The world makes promises it can’t keep. It says the reason we’re unhappy is that we just haven’t found the right whatever yet. But if we keep looking, we’ll find it.
The right spouse, the right hairdo, the right salary, the right entertainment system, the right church, the right pastor, the right Bible, the right seminar, ad infinitum . . . ad nauseam.
You don’t have to be without Jesus to fall into the trap. Even those of us who do believe in Jesus can chase those shadows.
We may not know we’re looking for God. But we are.
In our lives busy with people, it’s tough to appreciate the value of solitude. But one look at Saint George’s Monastery in the Wilderness of Judea gives us reason to pause and ponder the necessity of solitude with God.
As I scanned the monastery’s blue domes and white arches that dot the colorless canvas of the wilderness, I marveled at the time and ingenuity it would have taken to build and rebuild these structures.
I found myself wondering, Why would ANYONE want to live way out there? A friend of mine wondered if the monks in the monastery thought the same thing about us.
Sometimes in our hurry, it does us good to contemplate the value of solitude.
If you’re like me, you’ve noticed something is always breaking or needing upkeep around your house. I have to confess it’s been a doozy of a couple of weeks. Oh, man.
Stuff wears out. Off the top of my head, here are a few samples from the last two weeks (no kidding):
- I replaced our clothes washer motor.
- My car needed new tires.
- A sprinkler head broke.
- Our mailbox stand needs replacing, so I’m building a new one.
- Our mower needed a new “hood.”
- I replaced the septic tank’s electric pump.
I’ll just stop there. Who knows what’s next? I’m convinced the constant breakdowns and home repairs in our lives are really designed to repair something else.
These are intended for a bigger repair.
One of our greatest challenges is finding balance in the Christian life. Think of a person on a tightrope. There’s never a point where they just stroll across effortlessly. Balance requires continual effort.
Have you ever noticed that somehow Jesus balanced it all? The demands of His work and ministry left Him exhausted at times, of course—yet somehow He found time to get it all done.
Jesus perfectly balanced the demands of life—with the same 24 hours we have.
Trying to find the location of the Garden of Eden has given Bible students and scholars an unending quest. The Bible describes Eden as “in the east” and in proximity to a river that became four rivers.
Only two of the four rivers we know the locations of today (Gen. 2:8, 10-14). The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flowed through biblical Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).
But just because the location of the garden remains indefinite, it doesn’t mean we can put it anywhere we want. The best and most honest scholars put a question mark in the atlas beside the location of the Garden of Eden.
Searching for the Garden of Eden doesn’t end with its location. Many people live their lives on a quest for the delights of Eden—for an ideal life.
Here’s why that quest is just as futile as finding its location.
Everybody likes to be an exception to the rule. No exceptions. This paradox seems especially true for individuals who are exceptional. Like Solomon. (And like you and me.)
“I have given you a wise and discerning heart,” God told Solomon, “so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Talk about exceptional!
And yet Solomon became the exception to the wisdom of Solomon. How?
It started with two small compromises that we can avoid.
Sometimes the only thing worse than God refusing to give us what we want occurs when He gives us want we want. Many years ago, our young daughter had only one thing on her mind.
She knew we planned an Easter egg hunt, and she asked if she could eat lots of candy on Easter. We told her no, but she kept after us, day after day. Easter came and she continued to plead. So we decided to let her learn by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. We let her eat as many little chocolate eggs as she wanted.
That night was pitiful.
“Oooooh, mommy, my tummy hurts!” She had learned by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. My toddler’s lesson gets repeated in the life of most of us adults.
But it doesn’t have to.
The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.
Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.
During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).
David felt very alone.
His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.
I got my first suicide-threat phone call during my first year when I served as a pastor. I drove to the neighborhood and found the address in a row of massive homes with fine-trimmed lawns.
I rang the doorbell and a woman with a severe look cracked the door and eyed me without saying a word.
I began the brief conversation. “Hello, uh, I received a call about . . .”
“He’s around back,” she interrupted. The door slammed. I made my way to the back of the mansion and saw one of the several garage doors open. Inside, I found a man sitting on an upside-down bucket.
His bloodshot eyes looked up at me.
To hear Moses describe the Promised Land, it sounded as if it offered vast natural resources—a land where food was plentiful and lacked for nothing (Deut. 8:9). Well, true and not true.
The land had streams, pools, springs, wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. Sounds pretty nice. Sign me up.
But this good land existed in a delicate balance of nature—and God tipped the scales. The Hebrews would learn that God alone made the good land “good” in direct proportion to the gratitude, praise, and obedience of His people.
The same is true of our lives.