Prayer Thought: Dissatisfied Delight
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.
“How can I be satisfied?” Or ”What satisfies me and makes my life easier?” We are bombarded with this question and the feelings that go along with it on a daily basis.
My guess is that we would get a myriad of different answers. Satisfaction in work performance…just enough so I stay under my boss’s radar. Satisfaction in how and what I eat…to stay thin and still get full. Satisfaction in my team winning the big game. Satisfaction in my marriage…as long as neither of us rock the boat. Satisfaction in my friendships and other relationships. Satisfaction at my church, my neighborhood, my community…all of these as long as they don’t ask too much of me or make me step out of my comfort zone.
What about followers of Christ? Should we have a different viewpoint than the rest of the world regarding how we are to gain satisfaction? The above quote by Clive Staples Lewis indicates a big resounding YES WE SHOULD! But before we dive into his quote, there is a biblical principle at work here that needs some attention. You see, before Adam and Eve sinned, they were in perfect union and communion with God…perfectly satisfied without a care in the world. Paul Tripp, an amazing author and Christian speaker, says that Adam and Eve experienced a perfect, “Shalom” relationship with God. Many people think the word shalom means “peace.” But it actually means, “The world as it was meant to be…everything perfectly ordered and operating in peace, harmony, unity, wholeness, and cooperation. Things operating exactly how they’re supposed to operate.”
Does the world that you live in sound like a shalomic world? Mine sure doesn’t! After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, their perfect shalom was gone…never to be returned again until they died and were in God’s presence again in glory. Sin has caused us to be far too easily satisfied living in brokenness, despair and eeking by like that’s how life is supposed to turn out. We just keep moving along hoping we can live to fight another day. We settle for momentary happiness instead of fullness of joy…whatever feels good in the moment instead of God’s infinitely greater best for our lives…being autonomous instead of trusting and depending fully on the Lord for our daily need.
Christ came and died to free us from the insatiable desire to be mediocre and happy about it. He came to give us fullness of life, power through His resurrected body, sanctification through the might of the Holy Spirit, righteousness through grace NOT works, peace through obedience born of love, boldness through a life of prayer that is before the throne room of grace. Answers to prayer amidst our frail brokenness. How is all of this possible? By being dissatisfied with how you view your Christian walk, in light of how God sees you and what He says you are worth to Him! As we are reminded of these amazing gospel truths, the mature Christian becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo. We MUST be dissatisfied by the way we deal with sin, sickness, sorrow, and “satisfaction!”
Missionaries have to be some of the most dissatisfied people on the planet or there would be no need for them. Why do they uproot themselves from everything they know to be familiar, entering a completely foreign culture, many times a foreign language, foreign cultural distinctions, foreign people groups, foreign way to “do church” …etc.? Because they know that the gospel has revolutionized their own heart to the point that they never want to settle for “satisfied” ever again! And so, in a similar sense, we are all called to be missionaries who spread the gospel to our neighborhoods and to the ends of the world. The big question is…Do we long to have holy dissatisfaction in our lives the way I described missionaries?
Being a guy that brings the conversation always back to prayer, let me ask all of us this vitally important question…”Are we all too easily satisfied in our prayer life?” If we are introspective and honest enough, my guess is that many of us would say YES. But why? Are we so naïve that we are just sitting back thinking that God is fairly pleased with our efforts, when in reality we have our own personal set of merit badges that make us feel like God will certainly see all that we’ve done for Him now…my goodness, we at least pray pretty often. And so we justify that surely God will bless our efforts.
Our hearts convict us in these certain areas…including prayerlessness…so our hope is that this conviction allows us to strive to be more and more dissatisfied with our lives. To stop “making mud pies in a slum,” as Lewis so strikingly points out. Only then will we pray with more boldness believing that God will absolutely answer our prayers, speak the name of Christ with more passion, surrender our hurts and brokenness over to the Lord, and enjoy the sweet unity of shalom with our Father, Abba.
Abba, thank You for Your amazing grace through Christ. I ask now that You help me to be more and more dissatisfied with my life the way it is. Convict me, Holy Spirit, in the areas I need to surrender over to You to experience more shalom in Your presence. Amen
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer