Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I asked the question, Is this all there is? Talking about Peggy Lee song back in 1969 “Is this all there is?” A sense of, What is going on in my life? Is there anything more?
Psychologist Philip Cushman writes: “…the empty life is filled up with consumer goods, calories, experiences, politicians, romantic partners, and skilled therapists….the empty self experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning… a lack of personal conviction and worth, and it embodies the absences as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger.” No wonder we cry out for meaning.
Our Inner Restlessness
There’s an inner restlessness that we can’t put our finger on—and yet we know there has to be more than wealth, family, long life, the simple life, philosophy. But do you know God has not made us to find rest in those things. So we have songs that we know or we sing about that search for a meaning we can’t find. You may have listened to the Man of La Mancha and the popular song “The Impossible Dream”. You kind of get goose bumps when you hear old Don Quixote singing about the unreachable star. Why?
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far – “The Impossible Dream”
Part of it is that we inherently know that it is a quest for something beyond the things that can be provided for us in this life, in which ultimate satisfaction resides. Or, at a pop-culture level, you could be listening to Bono and U2 singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Everybody knows that quest because God has made us to seek for ultimate satisfaction, but he has also made us so that our ultimate satisfaction can only be found in him. Real peace is only found in Jesus Christ, and establishing a personal relationship with him.
Where is your satisfaction found today? Is it in going to the right school? Marrying the right person and settling in the right neighbourhood and living the right kind of life? Is it in the abundance of wealth? Is it in social status? Is it in having the perfect family? Is it living a long and blessed life? Is it bouncing your own grandchildren on your knee and seeing them married to the right kind of people? Or is it in God? Is it just in God and him alone? Have you known the depth of satisfaction in him in the deepest heartbreaks of your life?
Why Do Many People Feel Unsatisfied?
Back in February 1992, a Saulwick-Herald Poll found that, on a scale of one to 10, Australians rated their present life at 6.78. This seems to be a very low score for a wonderful country like Australia. Why are so many people feeling so empty and unsatisfied? Many people have searched their heart and found nothing. Internally they are empty. Spiritually they have a vacuum. There are people who have looked into themselves and found the horror of finding there is nothing there. What do you do when you discover a vacuum within? There are many people who need to know the answer to inner emptiness.
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When Rev. Dr Gordon Moyes graduated from Melbourne University many years ago, one of Australia’s great explorers and Antarctic scientists, Dr Philip Law, spoke of his own adventurous life in the frozen wastelands. This is what he said to the students: “Seek adventurous living. There is very little connection between materialistic possessions and true happiness. Do not attempt to find satisfaction in a job simply for the material benefit it may bring. Seek for life, real life!”
Thomas Merton was a Franciscan monk and he wrote this prayer which I think is very helpful:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end,
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.