Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones sang, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” It could well be the anthem of this generation as it sums up the never satiated hunger for something more.
The other day I was praying for a friend and I sensed the Lord reminding me of two Words he had powerfully spoken to me one morning. The first was in the early hours of the morning when I was half asleep and had no ability to resist the voice of his Spirit. He simply said, “Andrew, the greatest gift you have to give to people is yourself.” Later that morning as I was having a prayer time and I was contemplating the meaning of this Word, again I sensed the Spirit saying, “Andrew, all I want of you is to be present to yourself, present to others and present to me.” Obviously God was simply speaking in my language the Two Great Commandments of loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. These Words were spoken to me some eight or so years ago and I have sought to re-arrange the trajectory of my life accordingly. But again, even as I was speaking these words to my friend I felt the Spirit seeking to remind me that I too needed yet again to bring my life into further re-alignment with these Words.
The next day at a time of prayer and Bible study with my wife and another friend, during our time of prayer I found myself looking at my mobile phone and thinking to myself, “It won’t be long and my contract will be up and I can get a new phone.” I began to think of what features I might desire in this new phone, even though my present phone does everything I could possibly want and more. I then began to think to myself, “Why on earth would I even want a new phone when my present phone does everything I need? This is simply madness.”
The week before at a pub when I was with John, I had been too tired to really offer him my full attention and he had noticed. He had asked me at the time what was wrong and then later sent me a text message enquiring whether or not he had said or done something to offend me. As I thought about this I realised that I had failed to be present to John and I began to ask myself why. As I became more present to myself I realised that part of the reason why I was tired was yet again I had allowed myself to fall into the all too easy “Messiah Complex” that is my natural default mode and I had willingly sought to take on board issues and concerns of others that were not my responsibility. Yes, it was okay to listen as people shared their struggles, fears and hang ups but it wasn’t my job to save them. Secondly, I had found myself losing sight of the inherent uniqueness of John and instead of being concerned with treating him with the dignity of being made in God’s image, I had begun to think of how slow his response to the Gospel had been so far and maybe that there might be others out there that I could be spending time with who will respond more quickly and therefore enhance my reputation as a missionary.
So what has this got to do with satisfaction?
Over the last few weeks I have also been deeply aware of the lack of satisfaction in the lives of so many I talk with. I have spoken to people who struggle to love their spouses. One man is convinced he would be happy if his wife had a different hair colour. Many others I speak to all have different reasons why their spouses are just not good enough or suitable enough. Some of their reasons are not as trivial as the first mentioned man, but nonetheless, it would seem that deep down they are not convinced that God has given them a good gift as the Bible states, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22
Then there are others who feel deeply dissatisfied because the job they have or the work they do isn’t producing enough money or doesn’t garner enough recognition from others. Certainly I know in my own journey, I was hoping successful Christian ministry was going to be my ticket to recognition and fulfilment. And then there are others who I meet and listen to who are convinced that when God heals a certain area of their life, be it emotional or physical then at last they will be satisfied or happy. And so they chase after this counsellor, healer, programme, book and anyone or anything that might somehow provide relief from the itch that refuses scratching.
But this is where there is such a brilliance in God’s Word to me. His Word to me challenged the very basis and motivation of what I was doing and what I was seeking. As Jesus made clear to the Samaritan woman, “All who drink from this well will still get thirsty.” I remember quite clearly when ministry for me seemed the most powerful and successful, even when the Holy Spirit was manifesting in healings and salvations in services I was leading and yet I would still be feeling empty and dissatisfied inside. Even when all that I had sought and strived for had seemingly started to materialise, satisfaction somehow was eluding me.
Again, this Word from God turns things upside down. Instead of discovering what I was looking for beyond where I was or in some person, dream or hope in the future God was telling me quite clearly that everything I need and desire is with me and within me now. I won’t find some deeper level of fulfilment or satisfaction in some successful future ministry or when I gain a touch more healing in my life. I won’t find it in some new material acquisition or person, no matter how exciting and charismatic they might seem. No, the God who is with me and for me, who works all things together for my good offers me the fullness of himself in every situation he brings me into and in every person he draws across my path. The God who gave himself so fully in Jesus, who offered his very life in order that I might have life, calls me to offer myself fully even for those who may never respond simply because they are made in his image and are objects of his love.
Surely it is enough to simply love God and love those who he brings to us? Surely if we are failing to love then everything else we are striving for, Christian or otherwise is meaningless?