I am sure you know how a train of thought starts and interconnects in the sequence of ideas. One thought connects to another, to another, and eventually, you are a long way from your original thought. That happens to me all the time. It is amazing when it happens because you can discover many things!
I was reading an excellent post from a brother, named Sam Williamson. The message was entitled, “If Only . . .”! You know, if only I were better looking, or if only I could lose twenty pounds, or if only I had more money, if only I were taller or shorter or my nose looked different, if only I could get another job or have better co-workers, if only . . .
“It’s not that everything in our lives is wrong, we just wish some things could be a smidgen better. The problems are, those ‘If Only’s’ will never satisfy our most profound need.”
Williamson included a comment from Cynthia Hymel, a writer who lived in New York in the 1970’s. She knew actors while they were still busing tables and driving cabs, but she also knew them after they became famous. She wrote:
I pity celebrities. No I really do. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Barbara Streisand were once perfectly pleasant human beings. But now their wrath is awful.
You see, Sly, Bruce and Barbara wanted fame. They worked, they pushed, and the morning after each of them became famous, they wanted to take an overdose. Because that giant thing they were striving for, that something that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and happiness, had happened.
And they were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable. (The Village Voice, January 2, 1990)
We are wasting our time and being deceived by those “If only’s.”
“Sure, they may satisfy for a week or a month, but soon another ‘If only’ will raise its hoary head, and roar, and turn us howling and insufferable.”
I was watching one episode of “The Narnian Chronicles,” the visual version of my favorite books. This one was “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” There is one scene where young Lucy wanted to be beautiful, like her sister Susan. Suddenly, she was taken somewhere with her two brothers and oddly, Susan took her place! Then, astonishingly, Aslan appears and says,
“Lucy! What have you done, child?”
“I don’t know! But it was awful!”
“But you chose it. ”
“I didn’t mean to choose all that. I just wanted to be beautiful like Susan. That’s all!”
“You wished yourself away. With it, much more. Without you, your brothers and sister would not know about Narnia. You discovered it first, Lucy, remember? You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.
Then, in a Bible Study I attend on Wednesday nights, I read the first ten verses of II Corinthians chapter five:
We know that if the life we live here on earth is ever taken down like a tent, we still have a building from God. It is an eternal house in heaven that isn’t made by human hands. In our present tent-like existence we sigh, since we long to put on the house we will have in heaven. After we have put it on, we won’t be naked . . . as long as we are living in these bodies, we are living away from the Lord. Indeed, our lives are guided by faith, not by sight. We are confident and prefer to live away from this body and to live with the Lord.
Whoa! Ain’t the truth! We are so distressed in the life we are living. We wish we were healthier, wealthier, more beautiful, more popular, but as Paul continued to say:
Whether we live in the body or move out of it, our goal is to be pleasing to him. All of us must appear in front of Christ’s judgment seat. Then all people will receive what they deserve for the good or evil they have done while living in their bodies (II Corinthians 5:1-10)
There is something else we need:
Hidden in that message Williamson gave us, was this little line:
I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, he grants you your deepest wish and giggles merrily when you realize you want to kill yourself.
Nah, that ain’t it! The Lord is filled with much more love and mercy, than that.
“It is precisely his mercy that withholds so many of our ‘If only’ pleas. He knows our frame. He knows what Augustine proclaimed:
‘Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.’
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.