It is a wise use of time to consider the direction of one’s life, pondering the extent to which it has been lived well and has significance beyond the small span of years that it has on earth.
One may, on occasion, reflect on such things and find the path that he treads lacking in any really meaningful direction or having any real eternal value. Hungering for more in life is a good thing.
At times, one may look at his or her life and perceive shackles and chains that keep him or her in bondage and unable to cultivate those things that are truly important and precious. Guilt, obsession, shame, fear, pride, anger, lust, bitterness, apathy, or greed form bonds that cannot be broken by mere human strength. Even Christians can fall victim to the depredations of such snares, spiritually disemboweled and empty of the hope, victory, joy and peace we profess to have in Christ Jesus.
Sadly, these are times when the sum total of our spirituality is tied up with the waves of circumstances that we ride or the emotional tides that lap at the shorelines of our lives. We sometimes follow Jesus simply because we desire Him to fill our “spiritual bellies” or fix our problems; not because He is Lord of all and has done the amazing work of atoning for our sin with His own life. Sometimes we “follow” Him just because we see Him as a free ride out of pain and sorrow and into contentment and easy living.
So what can we say about this? Does He or does He not care for our pain and suffering? Of course He does. Is it or is it not of any significance to Him that we may be lonely or afraid, hurting or hungry? Of course it is. Otherwise He would not have given to you and me an outstretched hand and invited us into the “living room” of His grace.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
Anyone who does not allow for the love of Jesus being realized in the human experience does not understand the love of our Savior. He who thinks of the love of God as being purely an abstract theological teaching is missing out on a great truth about the love of God: that the love of God is REAL. It is eternal and transcendent, to be sure, for it is above any mere mortal’s ability to grasp how perfect and endless is the love of our Redeemer.
Nevertheless, the tremendous love of God spills into our lives daily. Whenever the fingers of dawn begin to stretch into the twilight of the eastern sky each morning, we are reminded that no darkness is so enduring that daybreak will not come in time. Whenever the giggles of children interrupt our otherwise mundane days, we are taught anew that it isn’t too late to sip again the nectars of the joy and hope that only God’s love can bring. And whenever we find our hearts breaking when suffering the loss of a loved one through death or through estrangement, we take comfort in knowing that as Jesus was deeply moved to the point of weeping for grief-stricken Mary and Martha in John 11:33 and 35, so is He moved by the deep ache of our lives when we also lose hope.
However, we must first of all be mindful of the fact that God’s love compels us to become more than what we were before we met Christ Jesus. He will not be satisfied with “leaving well enough alone.” He is not content with that. He desires for us to no longer be slaves to sin, prisoners of hopelessness, and punching bags for despair. He has adopted us into His family and has made of us children of His royal family as well as junior partners with Him as we serve Him in this life.
Secondly, let us not be oblivious to the fact that His will always directs us to new horizons as we climb with Him to new experiences, new hopes, and a new future. One knows how seriously he or she takes the will of God by how much God’s will matters in the planning of each and every day.
Finally, let us consider well the ultimate purposes of the demonstration of God’s power in our lives. It is not simply to make things more convenient for us. While our Father in heaven may choose to bless us materially for example, He is not excessively worried about the quality of the car we drive or the clothes we wear. And I will guarantee that the forefront of God’s mind is NOT occupied with the size of one’s house or yard. Those things in which we find ourselves somewhat lacking are “pointers to God” — inasmuch as we permit God to remind us that He Himself is our all-in-all. If we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we may count ourselves rich beyond measure though we wear patched clothes or are forced to ride a bike because we have no car. And those things in which we can see our needs being met by His graciousness are also just temporary “pointers” to those things that really count in eternity.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal” (John 6:26-27 ESV).
And what are the things that really count and what is this “food that endures to eternal life”?
Simply put, these things that count most are the things that have eternal consequence. One’s eternal destiny, for example, should be an urgent priority because we do not know the count of days given to us. Also of great importance is the spiritual legacy we each will leave behind for others. How does my life impact the spiritual destiny of my family, my friends, my co-workers, and even strangers I may never know?
Most of all, I must ask the question, “Is my life pleasing to God?” I do not want only to be “acceptable” to Him; I want to be PLEASING to Him.
Let it be the ambition of each of His children to hunger for more in life. May it be our goal to one day hear Him say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Come and share your Master’s happiness” (from Matthew 25:21 and 23).
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.