It’s your birthday. And positioned on the table in front of you is your celebration cake, loaded with far too much candlepower — bearing testimony to your advancing age. Your family and friends encourage you to “make a wish” before you have your lung capacity tested in the attempt to extinguish the dancing flames. What will your wish be?
According to a Carvel Ice Cream survey done a few years ago, if you are a man, your top five wishes will be:
- Lower golf score
- Weight loss
- Favorite sports-team championship
- Plastic surgery
If you are a woman, your top five wishes will be:
- More time with your spouse
- Your children’s well-being
- Plastic surgery
A perusal of that list reveals that what A. W. Tozer wrote some 40 years ago for the most part still applies today: “We are too much influenced by the world and too little controlled by the Spirit. We of the deeper life persuasion are not immune to the temptations of ease and we are in grave danger of becoming a generation of pleasure lovers.”
While it is not a birthday wish, the Scriptures offer a far more appealing desire: that our hearts will be directed and led into the love of God, and the patience and steadfastness of Christ (2 Thess. 3:5; NASB).
What does that mean? It means the greatest thing I can offer my children is not myself, but my deep love of Christ. It means that the only thing that lasts forever is not a souped-up sports car, but a heart aflame for God. It means that the only enduring thing is not “chocolate on the lips,” but a deep and abiding walk with Christ.
One of the best things I can pray for myself, my children, and my friends is that they will come to know the reality and fullness of God’s love for them (and me), and that they (and I) will come to know the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from loving God and obeying His revealed will.
I’m afraid that we (yes, we in the church, not just our secular culture), have accepted a disastrous lie. We have come to believe that fulfillment, refreshment, joy, and satisfaction come from acquiring things and attaining position. We would never acknowledge that in word, but our activities, checkbook, worries, and schedule all reveal that it is true. Our lives are empty, and instead of filling it with God, we have filled them with stuff.
What is your desire? What is at the bottom of your heart that drives and compels you? If Christ were to ask you the three-fold question — “Do you love me? — that He asked Peter (Jn. 21:15-17), how would you answer? Hear the prayer of Paul for you today: there is something infinitely better — a God who offers you His infinite love, and who has made you to know and experience that love.
One writer summarizes our choices well: “The endless stream of new goods and services which keeps us running at ‘breathless pace’…looks utterly worldly, and yet inscribed all over it is a misdirected desire for God.”