Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wanting What We Cannot Have

Dear Pamela,

Why do we always want what we cannot have?

It seems to be our sinful nature that leads us down paths that we be would be prudent to avoid:    food, drink, consumerism, and other carnal desires.  

What do all of these things have in common for us?  We think they will satisfy some deep need inside of us.  

A fleeting thought creates an impulse that a new gadget will keep us occupied for a little while so we can escape the boredom and mundane existence we are trudging through.  But it doesn’t deliver, we simply get sick of being plugged in, exposed to the world.  One more drink, we think, might numb the pain but all we end up with is a rotten headache and a night of fitful sleep.  One more donut might make the hurt disappear for a second, but not so. . . we end up feeling guilty and our blood sugar skyrockets (and then crashes!).  What about all the other temptations that we succumb to that really cause havoc and destruction?  We try to justify our behavior but at the heart of it is a simple issue: we are broken and in need.  Things, substances, people. . . they cannot fill the hole inside of our hearts.  Only our great companion, Jesus, can fill the gap inside of us.  When we reach that point in the trail where it says, “Closed,” what then shall we do?  Push through as if we don’t see the sign?  Go around it and ignore the warning?  Obviously there is danger ahead and if we would take time to trust our instincts, our friends’ advice and admonition, our prayer life. . . perhaps we could save ourselves from falling into the chasm that lies ahead.  

It’s easier said than I done, I think.  We are stubborn human creatures who don’t like to listen all that much!  I guess they call that “original sin.”



Dear Amy...  

Ah!  Why do we want what we cannot have?  That is the question that is at the core of much of humanity’s angst!  And in many ways capitalistic society depends upon it!  It is a question that helps us understand the tension in much of the holiday season!

The world has always (and increasingly so) been in the business of stimulating desires for everything that is not “of” God.  Think about marketing techniques.  Advertisers are in the business of making us yearn for something we didn’t even know that we wanted!  Junk food is made with ingredients that make us want more of the same junk.  Marketing tempts us, and the victory of temptation rests in its power to claim our attention.  That is, we pay more attention to what we don’t have than to what we have been given so freely by God.  

I have been told by folks much wiser than me that our best defense against sin is focusing upon Christ -- not trying to resist the temptation with our will.  In our resistance we are still focusing upon the temptation, not Christ.  

The great news is that God has placed within each of us God’s fervent desire for us.  This desire, which is of God, stimulates our hunger for God!  M.Scott Peck refers to a “God Shaped Vacuum” that is satisfied only by the presence of God.  It is a void...a hunger...a “hole in the soul.”  Since it is a vacuum, it draws in whatever we are seeing as our “comfort.”  Yet since it is God-shaped, nothing but God completely fills it.  

So... in simplest terms... perhaps we want what we think we can’t have because God made us to want God, who says to us:  In Christ, you have me!  St. Augustine says it best: Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find themselves in thee.    



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