Most of us spend considerable time and energy searching for the Big One, that is, whatever it is we think will bring lasting joy and satisfaction. We dream about it, sweat over it; even do without other, smaller things in its pursuit. For we know once we have achieved, possessed, owned, romanced, or conquered the Big One, our lives, once and for all, will be happy and fulfilling. This is true of most humans, not-just three-year-olds at Easter egg hunts.
We desperately do not want to live our lives unloved, unknown, and feeling unalive. We search for meaning, pleasure, esteem, recognition, and freedom. These are not bad goals. The problem is how we try to achieve these goals, what path we take to attain them. We see the Big One, and we’re sure it will bring us happiness. It might be in a pile of money, in the heart of a future spouse, on a nameplate on a desk, on the eighteenth green of a posh golf course, or, for that matter, anything that represents success in terms the world understands.
Proverbs 14:12 addresses our quest for fulfillment: “There is a way that seems right to men, but in the end it leads to death,” which includes perpetual longing, emptiness, and futility. It is the feeling of a three-year-old in the giant green field, holding an empty basket with fake green grass stuck between two of your six teeth. The pursuit of the Big One has been not only a waste of time but also an utter embarrassment. You end up hating the person who attained the Big One, even though you would rather not. You just can’t stand the way she dances around the oak tree.
The “way that seems right to a man” might be called the broad path. It is full of all the pleasures of this world. Here you find money, sex, power, which promise happiness but deliver deep emptiness. What seems so certain to fulfill you turns out to be an illusion. In the end the price you pay is your soul.
God desires more for our lives. He wants us to travel the narrow path, which brings fulfillment and meaning. The Bible tells us that those who follow this road must be committed to self-sacrifice, delayed gratification, responsibility, and integrity.
Part of the problem facing Christians is embracing the promises of God. We too often mistakenly think of Him as the Great Killjoy, performing acts of magic, complete with thunder and fanfare, to keep us miserably on our knees. Actually, though, Jesus said that a life committed to following Him will bring joy, freedom, intimacy, and genuine satisfaction. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” and “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 10:10, 15:10-11). Jesus Christ is the real One. When you pursue the Big One, your pleasure is fleeting, your disappointment is sure. But when you trust in Christ, your life finds true joy and purpose.
Excerpted from “The God of Second Chances” by Steve Arterburn