Recently my family and I were on our summer vacation at a Christian retreat center and I decided to grab a Gold Peak sweet tea out of the vending machine before the speaking session. The man in front of me pressed the buttons for a Mountain Dew and to his surprise a Diet Coke came out instead.
“Aw man, it gave me what I needed, not what I wanted,” he turned around and said to me.
I smiled and empathized with him, offering my extra change.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll just take it anyway,” he said reluctantly.
As I went to carefully press the buttons for my tea, I thought about his words and how true they were in our spiritual lives.
Jesus is concerned about what we need, more than what we want. In fact, our wants, desires, and cravings can often lead us down a path of unneccesary pain, hurt, and tears: Coveting something that is not ours to the point of our family’s ruin, desiring the latest fad that only leaves us feeling empty, overindulging in sugar that gives us exhaustian and an expanded waistline, and more.
Jesus is the one able to give us more than we can think of or imagine. He is more than a quick fix but offers us everlasting joy and peace because he is the Living Water. What we see and long for here on earth barely sctraches the beauty and majesty of the abundant life that he says he offers us today and into eternity. He knows what our soul needs most and it is Christ alone. Nothing more. Nothing added. No substitutes. Not Jesus + _______ (you fill in the blank).
It seems though, that we’re still on a meaningless chase to find happiness and joy that is already in front of us.
C.S. Lewis famously quoted:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Jesus is the only one who can bring the lasting infinite joy and pleasure that our souls are longing for so deeply. Truly, we know we were made for something beyond ourselves and what this world skillyfully markets to us, but is a false sense of happiness and security.
Later in the day, as my kids play in the white sand and build castles with sticks, leaves, and rocks, they’re in their own world with not much at their fingertips but the gift of nature. Yet, they’re pleased, satisfied, and completely entertained. They laugh and dance by the water. The sand covers their skin and they’re hot now.
“Let’s take a dip in the cool water!” I say.
“Yeah!” they yell, setting their shovels and buckets down for a better reward of crashing waves and clean skin. Their bodies are engulfed by the refreshing water and their little souls are refreshed.
May we be men and women who are not too easily pleased by the “wants” in our life, but instead are “all in” when it comes to enjoying the beauty, greatness, and holiness of our God who promises that when we come to him that we’ll never be thirsty again.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” – John 7:37