The Things We Hold

Posted: May 15, 2008 in Meaningless, Personal, Rants, Tangents

Today I write with a heavy but joyful heart. Today, I am officially without a grandparent from my side of the family. While Heatherly and I still have one grandmother and one grandfather, in the past two week we have lost my dad’s dad (Dale McDaniel) and my mom’s mom (Sarah Woodruff). We have also lost my cousin Grant Hinds to early and in a tragic way. Death has been ever present. We mourn, we weep and yet for each we are grateful and excited for their new and eternal life. For these, time is no more, only eternity.

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I read a chapter in The Way To Love by Anthony De Mello today that helped me cope with these losses even more. It is a chapter on how we hold onto things, worldly things. We seek for happiness in so many skewed and self serving ways and yet all we find is heartache. We try to hold onto what we cannot control; time, money, jobs, things. Of course, we think we can hold onto them but this is why we cannot be happy. In truth, as De Mello points out, we struggle because we have defined happiness in terms of short bursts of pleasure. As such, we find that everything from homeruns, sex, movies, food, honor, acknowledgment, praise to many other short term worldly things, are the basis for our happiness and emptiness when they are not present. As such, we go through life looking for experiences that bring us bursts of pleasure and live for the moments where we may hide from the turmoil of our existence. We attach ourselves in an uncontrollable manner to things that our culture, our friends and, yes, the evil one has claimed to be the sources of happiness. Even God can become nothing more than a short term burst of pleasure. Don’t believe me? How often do you find yourself calling on his name in the midst of “happiness” (otherwise defined in the world as short bursts of pleasure) or do we more often than not call on him when we are “unhappy” (or not in the midst of our short bursts of pleasure). Oh how we chase after the god of happiness, the idol of pleasure. Can we imagine happiness without money, sex, a home, a wife, children, cars, in being alone? If these were removed from your life, could you survive, let alone be happy.

Yet, God has something greater to offer. Something that demands we open our grip on pleasure and embrace the hope of our Savior. It is in our letting go of things we cannot control that we are able to find happiness. It is in our letting God be God and conforming to His will, that we may find joy in mourning, happiness in death and wholeness in brokenness. One of my favorite songs in Charlie Hall’s Marvelous Light, “Sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting, by the grave you’ve risen victoriously!” This is happiness. When Christ open up the grip he had on life and gave his life open handedly to God. God allowed us to take his life so that all may have eternal life through his resurrection and so that the power of his kingdom reign might reign over our lives. In letting go of this life, Christ was restored to the joy and happiness of the throne room he was called to reign from.

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So I confess my own attachments in this world. Here are the things that I believe will make me happy but fail all too often:

My wife
My children
My house
Money/Wealth
Self-idolatry/Self-dependance (that is the belief that me, the sinner/debtor, who got himself into sinfulness/debt can somehow get myself out of my life situation.)
Ability to quote scripture
Knowledge
Theology
A stronger prayer life
Praise of people
Winning
Success by this world’s standards
Preaching
Popularity
Sex
Vegging in front of the TV
Vanilla Ice Cream
Bringing someone to Christ
Fixing people
Better Time-management
Influence
Getting up early but not at the cost of sleeping more
Growing a church (as if I can do that)

I could sit here all day and come up with more stuff. Help us Lord!

What are you attached to? What keeps you from experiencing true joy? What do you find mere bursts of pleasure in?

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Comments
  1. Anna says:

    Les,
    Please accept my sympathy on losing Sarah. She is so linked to my memories of Granny and “your side” of the family that I always felt as if she was “ours” too.
    Not a week has gone by that I don’t get choked up thinking of Granddaddy’s lessons, love and humor.
    We were so priviledged to have such a wonderful man in our lives.
    Big hugs, Cuz!

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