“It’s only special if you stay
“Even when you find those things you’ll never change
When the spark is lost
When you feel the cost
It’s only special if you stay”
If You Stay – Ash and Bloom
“What a long day.” He thinks to himself, on the drive home from work. He didn’t exactly love his job anymore; I mean how many years can you stare at a desk until you no longer wake up with a smile. He had worked in the same ten by ten foot office for almost fifteen years. But that wouldn’t change, because he had to make sure that his kid could live a comfortable life. Even the drive home had become something he resented, the same trees, and the same guy biking home, “Who even has time for that?” Finally he was in his driveway, mere steps away from his TV. Where he could sit, have a half conversation with his wife and maybe talk to his little boy, well yell at him to quiet down. Romance wasn’t really a thing anymore, he had no clue where it went, and you can trust him, he was looking. But it just seemed to fade more and more, and the websites that filled his laptop with viruses, seemed to be filling his love life with its own kind of virus.
But fast-forward and watch the story unfold, he plays catch outside with his boy less and less as years pass because “He is too cool for me now.” His wife wants a divorce because he cheated, and he remembers her tearful eyes when she asked him “why?” But he couldn’t give her an answer because even he doesn’t understand. He still deeply loves her. He loses his job and the only sense of security left in his life is gone, so he just turns to alcohol, he used to keep it on the shelf on the weekends he had his son, but lately not even those weekends were safe. Maybe he should just end it.
I just sat here and made that story up in like 45 minutes, but the sad thing is I know this story is far too true in way too many families. Most people, or at least a huge chunk of them will see this story in some shape or form in their life and think to them self “What a jerk,” and “He is pathetic.” People will think he doesn’t love his wife and kid enough, that he is a workaholic, and he has very little self-control. But I tend to just feel so sorry for this person, because the truth is he truly does loves his wife and kid with his whole heart, he hates his job and knows it is ruining the relationship with his son, and he is drowning in the stimulation of this world so instead drowns himself in alcohol. There are far too many people who seek to find experience. The slogan of his life is that of a vacation destination “Fun. Discover. Explore.”
Now before I go on, I have to back track a bit and reel my words in. I am all for experiences, and excitement. In no way am I saying people shouldn’t experience pleasure. On the contrary, this is a part of the church that I really dislike. The church tends to give people the impression that God is against pleasure. God. Created. Pleasure. Judah Smith speaks to this point explaining how Jesus was all about Joy, He would take time to enjoy food and peoples company and was rarely in a hurry, because He knew how to experience life.* So if Jesus seemed to enjoy food and drink what are we to do with the words from the Apostle Paul in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”(ESV)?
In the story above the man is seeking for experience. Why? Because we are experiential beings, we were made to experience life. God created food to taste good (or at least He created the cooks who make it taste good), God created nature to be a beautiful sight to our eyes, and He created relationship to be an emotional stimulation and community that we need. But that does not make experience the number one thing we should chase. Because before we are made as experiential beings, we are created in God’s image, purposed to worship him. How many people do we know (even Christian people) that are so desperately looking for stimulation that they go to God second? The verse in Romans does not condemn joy, it actually condones it, when I read it I get this awesome feeling that the kingdom of heaven has more to offer. I don’t think this verse is pushing us away from experiencing life, but I think that kingdom living is not just mere stimulants, but everlasting righteousness, peace, and joy that in turn changes everything about how we experience life. Look at my story again he loves his wife, like he actually loves his wife, but stimulation is gone so he looks elsewhere. He loves his son, but somewhere he got bored, and the TV was easier. His job is the one place of basically no stimulation, but he wants to give his son a comfortable experiential life, so he puts up with it. This past week I watched people all around me experience the Holy Spirit in crazy ways. I didn’t. What did that make me do? Well first I swore at God a lot, wondering why He wouldn’t show Himself to me if He actually loves me as much as He says(because obviously I understand the plan way better than he does). But you know, I have many wise friends, and I had a friend speak a ton of wisdom into my life this week. She essentially told me that too many people chase after experience instead of chasing after God. And you know what, that is full of so much truth. The enemy is amazing at making us idolize things we think are of God. But if I hunger for God to give me an experience that makes me feel better, instead of hungering for God, just as he is, then I am completely missing the point and idolizing my experience over the radical, wonderful, beautiful person of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You can try and live a life completely for comfort or experience, completely to fulfill your desires. But unless it is first God that you seek, you will never find that fulfillment. Nothing inside of yourself can save you from selfish desires. And that means that when the storm comes, and it will, nothing in yourself will save; your kids, your marriage, your job, your house, your addictions, your thoughts, your health, your life. Unless you are rooted and grounded in Christ first your desire will overtake you, because we were created to feel more, to experience more, we were created with a thirst that cannot be quenched. But love wins every time, Jesus’ love wins every single time. Are you sick of losing sight of what your heart truly desires? Are you finished with hurting those closest to you? Turn your eyes and desires to Him, and you will experience life like never before.
* If you want to hear the whole talk Judah Smith does on joy check it out here.