Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I’m grateful to Karl Faase who wrote on his Daily Nudge page a few years ago about Doug Coupland, a Canadian guy and novelist, and quite well-known. He works seven days-a-week, with no vacations.
He is quoted as saying: “I’ve never taken a holiday. To lie on a beach some place seems almost sinful. What’s the point of being around unless you’re working on something?”
He seems quite cynical about God and faith, and wrote once:
“My mother comes from a sour-faced family of preachers who from the 19th century to well into the 20th scoured the prairies thumping Bibles. Her parents tried to get away from that but unwittingly transmitted their values to my mother. My father’s family weren’t that different.”
He is not a believer in God. But what is interesting about Doug Coupland is that he coined the phrase “Generation X”, which he wrote in his book in 1991. Generation X refers to those who reached adulthood in the late 1980s.
He also wrote a book called Life after God, a collection of short stories of people raised without religion. At the end of the book he confesses his inner thoughts:
”My secret is I need God. I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving, to help me be kind as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I am beyond being able to love… Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we’ve missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.”
― Douglas Coupland, Life After God
These are very honest statements by a man who has a brilliant mind and a gift of writing. He does not claim to be a Christian, but has expressed something very powerful and has great insight.
I like his honesty: “My secret is I need God,” he said. How true for each of us. You need God, and so do I. You may well be thinking, I have already found happiness in my life. Why do I need to find a sense of purpose and happiness from the concept of a ‘divine being’? That’s a fair enough question.
You may be missing much
Many people enjoy financial wealth, a loving family, and few problems in life. However, no matter how much happiness you have right now, your life would be more fulfilling with God in it. Knowing God makes a huge difference. Think of it like this. Riding a tricycle seems fun to a child, but later if that child grows up and drives a Porsche, the tricycle seems pretty boring. You might think you’ve got all you’d ever want in life, but know that you might be saying that from the perspective of someone riding a tricycle. You could well be missing out on much more.
And so, have you ever noticed how the more we have, the more we need to have? The more we are loved, the more we need to be loved; the more we achieve, the greater our achievements need to be, etc.?
Can you remember what happened not long after you acquired something new? Life is like that, isn’t it? It’s never enough. Figuratively speaking, it is like my sense of “taste” — the older I get, the more spice I need on my food because nothing “tastes” strong enough any more, and it seems to be getting worse the longer I live.
It is just as the wise teacher in the Bible once acknowledged, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing” (Ecclesiastes1:8). The wise teacher was King Solomon, perhaps the most successful person encountered in the Old Testament narrative. It was King Solomon who was renowned for his great wisdom,“surpassing all who were around” him, but who discovered that”this too is vanity”. He even compared the search for enough wisdom to an ever-elusive chasing “after the wind”.
It was also King Solomon, after “making a life-long test of pleasure,” who once confessed, “What use is it?” And after making for himself the greatest “gardens and parks” and taking possession of great “herds and flocks” and gathering for himself “silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of provinces,” Solomon admitted, “All that my hands have done and the toil spent in doing it … all is vanity and chasing after the wind …there is nothing really to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:16, 2:1-8).
Life without God is never enough! Why? The Christian answer is grounded in something fundamental about ourselves. That we are made in God’s image, and are never complete until we are completed by our union with God.
As the Bible affirms, “God himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things … in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24, 28)
Perhaps nothing more validates the Bible than the fact of our restless human spirit!
- How much wealth would be enough?
- How much prestige?
- How much knowledge?
- How many trips to exotic places?
- How much romantic passion?
What makes better sense to you?
Can any of these things ever be enough to satisfy the deep sense of incompleteness that is within us?
We need God because without Him we will never be satisfied. We are incomplete without union with God. It is as if there is a God-shaped vacuum in every one of us, only to be filled by the life of God in us!
We can learn this lesson sooner, or spend the rest of our lives learning it in frustration later. What makes better sense to you?
I can recall reading the testimony of a wealthy and successful man in Atlanta. The title of his address was “Take the short cut.” He described a life of wanting it all, and getting it (!), and the utter despair at waking up one morning to the harsh reality that all of his goals had been accomplished and he was still incomplete and “empty” inside.
What would be worse, struggling to reach our goals in the hope of finding an abundant life, or actually accomplishing all of our goals and even more than we could have ever dreamed of accomplishing, and discovering that it is still not enough?
The man was on the brink of suicide when he discovered the truth of Augustine’s discovery, that “my heart is restless until I find my rest in Thee” (St. Augustine). Thankfully, he tried one more thing. He sought after God.