When money isn’t enough…

Williams’ chapter on ‘Comfort that money cannot buy’ had several reflections in it that I thought were worth sharing with you.

He discusses the fact that there is a part of us that does not eagerly receive the new heart God has in store for us. Although we long for the benefits of love, forgiveness, and fellowship with God, we also want to cling to the old familiar territory of our destructive habits and remaining stuck in a place of numbness. When I think about that tension between the old and the new wrestling within us, I can see the truth in that. It is a sad reality that there are crevices we don’t really want God to touch and transform because we’re comfortable with a lower standard of living. The good news is that God doesn’t allow His children to stay in that place without making it increasingly undesirable. He knows that we are made to move forward and mature in our faith. Those old things we cling to will lose their appeal the more we learn of Him. When His light shines on them, we will begin to see them for the shabby and empty things that they really are.

When we stop to reflect on the things that we cannot take with us when we die, Williams points out, we can discover what it is that we are particularly attached to as well as the reality that ultimately our identity must be found in Christ alone. This is a good exercise to ruminate over from time to time. What would be painful for you to let go of? How do those things shape the way you see yourself? Again, I would say that we may not have to wait until death to be pruned by God. There are times that He sees our growing attachment to something or someone and He takes those things away. Even if the situation itself doesn’t change, sometimes He works in our hearts to point out that we have clung to something other than Him for our worth.

Williams also addresses the tendency for us to falsely believe that bigger is better. That insatiable desire for more is destructive if we keep running after anything and everything but God. Perhaps for the committed Christian, this can become a fairly inconspicuous struggle, for maybe the things he wants are spiritual or ‘good.’ It is true that as our relationship with Him deepens, the desires of our hearts will be made more like His. Still, maybe our difficulty then is to want to ‘help’ God to make them happen or to place them in a higher position than our contentment with God Himself. One thing that I have observed in my own relentless quest for more is God’s ability to remove the satisfaction that comes from getting what I thought I wanted. Over the last several years, I have found that God seems to ‘poke holes’ in the things that I once thought would make me happy and whole so that I still feel empty and recognize my need for Him.  He’s also adjusted my lens so that when I do receive things that are truly good, I am less apt to expect them to fulfill my every expectation. This doesn’t diminish their goodness, but it does teach me to see them in their proper perspective.

When enough isn’t enough

I am in the process of reading Cliff Williams’ provocative work, ‘With All That We Have Why Aren’t We Satisfied?’

This seems a timely question to ask ourselves, and yet it is clear in scripture that it is a problem that we’ve had ever since the fall. Our proclivity to want just a little more than what we’ve already got manifests itself in all kinds of ways, big and small. Perhaps the worst offenses are the ones that remain undetected. The ones that fly under the radar and no one asks you about it because they don’t even notice or think it’s wrong.

I’m not advocating that we appoint ourselves as judges over the heart and behavior of others. No, one thing we do have enough of is our own messes to bring before the Lord in humility. What I am saying is that we should aim to draw close to the Lord so that we can begin to recognize even subtle stirrings in our hearts to become discontent with what has been given and to strive after something or someone to fill that longing or void.

Williams recommends that we discover and receive God’s love. He suggests that if we are willing to really let the reality of God’s love seep in, that some of that restlessness in us will find a deeper, truer satisfaction that can only be found in Him.

He also points to relationships with others as a means for growing through the frustrations we have with unfulfilled longings, disappointments, and hurts. As we extend Christ’s love to our brother, sometimes we forget, even if only for a little while, our own concerns. God ushers us into a glimpse of the beauty and wonder of the gift of selflessness.

Maybe there are things that have been deeply buried in our hearts that need to be cleaned out. Williams indicates that these secret tragedies have a greater hold on us while they remain yet untold. True fellowship can be a viable salve for some of the wounds we’ve suffered with silently but we must be willing to extend our hand in order to experience the healing.

Tomorrow, I’d like to spend some time specifically in his chapter on ‘Comfort that Money Cannot Buy’ because I found myself marking various passages.