Summary: Shaping lives of satisfaction in response to God’s blessings and call to generosity.
I think it is fair to say that we have all experienced restlessness rather frequently in our lives. Sometimes we get restless waiting in line at the grocery store. Or maybe we get restless when we’ve got an appointment and the laundry isn’t quite finished drying. Perhaps we experience restlessness when we have something important to do the next day and we just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. And I think it’s fair to say when we get restless, we tend to stay restless for a while, as one thing always seems to lead to another.
Remember the story about the up-and-coming entrepreneur who was opening the door of his sleek new Jaguar when a truck roared by, hit it, and ripped the door off its hinges? The police quickly arrived at the scene and found the man jumping up and down in the street. He was shrieking to anyone and everyone who would listen about the horrible damage done to his precious automobile.
The stunned audience looked on as the police began talking to the man. “You wheeler-dealers are all so materialistic!” began the investigating officer, shaking his head in bewilderment. “You make me sick!”
“What’s your problem?” the driver quickly snapped back.
“You’re so worried about your precious Jag,” said the cop, “that you appear not to have noticed that your left arm was ripped off!”
“Oh no!” bellowed the man as he looked down at the grisly stump where his arm had been a few minutes before. “Where’s my Rolex?!?”
We often get so caught up in the mundane and the materialistic that we miss the “big picture.” Saint Augustine’s words of so many years ago are still quite true today, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.” And yet, so often we seem to get restless in worry about fleeting matters. In recent years, we have witnessed a number of devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires. Even now a vast and costly wildfire ravages the forests around Los Angeles. Natural disasters remind us that everything in this world is temporary. This is why Jesus tells us to “Take care!...for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Yet our culture is constantly telling us that this is not true. The result is restlessness in our hearts. Despite the fact that we believe and trust in Jesus and know his words to be true, we still find ourselves devoting much of our time, talents, and resources to the acquisition of more stuff. We say that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, but we live as if they do.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Restless Leg Syndrome. This is a condition in which one has twitches and contractions in the legs; sometimes even to the point that it becomes disruptive to sleep and the regular patterns of life. Restless Heart Syndrome works in much the same way, but in the heart—or soul. The primary symptom of Restless Heart Syndrome, however, is restlessness or discontent; a complete dissatisfaction. We find that we are never really happy with anything. The moment we acquire something, we barely take time to enjoy it before we want something else. This is why the writer of Hebrews warns us to keep our lives free from the love of money, and encourages us to be content with what we have. As believers, trust in the material--investing our hearts in the temporary--is misplaced, and it is a contradiction of faith. When we do this, we are perpetually dissatisfied.
But would you believe that there is a certain restlessness and dissatisfaction that God intended us to have? God actually wired our hearts so that they would be dissatisfied with certain things, causing us to seek the only One who can fully satisfy us. There really is something to this idea of a God-shaped void in our lives. We are meant to yearn to know God more, to want more and more of God, to cultivate a deeper prayer life, to pursue justice and holiness with increasing passion, to love others more, and to grow in grace and wisdom and character each and every day. These are the seeds of satisfaction.
The problem is that the very things we should be satisfied and content with are those things with which we find ourselves hopelessly discontented. For example, we find ourselves dissatisfied with our stuff, our jobs, our churches, and even our families. These are the very things God has gifted us and blessed us with, and we are so often ungrateful. You can’t help but think that God must look upon us and feel the way we feel when we give someone we really care for a special gift and he or she asks for the gift receipt. It’s as if we’re saying to God, “I don’t like what you’ve given me God, and I want to trade it in and get something better than what you gave me.” Such thoughts sow dissatisfaction in our lives.