There is a statement that goes something like this… “I’ll be happy when…” and then you fill in the blank. Of course we all conjure up things in our minds when we think about a statement like this.
I’ll be happy when I have X amount saved in my 401K…
I’ll be happy when my kids get out of diapers… or I’ll be happy when I retire…
You can go on and on with this and we often do. Sometimes we do it in a more noble way and we just “look forward” to certain things. I’m not saying it’s sinful to look forward to things but why can’t we just live in the moment and live for the here and now and be content in the circumstances that we currently reside?
It really is an area that we should consider some discipline in our lives. An area that can stand some refinements and improvements if you will. And since this is not a self help blog I won’t try and provide “advice” for you to do that. I think we must, if we are Christians, consult our truth source. Perhaps you’ve already thought about a text or two that I might cite. Maybe you are already jumping ahead and anticipating where I’ll go with this. But I want to begin at the beginning because sometimes to identify issues in our lives we need to not just jump to the application but it’s better to study the root of the issue.
But the serpent said to the women, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:4-5
From the very beginning the enemy sowed seeds of discontent. Can you imagine the garden that Adam and Eve were placed was far beyond our imagination in beauty and perfection. No insects are mentioned in the creation account. So when Adam and Eve were in the cool of the evening with God they probably weren’t swatting at mosquitoes. No gnats buzzing in their ears and no poison ivy or wild parsnips that was burning their skin. They had all the food they could eat and were told to enjoy the surroundings, cultivate the land and procreate…
It was as good as it could possibly be.
Yet what does the serpent do? He attacks the word of God, and he sows discontent.
“You know… if you were only allowed to eat that one fruit you were told not to then life would be even “better” than it is now…”
“God is so unfair to you…” “How could He keep this knowledge from you?” “What a rotten God He really is…”
The woman had to think quick and Adam stood by and watched it all happen. As she thought about it I can imagine what was going on in her mind.
Maybe she thought things like “well, maybe he’s right?” “Maybe God is holding out on us…”
“It’s so unfair that God would withhold this fruit from us…” “Don’t we deserve it?” “I mean Adam works hard every day and all, let’s just put this on credit and pay for it later…”
Given the knowledge of what it might have been like after the fall I wonder if Eve ever regretted the decision? And sometimes when we “get what we want” the empty and hollow feeling of regret comes on so strong that we wonder what was the big deal about it anyway. I know that for me there are things that are “nice”. And I actually do appreciate them in my life but that has only come through a satisfaction that Christ provides.
I don’t receive my joy through the “If only’s” in my life. I receive the joy and the satisfaction through being obedient to Christ and abiding in Him. There is NEVER disappointment or regret in my joy and fulfillment in being in Christ. There is never a stale aftertaste when I’ve spent time with Him. There are never regrets that leave me hollow…
There is an instant satisfaction that comes through saving faith in Christ but there is also a learned satisfaction that comes through growth in holiness and a new desire through a changed heart. That is where we have the privilege to suffer and give for the sake of the gospel. Because if the gospel that saved you is only about you then you’ve got the wrong gospel.
Paraphrasing Leonard Ravenhill: “Many want to come to the cross but they just don’t want to get on it…”
The Christian life should be one of sacrifice, learning to grow in contentment and striving for the glory of Christ. Our “If only” in life should be that “If only I had lived more intentionally for the glory of Christ”… That is an “if only” I can get behind.
If you find yourself wishing your life away or desiring happiness in things that rust and corrode then take a few moments and consider where is your hope? Have you found true joy and hope in Christ or in that next thing you got going on?