Satisfaction in 2019

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The Rolling Stones had a song entitled “I can’t get no satisfaction.” What the song implies is probably what many of us feel on a consistent basis: try as we might, much of life leaves us feeling unsatisfied!

It’s natural to think that the goal in life is to get as much satisfaction as we can. How can we receive maximum pleasure and minimum pain? This is easy to see in children. I have a three-year-old son and he is constantly jumping from one form of entertainment to another. The sights and sounds of older toys no longer do the trick and entertain as they once did. It’s the same with movies and TV shows. Sesame Street has now been relegated as boring compared to Planet Earth.

While it’s easy to see in my son, it’s probably even easier to see in me. What satisfies and fulfills? I did the same thing with toys and television. I was always looking for the next best thing. Then I became a teenager. As a teenager I was constantly striving for achievement whether that manifested in good grades, securing black belts in karate, winning golf championships, pursuing lead acting roles in school, or a desire to be prom king.

All the while, I was looking for success in high school which would propel me to get into a good college. And after getting into a good college I would start over. I needed good grades to have a satisfying career. I needed to be able to make a good living, so I could have a nice place to live, have an awesome spouse and start the perfect family. I pursued relationships that I thought would be life-giving.

All this time I had been following Jesus. But if I’m being honest, I wanted to have achievement and Jesus. Jesus alone didn’t seem to be all that exciting. But God began to show and remind me that all of those things I enjoy - all the good gifts that God had given me were for the purpose of pointing to the Him as the Giver - the only One who could truly satisfy.

Jesus is so much more than a set of rules and regulations.

As a pastor at Orchard Hill you may be quick to point out: “That’s what I’d expect you to write - that God is all satisfying. That may be true for pastors or missionaries or nuns, but not regular people like me! I get up, go to school or work, take care of kids, barely have time for church, let alone a “quiet time” with God and I do it again next week. I don’t really see or feel how God is really all that satisfying. It seems so allusive.”

The reality for me is that all those things I listed can’t satisfy long term because they weren’t meant to. Let me give you a tangible example. I’m a huge Pittsburgh sports fan. I’ve been following the Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers ever since I was a small child. I love rooting, watching, and supporting them. I follow every game I can by attending or watching on TV.

But as much fun as I have with them, they ultimately let me down. Unless they win the World Series, or the Stanley Cup or the Superbowl, the whole season was a letdown. And if they do win a championship, they must start from scratch and do it again next year!

I love playing golf, but I always end up leaving shots out on the course. I love going on vacations, but the vacations always end. I have great friends, but they sometimes get on my nerves. I have a great family, but I can still get impatient and annoyed. I love being a pastor. I love teaching, encouraging, and praying for people. But the reality is that there are some hard days and real discouragements that are faced as being a pastor and at times, lets me down!

You may even admit to some of those things that I’ve just mentioned but still be skeptical of the Christian faith. In fact, you may have tried the “Christian” thing and have never really gotten it. You may find the faith boring. You may not enjoy sitting down and reading the Bible yourself. You may feel frustrated with prayer. If all of that is the case, is it possible that what you’ve experienced so far is religion and not Jesus himself? Many people view the Christian faith as one of rules with no real joy or substance.

If you delight yourself in Him, He will give you the ultimate desires of your heart

But you see, Jesus is so much more than a set of rules and regulations. Many of us go around life existing and doing the very best we can—pursuing work and pleasure and many “good things.” These are often the gifts God provides but the problem is these are not ultimate things. If we drink of these things, we will ultimately be thirsty again.

In John 4 Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman who is thirsty and wants to drink out of a well. While the woman thinks that what she really needs is a physical drink of water, Jesus tells her what her real need is. “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

What Jesus is saying is that He is the only One who can truly satisfy every longing that you have. He is the only One who is truly all-satisfying. Jesus is also called the Bread of life who satisfies every true hunger that we have within us.

Jesus is not just useful. He’s not just there when someone is sick or dying. He’s not just there when there is an important spiritual event happening in your life like a baptism, wedding or funeral. He’s there right now. He’s longing to come into your life to prove Himself over - being all satisfying in this life and in the life to come. He didn’t just come to meet your desires but to change your desires for Him. If you delight yourself in Him, He will give you the ultimate desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

I encourage you to think about that this New Year. Contemplate what Jesus offers. Ask Him to prove Himself as the only One who can truly satisfy so that when the stock market crashes, or the marriage ends, or the sickness returns, or the loved one dies, you can be confident that you have Christ and that is enough. I leave you with these verses from Philippians 3:8-11 to mediate on in 2019:

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God based on faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”