Thought for the Month - December 2009
We spend a lot of time and effort at the race track and at the shop during the week all trying to achieve a single goal, that of winning a race. Most of us don’t win as frequently as we would like. Some people might even think we are crazy to put so much effort in to be successful so few times, if ever. Yet we keep going back over and over, week in and week out trying to satisfy a need within us that we can’t really explain to others; a need to just once come out on top. And yet even when we achieve that need, it never satisfies us for very long. At best it’s a week’s worth of satisfaction (two with a rainout) and then it’s back to the track to try to fill the need again.
Our lives can often be, or feel, the same way. There’s an emptiness inside that we consistently try to fill with outside things to satisfy us. We try to fill it with a career, and when that doesn’t work a spouse, and when that doesn’t work children, and when that doesn’t work we have a mid-life crisis we change careers or buy a sports car and get a younger spouse (I jest…I think). These things usually satisfy us temporarily, but generally just get us by until the next temporary satisfaction on the list. All the while we never really feel fulfilled inside. We are left wondering what is next, what is out there that we are missing, or for what purpose we even live.
In John chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman not unlike many of us today. She had been through multiple relationships, she was married and divorced 5 times (vs 18), and she had been to a church that didn’t really satisfy her needs (vs 20-22). She has led a very unsatisfying life, and she is still left searching for more. Now she meets Jesus unknowingly at the public well, and He asks her for a drink. Here is a look at their conversation:
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
There are two key thoughts here. First in verses 13-14 Jesus points out that nothing on this earth can satisfy that thirst, or that emptiness in our lives, that need in our lives that we discussed earlier. The only way to fill this need, or never thirst again, is through the satisfaction (water) that only He can offer. In fact He notes that not only can He satisfy, but He will become “a fountain of water” so that we never have to search for anything to satisfy us again. The second key in this passage is that Jesus tells us how to attain it. In verse 10 He tells us that all we have to do is ask Him, and He gives it to us freely.
So to recap what Jesus is telling us,
1) It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through, you can come to Him.
2) He alone can satisfy the ‘thirst’ in your life.
3) It’s yours just for the asking.
Is there any other relationship in your life that can do all of that for you? If your life lacks purpose, fulfillment or contentment, come to the well, meet Jesus and never thirst for anything again.
16 For by Him (Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Have you ever felt like your life is falling apart? Perhaps you or someone you know has said that ‘their world is coming down around them’. Often times when statements like this are made, it can be traced to a specific event in one’s life. Some examples might be heartbreak, loss of a job, death of a family member or close friend, divorce, injury, etc. When something we value highly in our lives is lost or changes in a way we don’t like, it is natural to feel as though our lives are falling apart. Yet it is foolish for us to think that we can go through life without any major negative changes happening to us at some point. Death happens all the time, injury and illness is unpredictable, as are economics, and relationships constantly change – even the healthy ones, as people grow older. So then why do we still fall apart if we know these changes are inevitable?
The problem is that we wrap our lives and our sense of self worth around these things, so much so that when we lose them we no longer know how to function without them. The key then to keeping your life balanced and together is to either find something that does not change to wrap you life around, or discover what it is that your life was designed to be wrapped around. Fortunately, those things are one in the same. We learn in the passage above that ALL things (including your life) were created through Christ and for Him (verse 16) so that to not have Christ as a central part of your life would lead to imbalance. Further in verse 17 we learn that in Christ all things consist; or in other words are held together. Therefore if your life is falling apart, and you are wondering how to keep it together, it would make sense to look to Christ, seeing as that IN Him the entire universe is held together. If we go further into this passage we see that it pleased God that things work through Jesus (verse 19) so this is the way our lives were designed to work. Therefore finding ANY other avenue through which to balance your life upon is going to lead eventually to that falling apart feeling. This does not necessarily mean that the other things are bad. To have a job you enjoy, a husband or wife you love, or a hobby you appreciate is not a problem. The problem only comes in when we place an expectation on those things to make us happy or keep our lives together.
If you want to keep your life from falling apart, remember how it is that your life holds together. Then you can have peace of God as pointed out in verse 20.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Christ to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
And He even tells us how in verse 23.
