There are many life lessons that stick with you forever. Usually, these lessons that stick out are the ones that had to be learned the hard way. I have a head full of such lessons. One in particular I experienced while relocating my family from Panama to Avon Park Florida. God had just moved our family back to the States by way of providing a blessing of a job as Associate Pastor in Florida. So upon arriving back in the states, we rented a big Uhaul truck, loaded it full, and began the nine hour drive from Destin Florida to Avon Park. I followed Lacy and the boys as they drove our van ahead of me.
About six hours into our long drive, the Uhaul began to lose power. I would press down on the gas pedal, and the speedometer would barely move. Pretty soon regardless of how hard I pressed the gas, the Uhaul actually refused to speed up and began decreasing in speed. I checked the gas gauge only to see that I had well over half a tank of gas. I was extremely perplexed as to what in the world was happening. So I called Lacy on the cell phone and told her to pull over at the next rest stop. Luckily, we made it to the exit just in time for the Uhaul to completely die on me. Again, I checked the gas to find it was far from empty. I even checked the oil and found it to be just fine. With those checks being the extent of my mechanical knowledge, I then called AAA road service and told them I needed immediate assistance.
Within about thirty minutes two guys pulled up in a AAA work truck. The first question the mechanic asked me was, “Did you check the gas?” To which I told him that the tank was half full! He then said back to me, “No, I mean did you check before you left the Uhaul company to see what kind of gas it would take?” Before leaving on the trip, I had filled up at the gas station as I always did with regular unleaded gasoline. For you grease monkeys that may be reading this blog, you have just now identified what my problem was. A big Uhaul truck wasnt made to just run on any kind of gas. It was made to run off of diesel fuel. I had put the wrong kind of gas in the tank. Even though it ran smooth for six hours, the regular gasoline finally corrupted the engine and brought it to a complete halt. Lesson learned. Before operating anything, make sure you know what it runs on.
Now I already looked foolish to these mechanics who wondering how a person could be so ignorant as to not know that a big truck runs on diesel fuel. But imagine for a moment that after the mechanics had told me to only put diesel fuel in the truck, I had defiantly responded to them by saying, “No, I really like regular fuel, and I know that this will never happen, so Im just going to keep putting regular fuel in it.” You would say that I was insane! I cannot tell a mechanic, a person who puts together cars for a living, how a car operates best! I dont know a transmission from a transistor! So for me to try and tell a car guy that I know better as to how to operate a vehicle is of the highest stupidity on my part on completely arrogant! Rather it is in my best interest to listen to the mechanic, because when it comes to automobiles, he knows how they run best and how they are wired. Because cars are what he does!
“He has set eternity into the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.
The ‘HE’ in that verse is God. And the verse is telling us something extremely important that we should key in on. Essentially, God is telling us in this verse the kind of gasoline we are designed to run on! God has placed a void within the human heart, a gap inside all of us. And we try to fill this void within our hearts in many different way. We run to sex and relationships in hopes of finding a person that can satisfy this eternal longing within us. We run to alcohol in hopes of filling this gap that resides inside of us. We attempt to fill this void with material things like striving for a bigger house, nicer cars, newest I Phone, or whatever is desired. And all of these things will actually satisfy our hearts, but only for a short time. Just as was the case with the Uhaul truck, eventually your soul will begin to corrupt because you have actually been neglecting to fuel your heart with the fuel which it was designed for.
God has placed an eternal void into the heart of man. And that void can only be filled by that which is eternal! In other words, God created you to run off of Him!! If you talk to people, the struggles that they have in life come from expecting their cars to run off of regular fuel when all along it was made for diesel! Our hearts were made with an eternal sized hole and we get depressed with trinkets and toys dont fill the gap! And in the case of relationships, if you are counting on your spouse to be the end all to satisfy the deep longings of your soul, you are as Jeremiah points out, “Digging in a well that holds no water.” Your spouse cannot fill an eternal void, because they themselves are not eternal.
This is seen in all areas of life, even worship! When I mention worship, I usually lose over half of the men in my audience. I look around the church on many Sundays to see men who are either not singing to the Lord or are just standing up and mouthing the words they read off the screen with a lifeless expression on their face. Its a funny thing to confront these guys. The conversation usually goes something like this…..
“Hey man, why dont you sing in church?”
“Well, I just am not an expressive kind of guy! I love the Lord i just dont get into singing hymns!”
