forever preserved there for us.
Secondly, it is undefiled. Our smartphones, clothing, and entertainment can come from exploited labor and enslaved people. Our laws and policies can originate in back rooms with shady bartering among politicians to buy votes and support. Our food (even the best) in great quantities is disastrous to our health and well-being. This inheritance, however, is none of the above. No amount of digging into its depths will ever reveal any corruption or exploitation in its origins. You can enjoy with a clean conscience.
Lastly, and most important, it is unfading. Heaven never gets old. This inheritance is never not new, and nothing can ever surpass its pleasure. We can freely enjoy it forever without worry of boredom or want for anything else.
Isn't that good? Don't miss on the magnitude of what this inheritance means! Our words fall short in describing the goodness of this gift, and our apathy endangers our ability to appreciate just how good it is. We spend our time filling our mouths and eyes with things made of dirt, and this priceless treasure is offered to us.
C.S. Lewis is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors, and he writes in Mere Christianity, "it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who goes on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Elsewhere: "If I find within myself desires that nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is I was made for another world."
Sometimes I think Christianity gets a bad rap as puritan and restrictive. Except Christianity isn't a list of rules restricting one's happiness; it's a set of directions pointing us toward a greater joy. We recognize that nothing here satisfies, but there is something that does. Secular hedonism is not the answer; Christian hedonism is.
When we constantly struggle with feeling unsatisfied, maybe we should look at where our desires are pointing us. Jesus promises us water that forever satisfies our thirst. The Psalmists have banked everything on God being their inheritance, and are clear in their language that their portion is nothing else. Maybe instead of running from our desires, we should redirect them to what they were for in the beginning. There we can deeply enjoy without guilt or shame, knowing that we are pleasing God as we enjoy the gifts He has granted in the way He intended.
And that's where I want to end this. I'm not talking about stuff. The streets are paved with gold because gold is worthless in heaven. What heaven contains is so much more valuable than simple possessions. You see, our inheritance is Christ Himself. We were made to be with Him and be content with Him, and yet we walked away to find quenching elsewhere. This man died so that we could be with Him forever, and He is an inheritance that, once granted, cannot ever be removed from us. He is our satisfaction, and nothing less will ever do.