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven
The passage this month makes it clear how and why we were created. It wasn’t for a job, another person, a soul mate or any other human reason. When we keep these things in their rightful place then we are free to recognize that the key to keeping your life together is knowing exactly how it was designed to do so... in Jesus Christ.
Society tries to tell us a great deal these days about what we deserve. Lawyers on TV tell us that if we get in a car accident, they can get us the money we deserve. Radio ads tell women about makeup products that can give them the younger looking skin they deserve. People expect just because they are at a job longer than a coworker they deserve a raise or a promotion over that person. Doctors have to fear making mistakes anymore, because if they do somehow the patient deserves money in restitution. This thinking crosses over to our spiritual mentality as well. We ask questions like: ‘If the Lord loves us, why do bad things happen’, as if we deserve something from the Lord just for existing.
So what exactly do we deserve? By Webster’s definition, deserve means “to show oneself worthy of; or by conduct have a claim to”. By this explanation none of the things above fit into the category of things we deserve. If another driver makes a mistake in judgement and causes an accident, what conduct of mine allows me to make a claim that I deserve millions of dollars? Does just being at a job for another year prove myself worthy of deserving a raise? When my doctor makes a mistake, what conduct of mine causes me to be owed a big settlement for that? How do we determine which women have shown themselves worthy of younger looking skin?
The fact is that we don’t really deserve anything in these situations; society lies to us. If we were owed something after an accident, it wouldn’t be called an accident, it would be called an ‘on purpose’. If another coworker gets the promotion, I probably should have worked harder. Everyone man and woman grows old, no one is owed youth. When we get sick, and we go to a doctor who tries to help us, do we really expect that another human being can’t make a mistake? Should we really be trying to destroy a person who has given their life to helping people stay well, if he can’t make us better?
Our spiritual life is no different. In fact, what we deserve and what the Lord has offered us are two completely opposite things. Unless we are absolutely perfect, we cannot enter heaven, because that is where perfection is, and we would taint it. Because Heaven is where God is we are therefore eternally separated from Him (and thus sent to hell, which is what we deserve, because our imperfect conduct lays claim to it) (Rom 3:23). Because the Lord loved us and didn’t want us to be separated from Him, he came to earth in the form of a man (Jesus) and died for our imperfections (sins). If we accept Jesus as our redeemer, then when we die we are made perfect again through Jesus’ redemptive death and thus get what we do NOT deserve. If we don’t accept Jesus then the Lord simply gives us what we DO deserve. (Rom 6:23)
What’s great about this plan is the Lord lets us decide what we want to do. (Rom 10:9) He doesn’t force us to choose His way and He didn’t force us to take what we deserve. He does this because He cares about us.
It’s your choice today, He gave you that choice. Just remember what we deserve and the choice should be pretty easy.
10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master [d] is old, will I now have this pleasure?" 13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."
But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."
The world today is filled with reasons for us to laugh just as Sarah did when we look at some of the promises of the Lord; especially today as people lose their jobs left and right. Money is tight everywhere and we say “how can I pay my bills without a job?” And yet it is interesting how at these times it’s those old scriptures that people turn to for comfort. Like the one above. Truly it is at the difficult times that lines like “is anything too difficult for the Lord?” seem so much more relevant. So many times people have said “the Bible just isn’t relevant anymore; it doesn’t apply to how things are today.” Yet church attendance is up worldwide in the wake of the financial crisis. It’s funny but that’s how it is when the things we hold onto and search after become unattainable. The 60” TV doesn’t seem so necessary when you have to worry about whether or not you are going to be able to eat this week. The brand new car (and it’s payment), the great new cell phone (and it’s bill) lose a lot of their luster when you need to worry about how to pay the mortgage or the rent this month.
And yet despite all of our doubt and unbelief, the Lord is still there for us.
Don’t get me wrong, you have options. You can choose to blame Him for the state of the economy, and for not bailing us out (Although he didn’t go out and buy the new car). You can shake your fist at Him for not helping you keep your job (but did you thank Him for having it in the first place)? OR you can say ‘Lord, I know you’re there and I know you can get me through this, I’m with you.’
Sarah laughed at Him, lied to Him, but ultimately found the Lord to be truthful, loving and most importantly ABLE to keep His word; and she had a baby at 90 years old.
Imagine what He wants to do with you if you just believe in Him…put your trust in Him…rather than the things and people in the world.