Thursday, March 7, 2013

Better than Life

Since Sunday the little weather forecast icon on my homepage predicted rain. It is frequently wrong and I should know not to trust this little gadget. All week long, however, I planned each coming day with the assumption that it would be raining. We've been wanting to go hiking --the greenery is calling us-- but instead I made arrangements to go to a museum on a day when nothing else was scheduled. It was a nice time, but museums are best on rainy days and hikes are nicest on sunny days. Last night, I finally grew tired of my lying weather icon and planned to take my kids on a surprise outdoor adventure today.

But we woke up to rain. Not pleasant streams of rain, but dreary drizzle and gloom. Bummer.

With less motivation to get going on the day, our morning was rather sluggish. Jon was getting ready to leave town for a couple days, so breakfast and chores with the kiddos were procrastinated and I hung around Jon for a bit hoping to spend a moment together. He was distracted (or focused on leaving, rather, which was distracting him from me!) and I eventually found my way to my little desk downstairs. I sat there, grasping for something. Something to motivate me, something to satisfy.

It's not that cancelled plans are a big deal, or that I felt overlooked, or that the day was dreary. It was just a confrontation with disappointment, though mild, that brought feelings of emptiness. It was a reminder that I can so easily put my hope and expectation for satisfaction in something or someone other than Jesus Christ. And each time, sooner or later, I discover the futility of those pursuits.

Isn't it true, thought, that we look to all kinds of things to fulfill us? It might be a spouse, a person to love and fulfill our needs. Or maybe a career to excel at and give us a sense of accomplishment and success. It could be in the acquisition of things, a beautiful house, stylish clothes. Or physical beauty. Some look to their children for fulfillment, others believe that they would be fulfilled if they only could have children. Some hope for satisfaction in movements and trends, maybe educational or religious ideals, or perhaps healthy living or an identity in some sub-culture.

Oh, but these things are obvious. We might fully realize that we look to someone or something with far too great expectation for fulfillment. We might even know that these pursuits for happiness are futile, yet we find it difficult to readjust our expectations and to let go of something we --should I say it?-- worship.

In the end, if we are looking to anything but to Jesus Christ to meet our deepest need for acceptance, for joy, for fulfillment, for whatever, we are guilty of idolatry. Our days are spent with fleeting satisfaction at best, a nagging sense of disappointment as a constant, a realization of a life wasted in the end, and guilt before Holy God.

But like today, our misplaced expectations are not always that obvious. Sometimes you just sit down for a moment and feel the emptiness, the yuck of nothingness. Other times, it's anger over things not going our way, days falling apart, keys lost, children disobedient, financial burdens unexpected, dashed pride... The list goes on.

I am thankful for the gentle reminder today. As I sat at my little desk this morning, Jon about to leave and the kids gathering about with empty bellies, I reached for my tattered study Bible and flipped to Psalms. "Something, God. Give me something," I pleaded inwardly, knowing that my moment was going to be brief. I flipped to a spot that had a slip of paper with some notes scribbled out, and before me was what I needed to read and to hear from God...

God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for you,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
 To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

Psalm 63: 1-5

Only He can satisfy. He created me to worship Him, and nothing else can fill my thirst, my deep yearning. This world and all that is in it is a dry and weary land where there is no water. But God invites us into relationship with Him and shows us some of His power and His glory. And His lovingkindness is better than life, better than anything life has to offer. And I want my lips to praise Him and to joyfully speak of Him --Lord! Loose my lips!-- all through the day and for all of my days. Indeed, He will satisfy my soul.

It was kind of the Lord to gently strip away my misplaced expectations this morning. I pray that delighting in Him would be the work of my life.


The day progressed fine after that. After school, my kids spent all afternoon creating games, and I used my time to cook and bake six recipes in all. Form the kitchen I could hear them playing with their collection of small plastic animals. I overheard discussions about who would play which role, who would live where, and whether or not "Sage" was a boy name or a girl name. I laughed when they played a game called "fashion disaster" and discussed summer plans with Olivia when the boys' silliness became too wild for her. I felt thankful for the fun times they all have together, these years when imaginative games and silly dress up competitions keep everyone happy. Later, as the soup simmered and the muffins cooled,  Andrew and I talked through some questions he's been having, his maturity impressing me. Now mind you, he had spent most of the afternoon in his undies, changing from one ridiculous costume to the next. 

After dinner, the promise of a movie motivated everyone to shower and brush up quickly, and I received the help I needed in cleaning up the kitchen. 

It was a rather nice day in the end.


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