What are you depending on? My conversations with others (and in my own head) of late have included this question.
Or, I could say it this way, “What am I counting or relying on day-to-day to bring me satisfaction, fulfillment, rest, or reprieve?”
What I depend on begins to control me. This is dependence.
As I reflect on this, I can see how much I anticipate certain things in my life: chocolate, coffee, sweets, good food, time off, or time alone. These things I look forward to. And these things bring satisfaction.
As I indulge more, I find it to be easier to indulge in my whims, unchecked words, and thoughts. Lack of self-control in one area usually breeds lack of self control in other areas. My “sweet” indulgences spill over into other areas of my life. And lack of self-control does not produce satisfaction, well it does, but it is so temporary. As James says, it is “Here today, and gone tomorrow.”
If dependence controls us, then satisfaction drives us. To be satisfied is what we are made for. But often we choose the temporary over the lasting. But when I look into the depths of my heart, when I turn from my devices and am alone with my thoughts– am I truly satisfied? And truly fulfilled?
As I talk with people about their spiritual life, I often find and observe it is “up and down.” We feel stuck or frustrated instead of satisfied and fulfilled.
I imagine most of us want to live satisfied, fulfilled lives, but it doesn’t seem quite that easy; and rather, very complicated.
Simple, but not Easy
I am always drawn to simplicity. I like things to be practical and workable. I think and breath better when things are simplified: a list is made, the floors are cleaned and things are picked up.
But when I find in the scriptures that the key to the satisfied life is thru dependence, it appears too simple. It is simply stated in so many ways. But simple is not necessarily equated with easy.
Living a satisfied life comes down to this:
Am I depending on a whole host of things or am I depending on God.
It is easy to say and sounds simple, but it is another thing to live that out. It is much easier and more natural to depend on the whole host of other things.
Walking, not Skipping
For most of us, walking is something we do easily and naturally without thinking about it. And it is easy to tell whether someone is walking or running by their pace. A walk is a slow steady pace.
Also, there is a difference between walking and skipping. Skipping is more irregular and sometimes takes forethought (for some!). As a kid I remember those awkward skippers. They just couldn’t quite get the rhythm of it. Walking is a steady one foot right after another, not jerky or up and down, kind of pace.
This is what dependency in the Christian life is suppose to look like. It is compared to “walking.” Galatians says,
“Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”
In other words, I am to depend on Christ moment-by-moment, continually, as a way of life. This is the way to the satisfied life.
Exclamation points not essential
There is kind of a joke on the team I help lead regarding the differences between college women texts and college men texts. The women contain exclamation points– and not just one and not just for unusually exciting things. The exclamation points, I guess, make what was just texted seem more inviting, exciting or acceptable, since the person receiving the text cannot hear the tone in your voice. For example, a young woman might text me- “Sorry, I can’t meet up!! I am not feeling well!!!”
Deep down, we want everything to be exciting, fulfilling or fun. So, to say that this dependence for the satisfied life is moment by moment, continual and a way of life doesn’t seem exclamation worthy. We want it to be an experience!, a “camp high!,” or some amazing podcast! or Breakaway meeting! (for those locally!)! These things do help us to rely on God. But we need the moment-by-moment and continual, more than the temporal and exciting.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the spirit is a reliance. Walking in the spirit is continual surrender to God, abiding in Christ and staying connected to the vine (John 15). It is allowing Him to control us each step along the way. It is a being willing and available continually, not in just one big moment!!!
This is a only a short post and books and chapters of the Bible have been written about this. (And I hope to follow this up with more ponderings, for I think there is nothing more important to impart or discuss with another Christian than walking in the spirit.) But I will say this: this is the life I want, for this is the life that will truly satisfy. This is the life that will convince me that satisfaction from my indulgences pales in comparison to life is the Spirit. This is the life that will cause me to take steps of faith and be willing and available.
Jesus compares the Spirit to a wind blowing. We don’t see it but we experience the affects of it. A choice of moment by moment dependence is a little like this. Some of the impact is now– but much of it is in the future. For when you walk in the Spirit you don’t end up in the same place, but somewhere you never imagined and somewhere better. And that deserves a lot of exclamation point!!!!!
Consider sharing if you think this is helpful.
Next time: The Connection between Confession and being Satisfied