Satisfied? If not, what are you pursuing?
For the Nevada Appeal
One of the reasons I find the Bible to be captivating is because it is so timeless. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 55, this citizen of Israel proclaims that God is asking humanity, “Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” This was written around 800 B.C., but it hits America right between the eyes today.
This question is asked compassionately. Then and now, God wants to know why we chose to torment ourselves by working very hard to gain things that only make us dissatisfied. God wants us satisfied, and God knows that as St. Augustine once said, “Our hearts will be restless until they rest in God.” But still we exhaust ourselves trying to have things that aren’t meant to be ours. Why do we do this?
A startling answer comes from outside the religious realm from UCLA medical school professor Dr. Peter Whybrow, who writes: “Americans are emerging as the first addicts of the technological age, driven still by some ancient instinct for self-preservation that in our time of affluence is misplaced. It is in the blind pursuit of material prosperity that Americans have begun to push the boundaries of human adaptation, as is evidenced by rising levels of greed, anxiety, and obesity.”
Here is what is happening and has been happening since before Isaiah asked the question about working so hard for that which does not satisfy: We are trying to be people we were never meant to be physically, materially, and spiritually. We work too long, we spend too much, we eat too much, we go places we aren’t meant to go, we spend time and money we don’t really have and do things – even good things – we were never meant to do. And we wonder why we are exhausted and dissatisfied.
At the core of it all is our identity as people “created in God’s image” and, as such, we were created to rest and be satisfied in our relationships with God. We are created for Sabbath rest. But today the Sabbath is the last thing we get to – and when we do, it is often filled with more exhausting events, even in our worship services!
God’s invitation to satisfaction is found also in Isaiah’s words, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money come, buy and eat!”
Is God kidding? Is He making fun of our poverty and exhaustion? No, God is calling us in Jesus Christ saying, “Everyone who drinks of this [literal] water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.”
Are you tired all the time? Are you dissatisfied with drinking from the world’s well, only to be thirsty again? Come drink deeply of Jesus; put away all of the frenzy that doesn’t belong in your life and discover what it really means to be satisfied.
• The Rev. Bruce Kocksmeier is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Carson City.