Author | Steve
A new year! A fresh start! A new you! But honestly, how are those resolutions going for better eating, better exercise, better boundaries, better planning? I know…I’m the meanie reminding you of your out-of-the-gate failure. But the only reason I know where you likely are is because I’m there already too.
However, I do know something better, far better than trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. Over the next three posts, I want to share three very real and specific ways I’ve been led to something better that goes against the prevailing wisdom of the world – and more painfully, against my own wisdom and desires. I share them because I don’t think they are unique to me and might be helpful for you, though not every one will share my struggle. I share these in hopes that you will be drawn closer to the One who is better…every time.
I share these in hopes that you will be drawn closer to the One who is better…every time.
Made for More
There is an insatiable hunger in my soul for more. More square feet. More horsepower. More dollars. And more bacon…definitely more bacon! Oh, and more U2 albums too! Wanting more of something is not automatically a bad thing. However, my hunger for more is really about something else.
my hunger for more is really about something else
The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible says:
[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
We were created with a hunger for eternity – for life that knows no end. No end of breathing. No end of rejoicing. No end of feasting. No end of laughing. No end of celebrating. No end of, well, living.
The sons of Korah penned a beautiful song almost 3,000 years ago that describes in more detail this hunger in our souls. The song begins:
How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. ~ Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)
Not only do I long for eternity, I hunger for the eternal God. That’s a huge hunger! It stands to reason that we want more. My problem is I don’t really know what I want more of…but I think I do.
More of What?
I grew up in a middle-class family in the United States in the 1970s and 80s. We never really wanted for anything. In fact, we did pretty well. Food on the table, private schooling, vacations, birthday parties and plenty to unwrap at Christmas. But more than that, I grew up in a family that was safe, full of love and forgiveness, all rooted in a deep faith in the love of God as expressed through Jesus, His Son. In time, I would become a youth minister and then an ordained pastor, sharing this same Jesus with thousands of people over the years.
I share all this because even in the midst of living in a beautifully grace-filled life, I began to exchange God’s more for something else.
In the United States alone, almost $190 billion were spent on advertising in 2015 – a constant barrage of messages enticing us to more than we have now. Like a frog in a pot, I hadn’t noticed the heat of the increasing consumption of more in my culture. I kicked back and floated along, a frog in a comfortable hot tub. I was progressing like all my neighbors to ever more square feet, better food and better wine, more hours of work, less hours with my family and a nagging hunger for something…more.
Like a frog in a pot, I hadn’t noticed the heat of the increasing consumption of more in my culture.
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Remember when I said at the beginning that this would be helpful to some of you, but not necessarily hit home with everyone? I want you to hear me loud and clear: I am not against people living in large houses, or driving nice cars, or having money in the bank! Money is not the root of all evil; the love of it is. God has blessed me to know a number of people of great wealth who handled their wealth well. That being said, in my culture, even in the Christian church (maybe even especially in the Christian church), we have exchanged God’s more for the endless pursuit of more that so often leaves us empty. I know, because I was there. If you long for peace but are full of fear and exhaustion, if you yearn for joy but are full of anger and resentment, if you crave community but are isolated and lonely, maybe more of what you’ve been after isn’t going to get you there.
we have exchanged God’s more for the endless pursuit of more that so often leaves us empty
More with Less
A year ago, God scared the crap out of me when He knocked over my little idol of ‘more.’ I didn’t really know it was an idol. I thought it was natural, like breathing oxygen. The problem was I could barely breathe. All the more in the world wasn’t going to fill the void that was growing inside of me. (If you are new to our blog, check out these first posts to get some background on this: The Beginning of Our Story, Lightening the Load, and Let’s Get Real)
Here’s the bottom line: the closeness that Jesus gives is better than the more the world advertises!
the closeness that Jesus gives is better than the more the world advertises
That’s the crazy, beautiful truth that God has revealed in our family this year! A bigger house was actually not better for us. A smaller one where Jesus draws us together has brought us way more than we could have ever imagined. Living on less has made us increasingly aware of His amazing provision. Instead of chasing after every conceivable experience, He has led us to chase after each other – the hard, yet rewarding work of being a family running to Him and learning the rhythm of confession and forgiveness. Jesus has been so faithful to us, to do more than we could ask or imagine with less than we have ever had! I don’t know if this is the way we will live the rest of our lives or not; all I know is what He has done with very little has been immensely powerful!
If more hours at the office, more reps at the gym, more cars in the garage, more activities for the kids, or more dollars in the bank are feeling empty to you, would you be willing to try something else? Would you be willing to tell Jesus you’re tired of more? Would you be willing, like the psalm says, “to cry out for the living God?” Because here’s the God’s-honest-truth: He cares about you! He made you for more than an endless, exhausting pursuit of the more the world offers. You don’t have to make it happen. In fact, you can’t. He is powerful to give you exactly what you so desperately hunger for. He knows you more intimately than the Wal-Mart marketing machine, for He is your Maker. Would you be willing to set down your pursuit of more and receive God’s pursuit of you in Jesus?
Would you be willing to set down your pursuit of more and receive God’s pursuit of you in Jesus?
It’s not just for after you die. He’s pursuing you to give you more than the world could ever give…right now.
This is the first in the “Better Than…” series. Read the others here: