Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The analogy you will never hear at Church--especially if you are Baptist

Disclaimer: We don't drink, smoke or advocate anyone to do either.

We are all alcoholics... every one of us, so to speak.

We all have very important needs (food, clothes, etc.), but we also have very strong desires or wants (emotional, physical and spiritual). The most popular: respect, relationships (love, friendship, parent-child), power, recognition, etc.

Most of these are harmless, but when we get too much of one of them, it consumes us. Like alcohol consumes an alcoholic. The desires are not bad, like alcohol in itself is not bad. However, they are both intoxicating. Some of us have higher tolerance than others. In C.S. Lewis's eyes the pursuit of any of these is simply a pursuit of happiness and he writes “And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

So we hear this, C.S. Lewis is a highly regarded scholar so we try to heed his advice. We can sober up, switch to cigarettes, a lesser form of that which fills our needs. We turn to God, and the strength of the pull from the alcohol is minimal. Then, one day, by accident even, you get a taste of the sweetest, purest, highest proof alcohol you have ever tasted-something they call joy-and you know life will never ever be the same.

So you go back to Lewis:
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

And you wonder:
You realized the error in your ways. You realized that there was no happiness away from God. You realized happiness is in seeking God. You deprived yourself of earthly desires that take your attention away from the Source. You were not even looking for anything else, yet you are in the middle of pure bliss, so how could this be?

My answer:
God allows us to have a taste of happiness/joy provided by Him (a happiness you could never find even if you searched the whole world for it), with no effort of our own. This temporary state allows us to experience:
1. His Power--He can do what your efforts have failed to do.
2. His Mercy--We screw up, yet he chooses to bless us.
3. Heaven--happiness on earth is just a small taste of Heaven.
4. Your powerlessness--You need HIM.

When it is all done, because everything in the world ends, you are left longing not for the happiness which we can obtain by our efforts, but the joy only He can provide. Life's tests are simply the time periods during which this joy is absent from our lives. It is then that we make a very important choice: be bitter that our perfect bottle has been taken away and wallow in cheap beer or push on through enjoying the spare cigarette along the way knowing full well that whatever we do not have here, there is a bigger bottle of the sweetest, purest, most intoxicating alcohol you have ever tasted waiting on the other side. You have had a taste and know that nothing else will satisfy you the same.

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