This morning I was watching The Today Show while eating my bowl of cereal. Jane Pauley was reporting on a story about a women who found herself in a life working at Yellowstone National Park. The cost of finding herself was early retirement from a corporate job, divorcing her husband, and moving away from her four grown kids. This woman was essentially being celebrated for her journey and paying the price to find happiness for herself.
The thing about deception is that it’s so easy to believe. Otherwise people wouldn’t buy into the thing that is leading them in a bad way. There isn’t anything that is much more deceptive than something that has “me” or “self” as the focus. Look at Satan’s temptation of Jesus. “Jesus, feed yourself. Jesus, jump off a building to see if the angels will catch you. Jesus, worship me and I’ll give you everything.” As 1 John 2:15-17 puts it, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
As I watched this story unfold, a very cool yet odd thing happened. It’s as though I could feel God’s frustration and sadness well up inside of me. Frustration at the fact that someone would leave their family for such selfish reasons. Sadness that it was to follow her own needs, to seek value in God’s creation, and not God Himself.
A handful of verse sprang to mind all at once. Let’s see if I can remember them all.
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Romans 1:25 (NKJV)
Isn’t this essentially what this person did? Her journey toward finder herself began as she was overwhelmed in her life as a wife, mother, and employee. The typical American wanna have it all, wanna do it all, because it’s all about me. To alleviate her stress she went on a trip to a national park on a trip to study/observe wolves. Just something to get out, to get away. She said she was hooked from that point on. The more she pursued this path the more she wanted that to be her life, not her husband, her family, her job. She began to worship the creation rather than the Creator. As with all things like this, the creation she was primarily worship was herself, she who is made in the image of God.
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26 (NKJV)
This person left her husband to pursue this life on her own. She made a choice. She said that her husband says that he is probably the only man in America who has lost his wife to a national park. Like 14:26 is about following Jesus, being a disciple, and the cast that can be involved. Just for clarification, Jesus is speaking in extremes. He isn’t telling people to hate their families, but to love Him so much that it would seem as if we hated them. The only thing worth cause this kind of division is Jesus. I’ve lost friends because I’m a Christian. They made the choice to leave me. Instead of following them, I followed Jesus. And here, this person is being celebrated for doing what it took to find herself. Something is very, very wrong here.
39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 (NKJV)
If a person wants to find themselves apart from God, they may be satisfied in the short term. But they will eventually come to see what they are apart from God; still incomplete, still empty, and worse, a sinner. A person who sets out on the goal to find themselves in order to find fulfillment, wholeness, completeness, has been deceived because the destination of self to find those treasures is the wrong destination. I believe that God has wired into everyone of us this desire to find more. Each of us is born with a sense of incompleteness. God wants us to go looking to fill this need so that we will seek Him. He is the only being in the universe that can fulfill it. If we want to find our life we will discover that it is already lost, because we are lost. But if we lose that, if we ditch that and seek our Creator, we will find what it is we seek; justification, salvation, completeness, wholeness, purpose, fulfillment. None of it will have to do with our families or jobs. Those things will all change because we have changed, or rather have been changed.
Believer, non-believer, hear God’s heart. He made you. He loves you. He created you to have a relationship with Him both in this life and the one to come. Everything you seek to fulfill in your life, every impulse, every unmet desire, can only be met in Him. Anything you might get from sleeping around, shooting into your arm, snorting, smoking, drinking, any hobby your pursue, any feeling or need that any of those things might fulfill, can only be fulfilled through Jesus. All that you need to do is give up trying your own way and go His way. he is inviting you to do so. Jesus says things like come after me, follow me, believe me, trust me. Why not quit what you are doing now and try that? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.