December 18, 2013

Chasing cars

My dad always laughed at a dog chasing a car. He would say, “That silly dog would never know what to do with it if he caught it.”
I’ve been thinking about his words and how they apply to other things that people chase after. If those goals were achieved, would we know what to do with them?

For instance, many buy lottery tickets hoping for the big win, yet most of the people who do win have little skill with managing money and their winnings are soon gone. They don’t know what to do with them.

When I was in high school, one of my friends set her sights on a fellow who lived in another community. Her passion was so well known that it even made it into the class yearbook. Finally, she caught him, but she didn’t know what to do with that relationship and it eventually became another sad statistic.

I’ve thought about the goals that I set. Some of them have been achieved, but they are hollow. I’ve discovered that getting a high mark on an exam isn’t nearly as satisfying as an unexpected hug from a friend, nor does winning a prize equal the smile from a person who went out of their way to say hello.

When it comes down to it, all the desires of my heart and all the accomplishments reached cannot compare to the things that God does in my life, things that I have no control over. He is the best reward, not just what He does for me, but the fact of His presence and place in my life.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

The Bible says that the reason God created people is that He wanted to share His love with us and He wants us to share His glory with the rest of the world. When I try to govern my own life for other ends, I am essentially saying that His plan isn’t good enough or satisfying enough, and mine is better. How silly is that?

It works the same with money, fame, relationships or whatever else I might put on my to-do list. Even if those things are accomplished, unless they are also the will of God for me, there is no lasting satisfaction. Like a restless butterfly, I could flit from blossom to blossom, never settling, never content.

This also is the spirit of this age. Notice how many pursuits in these verses are like a dog chasing a car . . .

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God... (2 Timothy 3:1–4)

Loving myself puts me in the race. Instead of being content with the plan of God, I go chasing after other things such as money or whatever will feed my pride. In that pursuit, I could become arrogant, abusive, ungrateful, and the list goes on. It ends with being a lover of pleasure and everyone knows how fleeting that is. Pleasure lasts only until the next ‘fix’ and that fix must be more intense than the previous one or it is ‘boring’ and will not do it.

How sad it is that some of us forget the dignity of imaging God and make slaves out of His gifts that are meant to serve us. Instead of making God our ultimate purpose and placing our chief happiness in Him, our appetites, lusts, and idols become our gods and of worldly pleasure becomes our goal. We need divine grace to overcome this malady of the heart and give us a strong desire for more excellent things, for things that will not perish with time and the end of life in this world.

My dad was not a philosopher or a Bible student, but for some reason he understood the folly of chasing after things that were not going to do anything for him -- even if he did catch them. I’ve not inherited that quality. I seem to continually need reminding that God alone is the real Joy-giver, the only One who can truly satisfy my soul.

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