I’m reading a great book right now on the Gospel of Mark by Tim Keller (King’s Cross). At one point in the book he quotes the author Cynthia Heimel; “I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, he grants your deepest wish.” That may sound a bit absurd. How could it be bad to have our deepest wish granted. To understand Heimel’s quote you have to see it in context. She came to that conclusion after considering the life of celebrities. She writes,
I pity [celebrities]. No, I do. [Celebrities] were once perfectly pleasant human beings…but now…their wrath is awful…More than any of us, they wanted fame. They worked, they pushed… The morning after…each of them became famous, they wanted to take an overdose…because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and…happiness, had happened. And nothing changed. They were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.
There’s a profound thought in all of that for us. Ask yourself, if God granted your greatest wish, gave you what you desire most, would you be happy? The truth is, if your greatest desire isn’t Jesus, it wouldn’t. Maybe you want a better job or house, maybe you want a spouse or kids, maybe you want success or money. Perhaps your desire is spiritual rather than temporal: you want to overcome a sin or struggle, you want to do something big for God, or you want to lead a thriving ministry. And somewhere deep down you believe that if you could just get that one thing you would find fulfillment in life.The specific desire really doesn’t matter–spiritual or worldly. The fact is, if God gave you any of these things you would wake up the next morning more miserable than ever before. Why? Because your hope was that in getting your desire you would be fulfilled. But as soon as you get what you want you’ll still feel that emptiness, that longing for something more, and be depressed that your hope was in a sham.
Let me relate personally to this subject. In ministry it is very tempting to base your personal value on tangible results. I have often been tempted to think that if more people liked me, thought I was a great teacher, or if more people came to our church that I would be satisfied in life. I am now certain that I would not be satisfied, because my soul can only be satisfied with Christ.
I hope this line of thinking challenges you as much as it does me. We are all in some way pursuing joy, purpose, and meaning in life. I believe that God want’s us to know that no matter what we get, if it’s not Christ we won’t be satisfied. One of the great comforts in this truth is that right now, no matter what you have or don’t have, you can have joy and fulfillment. You can have joy and fulfillment now because they are based on having Christ, not having a house, family, career, a big ministry (you get the idea). May we not wast our life pursing empty promises. Know and delight in Christ!