I love it when people, especially men, try to use the excuse of they are just not expressive people as to why they dont worship the Lord in praise!! But they worship in every other aspect of their lives!! Think about it. When their football team wins the game and they are with their buddies, what do they do? They jump for joy! They get emotional!! They worship! When women get a new recipe off of food network (Im speaking from experiences in our household) what do they do? They call their friends raving about the recipe! They worship! You see, worship is just an outward expression of praise for the things we love in our lives. But when it comes to God, we make excuses as to why we dont worship that when put into context make no sense what so ever! You worship that which you love. You were created to worship!! Have you ever thought about that? Let me say that again……
You were created to worship!
Thats why when you go to that concert and you get that euphoric feeling in your soul when the band plays, and you sing along, thats worship!! When your ball team wins the championship and you get that emotional high, thats worship!! But as in all thihgs, our worship of earthly things can never eternally satisfy us. Eventually that concert will end. Eventually, your ball team will lose. And you end up crashing and looking for the next emotional pick me up in material things, relationships and new trinkets and toys. But when the newness eventually wears off, your back right where you started. You soul craves worship, thats why we jump from vice to vice in our lives. Whatever we set our hearts on while on this earth, we will be left disappointed.
But in Christ, there is no ceiling to our worship! Because we were made with a void that only HE is big enough to fill! And its when we finally begin to tap into this truth that our lives take on a greater meaning and a greater joy!
The great writer CS Lewis had a great insight about how God designed us. He said that when he originally read the Bible, specifically the Psalms, he was appalled at how many commands there were from God for us to worship Him. Lewis said that at first glance, God seemed to him like a little old lady begging for complements. But Lewis went on to say that as he began to dig deeper, he realized that he was so very wrong.
God is not begging us to worship Him. God doesnt need our worship. In fact God doesnt even need us! But he loves us. And in his love for us, much like the mechanic, God knows how we are designed to work best and how we will receive the ultimate joy in our lives. He knows this because he designed us!! So when God sets boundaries in marriage, he is not trying to hinder our enjoyment, but instead prolong it! In essence, God is saying, “Look I designed the thing, I get it!” We were wired and designed with eternity placed in our hearts. We were designed with a desire to worship! And we have turned into a society that would rather seek fleeting happiness when all the while, a fountain of unending joy has been offered.
God doesn’t say, “Worship me, because I need praise.”
Rather, God says, “Worship me, because in doing so you will be lead into ultimate Joy!”
You were created as a being that needs to worship. The problem is found in what you are worshiping? The Uhaul truck ran for a short time off of regular gasoline. But it would have run alot longer and been in better shape had I used the diesel fuel that it was designed for. What are you worshiping today? Because no matter who you are, we all worship something.
1 Corinthians 10:21 says that no matter what you do, be it eating or drinking or whatever, do all things for the glory of God. Here is what is meant by that. When you eat a robust, delightful meal, you worship. You brag on the chief, and you tell your friends about how great Rachel Ray is for bringing that recipe to your knowledge. You see what has happened? You’ve worshiped and praised that meal, but its been misdirected. Instead of praising Rachel Ray, why not give credit to where credit is really due? Why not marvel in the fact that God created all of those flavors and spices and He did it all for your enjoyment?
The same can be said of sports teams. Instead of bragging on the athlete for his abilities, why not re route your worship. Why not bask in the amazement of how God blessed certain individuals with the abilities to do such things on the field? When you drink a good cup of coffee, don’t praise the machine for grinding it up, but rather praise God that he made such a thing as the coffee bean so that you would look to Him as the giver of all things! No matter if you eat, or drink, in all things….do it to the glory of God! Do you see just a glimpse of the mind of God? He doesnt command your worship just to flex his sovereign muscles at you! He commands you to worship Him because He knows that is how you will be brought into greater joy!!
“God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him!! -John Piper
What fuel are you running on today? The commands of God are not meant to beat you into submission and make you do things you hate! Rather they are put in place by God almighty to bring His creation into greater joy! But the sad thing is most of us have never taken God up on this offer. We’ve never as the scripture says, tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good! You were wired with an eternal void in your heart. Other people cant fill it. Money cant fill it. Things cant fill it. Its eternal, meaning only God can fill it. And you were built with a desire to worship. But maybe the reason you are constantly disappointed is due to your worship being misdirected. God is first and foremost, after the glorification and worship of His Holy name. Meaning that contrary to human belief, you and I are not the point, He is. But we would want it no other other way, because in God being uppermost in His own affections, we are brought into a greater, deeper Joy….because again, thats how we were designed! I learned quickly that regular gas wont fill a diesel truck. And the Lord has told us that temporal things will not fill that which was made for eternity! We are far to easily pleased by the fleeting desires of this world, when all along, God offers infinite joy.
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -CS Lewis