A side note for the readers: This blog started as a way for me to document my journey through the book Shattered Dreams. I thought it would be a way for me to quickly jot down some thoughts and if you read it, perhaps have some small impact on you. What it's turning into is a long winded narrative of my thoughts and prayers to Papa. If you want to continue to read, just be forewarned it will probably get more long winded and more about my thoughts and prayers as they pour out. I plan on rambling around. I plan on following the leading of the Spirit as I journey toward joy. Consider yourself warned in advance of potential boredom.
God's Goodness and Our Happiness.
From Shattered Dreams:
"If given the choice, we would prefer to keep whatever happiness we've already found. Like the child who never wants to grow beyond the wide-eyed excitement of Christmas morning, we like to remain naively happy. Keep the blessings coming. Keep the good times rolling. When we signed on to the Christian life, that's what we though was the deal. We do what we're told, and God stacks blessings under the tree."
Dr. Crabb says this is rooted in a strange blend of a child's optimism and a fool's arrogant spirit of entitlement. Things will go well for us; they're supposed to. Other people get cancer and suffer through divorce and lose their jobs and experience a friends betrayal.
We give God thanks when things go well....when we get a negative report from the doctor, when we do well on a test, get a promotion or close a deal....Of course we say "God is good". Why wouldn't we? Blessings are flowing and things are as they should be.
We should celebrate the good things in life. Enjoy our family, good food, promotions, good health and all the rest. But according to Dr. Crabb, as happy people, we face a subtle danger. We tend to gloat. We praise God for the blessings publicly while privately we tend to think of them as our due for doing all the right things. We tend to slip into a concern for the less fortunate that carries a mood or attitude of judgment. "If they were more like me, they would have the blessings I have".
Man, have I ever walked down that path. When I was making money like I never dreamed before, I gave talks, speeches and sermons about God's plan for abundance. They were basically sermons that should have been entitled "Do what I do and you will have what I have". Uh that smells pretty bad right now. I am embarrassed and ashamed. Not about the truths that were communicated because I think I did a good job of showing a balanced presentation of God and His plan for us with regards to finance.....but I am embarrassed of my private attitude. This is doing the right things for the wrong reasons.....I didn't really want to help, I wanted to be thought of as successful and higher than the average person......thats what I am embarrassed of.
Dr. Crabb continues:
"Unhappy folks face their own unique temptations. Publicly they tell the more fortunate how glad they are for all who are so blessed; privately they wish the happy person's path would hit a ditch. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. No command is more difficult to obey. Beneath the surface we lament anothers joy, ( the sin of jealousy) and feel good when a much blessed friend has reason to cry.(The sin of smugness, a close cousin of jealousy)."
Lets face it, when the tables are turned, my friends loss is my gain...if not in the physical sense, but certainly in private where I can gloat a bit at his misfortune. Sitting here on the receiving end of five years of economic chaos and loss, I confess it feels pretty nice when someone with more suffers a bit of what I have the last few years. I hate this. I want to hurt for them as I hurt for myself...but its not in me. Their loss is my gain.....stupid, sinful and childish....but true......
This is changing somewhat though.....a few weeks ago, a good friend applied for a job he did not need but wanted. He was delighting himself in Papa's love and I felt sure he would get this job. It was a 50% cut in pay but it was doing something he loved. He survived a strenuous application process and was one of three selected to interview. Long story but in no way should he have gotten that far due to time constraints placed on him the other candidates did not have to comply with. The interview went well over three days. All indications were positive.....and a week later he was told he did not get the job.....when he called to tell me, I was dumb struck. I was excited for him to get this job and when he did not, I think I was more disappointed than he was.....in truth, this is the first time in my life I can remember being hurt for someone else on something like this. It was not a big thing. There was no physical or financial pain....but it was a hope that was dashed. And I grieved for him. Slowly my heart is turning from stone to flesh.
Dr. Crabb again: "Happy people do not love well. Joyful people do. Thats why happiness, the pleasent feeling that pleasant circumstances generate must be taken away in order to be replaced with joy. Happy people rarely look for joy. They're quite content with what they have. The foundation of their life consists of the blessings they enjoy. Although they may care about those less fortunate and do great things to help them, their central concern is keeping what they have. they haven't been freed to pursue a greater dream. That's why they cannot love well. In His severe mercy, God takes away the good to create an appetite for the best, and then eventually He satisfies the new appetite, liberating them to love".
This concept is hard to grasp. The good is sacrificed for the best. In business this makes sense, I've done it. Passed on something good so I could have something better. In life and in the spirit, its much harder to do. Sacrificing the good is often painful. And the better thing hoped for is very often far in the distance. Do I have what it takes to be patient....to wait....to hope.....to keep my appetite for Him whetted and sharp?
Yes I do.....as I write the question, the answer springs forth like new sprouts of corn in a field. Fresh life rises above the surface and the answer is yes.....a thousand times over, yes.....my spirit longs for Him.....as long as it takes, I will wait....until He satisfies my every longing.....until my only longing is for Him.....I will wait. Now my prayer changes to the cry of the ancient believers....Maranatha.....Come quickly Lord!
If I am satisfied with the merely good....health, relationships, good kids, great jobs, I will never hunger for His best. I will never worship. Only broken people worship. My unbroken self, the one that enjoys the blessings more than the Blesser, says thanks to
God like a shopper says thanks to a clerk......I will not be that shopper of spiritual blessings.....I will be....I am a broken worshiper.