I have thought for a long time that people – including myself – are too easily satisfied. A growing sense of how satisfying God should be in my life only amplifies that conviction.
A few weeks ago I preached on Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” In light of what satisfies me all too often, that verse haunted me the week I was preparing that sermon. What and who do I love? Where does my mind wander in my unguarded moments? Why do I get up in the morning? Where do I find the motivation for my work?
I have heard people say that they have no regrets in their lives. Oh really? They don’t regret the way their life has been lived so far? How can people say that? What were they aiming for? I regret that I haven’t been a better Christian, husband, father and pastor. I don’t lie awake at night regretting my life. I don’t want to waste time fretting about what’s past, but ongoing shortcomings and sins remind me to be dissatisfied with my present condition. Again, I strive to be content, but not satisfied with my current life before God.
Dissatisfaction in the Christian life can take a nasty turn; that’s why I’m shooting for a holy dissatisfaction. Unnecessary regret and guilt over that which Christ has forgiven is not only pointless, but destructive. Dissatisfaction with the performance of others (which is often a projection of frustration with our own performance) can lead to a critical spirit and even bitterness.
I remember with, yes, regret, my critical spirit at many times in my life. Looking back, I can see that even though I was probably right in many of my criticisms, I had the wrong spirit. I wanted to be seen as being right as an end in itself. Studying without prayer and the cultivation of satisfaction in the grace of God in the glory of Christ leads to pride. This is what the Apostle Paul meant by “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1).
A holy dissatisfaction does tend project itself to others, but if it is from God, then it is a longing for others to value the right things, namely God Himself. Wanting company in the enjoyment of the good, beautiful and the true is a good thing. It is like the longing I had to share the beauty of Vancouver with my wife a couple of weeks ago (sorry to rub it in, Juanita).
When I’m singing a song in church that is wishy-washy – at best – I tend to find myself thinking, “There are so many wonderful songs we could be singing” rather than, “What a stupid song” (unless it’s really bad!). I hope this is a sign of maturity.
When I write about these things, I feel like a little kid because I’m such a short way down this road of finding satisfaction in God rather than created things. It’s a little embarrassing.
I started thinking about this dissatisfaction because of some John Piper messages I heard at the Refocus Conference a couple weeks ago. Listening to John Piper preach makes me feel small – at least until I listen for a while. At some point along the way, John Piper starts to look small and Jesus looks really, really big. The size of people and created things becomes dim and virtually irrelevant in the light of His glory. A holy dissatisfaction brings God-focused perspective to life.
I’m going to wrap up with a classic C.S. Lewis quote that I am beginning to understand more as the years go by:
"Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."