Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why don't I get what I want?

What do you want? Are you getting it? Do you have a secret frustration because you ain’t getting what you want? I truly hope that you are content—that within you lies the peace that comes with knowing your name and living it.

To be honest I struggle a lot with an inner dissatisfaction. Some friends have told me that I’m just experiencing a mid-life crisis. My answer to that well intentioned insight is I was born in a mid-life crisis. I secretly want to be a participant in everything, and never only remain on the sidelines. This can be a positive trait because it definitely helps breed a broad base of knowledge that, for one thing, helps one effectively socialize with a large cross-section of people. My problem is I’m not satisfied to be a participant; I have to be the best participant. And that kind of ambition will turn the sunny climes of opportunity into the stormy gloom of discontentment, every time.

Unless you’re James Bond, you simply are not going to be remarkable at everything, or let’s face it, even good at everything. My problem has been I have convinced myself that isn’t true. Consequently, I have wasted a great deal of time trying to overcome my weaknesses, pursue impossible dreams (yes, despite what my dear friend Don Quixote might sing, some dreams are impossible), while overlooking or qualifying the successes that have rewarded my few strengths.

As I’ve aged, the Lord has patiently taught me things to grow me out of this immaturity. For example, I learned I don’t have to be the best, average is okay. More importantly, I recently learned the need to focus on my strengths instead of weaknesses—to take advantage of the community God has established around me, and willingly delegate my weaknesses; why should I feel rotten because a plumber can do a job that he is an expert at in fifteen minutes, that I might, if I’m lucky and can afford the gas for the seventeen trips to the hardware store, take a whole day to finish. Good grief, Bruce, call the plumber in to do the job, and you go pursue your strengths.

Yesterday, the Lord got me thinking about all this at a slightly different angle. The fact that I don’t get some things I want isn’t because A) God is raining on my parade, or B) I don’t deserve them, or C) they aren’t actually good things; the problem is what I want is not what I should want.

I started this off giving a clue to one side of what I mean. If you don’t know who you really are—that is, what God created you to be—then you don’t know our name, and you’re trying to live under an assumed name. That’s bad for a lot of reasons, but it most certainly means you will want those things your alias wants, not what you want. And guess what? You’ll never be content.

But that’s still not exactly what I learned yesterday. As a Christian, you are first and last a kingdom dweller—Jesus is your King. Consequently, if you desire what your King desires--if you want what He wants--you will always get what you want—you will be content--because that is the way it is meant to be.

One should immediately see by this that seeking the King’s wants and knowing our true name and then wanting what that name desires are all inextricably intertwined. God has not created you to be a mindless robot, but a being who ultimately lives intimately with Him. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “I tell you the solemn truth,the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing,and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified [praised] in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”[NET]

If we really believed this, should hell and high waters rise, or others violently oppose us, or people crap on our good reputation, or other’s get the limelight or rewards or accolades we might genuinely deserve, or others seemingly experience a better life (an illusion 99.999999999% of the time)than us, we would remain satisfied and at peace within ourselves.

Why don’t we believe this? Primarily because even though we who love King Jesus are truly dwellers of God’s eternal kingdom—like, right now--that kingdom has not yet fully come; we remain also in an opposing kingdom that has been defeated but not completely destroyed. And that dark kingdom constantly bombards us with quite reasonable and palatable sales pitches; some of these come-ons are so close to the truth that it is difficult to discern the counterfeit from the real McCoy, and we often succumb, and yes, end up dissatisfied. I for one remain pretty gullible in my immaturity, and that results in the majority of discontentment I experience.

The first thing we must do is understand that it isn’t first about us but about the kingdom. The second thing we need to know is that walking in God’s kingdom is about faith: God created a unique us for a unique and eternal purpose in His kingdom, and God is faithful to achieve that purpose; therefore He will see to our purpose, our good conscience, our needs, and our wants as we live it all out in trust of His faithfulness.

How was Saint Paul able to honestly confess, “I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.”? Because Paul wanted what God wanted. How do I know this? Because of what Paul said next: “I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.” [NET]

Living by faith with God in His kingdom is a safe and satisfying place to be; in fact, it is our eternal salvation. And if our intent remains on God’s kingdom intent, then what we want will be what we should want, and we will never be wanting.


jeff said...

I know my ultimate destiny - to spend eternity shoveling horse droppings on Mother Theresa's roses. I will be the greatest rose fertilizer in eternity. People will come from light years around to marvel at my skill and talent - and at the Lord's wisdom and love for giving me that skill. I won't be disappointed - I will be overjoyed at finding my place!