Monday, July 7, 2014

An Eternal Satisfaction

"A thread of eternity runs through everything..."
That may or may not be the exact quote from Gary Goodge in yesterday's morning worship service. I didn't write it down, but it stuck with me and added a different perspective to a question I've been processing over the last few weeks.

Why are we never satisfied with our own bodies, circumstances, jobs, pleasures, etc.? 

While the most common responses include answers such as personal sin, brainwashing by the media, and one's childhood, these never quite satisfied my inquiry. While I understand how the consequences of my sin, the message of the media, and the baggage of my childhood impact my current level of contentment, I wonder if this "thread of eternity" also plays a role.

Why am I unhappy in my body? Why do I care about keeping my weight down, my muscles toned, or my skin tanned? Why do I constantly wish for a new hairstyle, new nail polish designs, new clothes, or new accessories? Maybe it's because I'm self-centered. Maybe it's because I see pictures of perfectly sculptured bodies in the media. Maybe it's because I grew up in a community of people who were always trying the newest fad diet. But what if it's because my spirit knows that my future does not include an aching body plagued with disease or limbs with limited usability? What if my dissatisfaction in this life has nothing to do with this life? (2 Corinthians 5:4-5)

Why do I get frustrated with the injustices in my life? Why do I get angry with drivers who cut me off without using a blinker? Why do I blame others when something doesn't go my way? Why do I shake my head at the young girls who get pregnant out of wedlock when all I've ever wanted was to be a mom? Maybe it's because I'm a control freak, maybe it's because I've watched sitcoms that have attached my value as a person to my job or marital status, maybe it's because I grew up in a community where my future significance was defined as "wife and mother." But what if it's because my spirit knows that vengeance belongs to the Judge and that he has already cancelled my debt and the debt of those who have "wronged" me? What if my dissatisfaction in this life has nothing to do with this life? (Hebrews 10:17-18,30)

Why do I grow weary with my job? Why do I prioritize the aspects of my job that I enjoy and procrastinate the others? Why do I cringe when the alarm clock goes off in the morning? Why do I countdown to the weekends and grow jealous over others' vacations? Maybe it's because I'm lazy and selfish. Maybe it's because I'm inundated with commercials about the best places to vacation while staring at my less than abundant bank account. Maybe it's because I grew up in a society that gives accolades to the workaholic (even in ministry jobs), yet values retirement plans. But what if it's because my spirit knows that my rest lies in the One who made me and that my destiny is not dependent upon my work hours? What if my dissatisfaction in this life has nothing to do with this life? (Galatians 6:9)

Why can I never get enough of life's pleasures? Why am I drawn to clothing stores when I'm stressed...or not stressed? Why do I decorate my office in beach paraphernalia that constantly reminds me of where I'm not? Why do I stock up on Moose Tracks ice cream when it's B1G1 at Publix even when I know it's unhealthy? Maybe it's because I'm prone to compulsive behaviors. Maybe it's because I'm consumed with advertisements for beach rental property. Mabye it's because I grew up in a world of instant gratification. But what if it's because my spirit knows that the God who gives me good and perfect gifts in this temporary life is the God that gives me life eternal? What if my dissatisfaction in this life has nothing to do with this life? (James 1:12-17)

What if my dissatisfaction with this life is really about my longing for the next? What if my struggle with discontentment is related to the "thread of eternity" that has weaved its way into every aspect of my current life? What if it's because "...he has put eternity into man's heart...(Eccl. 3:11)."

I'm not excusing the choices I've made as a result of my discontentment, I just wonder if the reason that this world doesn't satisfy is simply because it doesn't satisfy.

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (emphasis mine)

~Rebecca Phillips

1 comment:

  1. Several years ago, I identified the vague sadness and nostalgia I always feel on summer evenings--nostalgia for something I could not quite define or recall--as this longing for eternity. Somehow for me, summer is the essence of a piece of eternity, but it's never long enough. Thank you for this very insightful piece!