The Pain of Satisfaction

The other day I read a story about a man I have admired for well over 20 years. He is the top in his profession, in my opinion. He has known tremendous success in just about any way you could measure it. Not just money, but integrity, family, awards… I have not known him personally, but everything I could ever read about him spoke of excellence.

The other day I heard a story about another person. Not nearly as well known, but a friend. Though I’ve known of difficulties, I have known this person to be a loving person. Though there are struggles, she would be one I would look at and say, “You know what? She loves God and pursues God and loves people. I truly admire that.”

The stories I heard about both of them were the same: ultimately, they weren’t “enjoying the ride.” For the successful man, the article I read talked about how he never let the successes carry him along. He would let the defeats in life depress him for weeks or months. He couldn’t savor the successes, even when it meant so much to so many people.

For the friend, she was allowing words of defeat and depression take away all the Lord had done in her life over these years.

It is like we cannot believe in contentment. Paul’s admonition that “godliness with contentment is great gain” is lost on us. It is too often lost on me. There is always something better I SHOULD be doing, or I left something undone. And should I ever feel a moment of contentment, it is often overwhelmed in a few minutes with guilt. “There are so many who don’t have what I have.” Or other thoughts like that.

Yet, the Word almost yells at us about our incredible God. He is abundant. In him we FEAST on his grace and mercy.

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (Ps. 63:5).

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight” (Eph. 1:7,8).

I am incredibly, deeply satisfied in God’s grace and provision. Truly. My heart is full. It is such a pain to write those words.

Be Awake in Your Own Life

I ran across a review at the NY Times website that caught my attention. The book is called The Slippery Year and it’s what the book is NOT about that caught me.

The author said this:

“It’s really a book about nothing,” said Ms. Gideon, 45, in a telephone interview last week from the summer home in Maine that she was renting with her husband, Ben Rewis, and their son, who is also named Ben. “Or everything. What I discovered is that writing about nothing, I was writing about everything.”

The publisher noted this is written by someone who didn’t have the time or the discretionary income to go to Italy for three months to discover themselves. The point of the book, in writing about the very ordinary events of a life around the age of 40, is that you can discover yourself right where you are.

“The goal is to be awake in your own life.”

Good thought. The author didn’t have to battle through a divorce or depression. It’s just life. And in that life there is the possibility of seeing the blessings.

The review goes on to explore how such a book just may NOT resonate with readers right now. You know, times are tough, people can’t afford things while this lady is writing about nice vacations… blah, blah, blah.

We always seem to find a reason to jettison the ordinary. We just can’t seem to be happy. I think of Paul’s words to the Philippians: “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I find myself in.”

Content. It’s just not the American way.

I have a life. It’s a good one. It’s not front page news and it’s not the stuff of memoirs. It’s not something that gets me national attention as a speaker or preacher, but it’s the life I have. Am I awake in it?

Are there not days when the news is so overwhelming it just knocks the very wind out of you? It’s not the silly matters of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton. It’s not the antics of some athlete.

The news, for whatever reason, will seem to take up the cause of some missing child or woman. This time it was from my home turf, so I paid a little more attention to it. A newly graduated high school senior girl goes missing on Saturday. Today, they find her body. I saw that story and everything just left me.

Another story I saw coupled with it related the story of a 15 year old girl held captive in a closet that was hidden from view. Against her will.

There are days and there are days. This is a day where I know there are no answers but I am left with huge questions. What in the world possesses such sick people? What possesses someone to take an 18 year old girl captive in a parking lot in full view of surveillance cameras, then kill her?

What possesses a couple to kidnap a girl and hold her in a hidden closet for a year?

What is happening in our world? How do we respond?

I know the short answer is “sin.” But every once in awhile the whole issue of the depth of humanity’s sin just slaps me hard in the face and this is one of those days. Our world is unbelievably dark and we are in need of LIGHT. We are in desperate need of change.

Lord, save us. Please have mercy.