Tuesday’s Truth – Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Welcome back again! Today I want to share something with you that I discovered in my daily Bible study. I’ve been going through a chronological reading of the Bible, and recently I’ve been covering the end of Solomon’s life, and the division of his kingdom into Israel and Judah. In my reading, I went through the last few chapters of the book of Proverbs. While most of the sayings in that book are clearly attributed to Solomon, Chapter 30 is supposedly written by a wise man named Agur. It is not clear who Agur was. Some sources believe that it was a symbolic pen name for Solomon. Others say that he was an Arabian ruler. The context, history, and Hebrew structure in the passage make it hard to be definitive. What is clear, though, is that whoever the writer of Proverbs 30 was, he made some very helpful observations about God, life, and the ways of the world. I’d like for you to look at just a few verses out of this chapter with me. Let’s start with a promise:

“Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

I love this idea of complete security. I’ve been reading lately about the kings of Israel and Judah, and it is amazing to me how simple it was that when they obeyed and trusted God, there was peace and prosperity, and they were never defeated, but when they went their own way and trusted in their own strength, or in their armies and allies, they invariably experienced failure and defeat. What a clear challenge to trust Him with everything.

The writer goes on to make a request of God:

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

The wise man here is giving us a lesson in contentment. How often do you pray this same sort of prayer? Do you ask for God to give you only what you need, what He wills you to have, or do you continually ask for more? Give it some serious thought this week.

15b “There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

The writer continues with the idea of contentment vs. desire. I think we can all identify with the first two examples he give. As we talked about last week, death is something that is constant an inevitable. And all of us have known couples who have struggled with infertility. It is amazing what lengths people will go to try to conceive a child. The drugs, procedures, and financial costs are each extreme, and yet there is no slowing in the business of helping people have babies. The desire for the child overshadows any physical or financial discomfort. And while I cannot directly relate to that example, I certainly can relate to the final two. Here in our beautiful state of Colorado, our gorgeous spring and summer have been marred by a severe drought that has contributed to extensive wildfires. Last summer we dealt with the same issues, but this year seems even worse. Over 500 homes were destroyed just in one fire. In another area of the state, a popular tourist area was almost completely destroyed. In yet another area, over 50,000 acres of beautiful alpine forest have been consumed. Watching the reports come in each day, it is easy to see that fire never says, “Enough!”

Notice that these things which are impossible to satisfy are not spoken of positively by the writer. We live in a culture where a constant drive for more (more money, more power, more recognition, more success, more possessions, more happiness, more everything) is seen as a positive character trait. Commercials for athletic products tell us to keep pushing for more – faster times, more points, more wins. Educational institutions tell us that we can become more, earn more, learn more, if we attend their school. Movies and television tell us to climb the ladder, find a better spouse or partner, reach for the stars. We are told to never stop pushing the envelope, never accept defeat, never stay in one place too long. Satisfaction is the same thing as laziness and apathy. Every opportunity is meant to be taken, every risk is worthwhile.

And yet I wonder if we’re really happier, and more satisfied because of this constant drive for more. Look at the statistics relating to debt, divorce, and suicide just in the US. The average credit card debt in the US is over $15,000, The average mortgage debt is just under $150,000, and the average student debt is over $30,000. The divorce rate is around 40%. Nearly 40,000 people in the US commit suicide each year, and many more admit to thinking about it. We’re in a state of constant striving, and it’s not making us happier, more satisfied people.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon often speaks of human striving as being meaningless. It’s clear that more is not always better. Working hard, doing one’s best, reaching for dreams – all of that can be very worthwhile. Our failing is in letting our achievements, our possessions, our striving, take too high a priority. There are many ways we could talk about what this means, but let’s go back to what the writer said: having too much, seeking too much, can draw us away from God. We become like those kings I mentioned at the beginning who stopped trusting the Lord and experienced defeat and failure. Make the writer’s prayer your own this week. Ask Him to give you a spirit of contentment, no matter what your circumstance, trusting that He has given you all that you need.


Have a contented week!


Tuesday’s Truth – Mirror, Mirror

Welcome back   🙂 I’m glad we’re both sticking with this! I hope you’re finding something to energize your spirit here.

This week I want to dig into some truth about our image. Image is a very important thing to us humans. God created us with eyes that we use to gather mountains of data about the world around us. The way we see things with our eyes has a big impact on how we perceive them with our minds. But it’s not a one-way street. Our mind can cause our eyes to see the wrong thing. Think of all those optical illusions and “magic eye” pictures that so fascinated you as a child (or even, like me, as an adult). You may know that the circles are not spinning, but something between your eyes and your brain says it most certainly is. Or there are those with eye diseases that either have blank spots in their vision, or see extra things (lines, starbursts, etc.) added to the image before them. We even have sayings based on image: “Seeing is Believing” or “Image is Everything”. We have image consultants, we have whole industries based on making things and people look their best. Or, in some cases, better than their best.

Floating around the internet currently is a video series put out by health and beauty product manufacturer Dove. It features an interesting experiment in which a forensic sketch artists draws two portraits of several women. One he draws based solely on the woman’s description of herself, and the other he bases on a description given by an acquaintance. He never sees the woman until all the sketches are finished. In every case, the picture based on the woman’s own description is much harsher and less attractive (and also less accurate). The point Dove is trying to make is that we all are more beautiful than we think, and that people we meet judge us (at least physically) less harshly than we judge ourselves. I think they’re right, and I think that it is an important fact to remember, especially in such a beauty-crazed society as ours.

But our problem with image goes far beyond age spots, crows’ feet, or dark circles under our eyes. And it’s not just limited to women. Yes, we ladies often worry about our physical image before we even think about the other aspects. But men are not immune to creating false images of themselves as well, although their images are more often based on quantitative factors such as social acceptance, career success, wealth accumulation, and perceived respect. Now, to be sure, some people go off the other end of the continuum and create a false self-image that paints them as much more beautiful, successful, and popular than they are. But by far, the majority of us struggle with seeing ourselves as less thans. I’m less beautiful than _________ because _______. I’m not as successful as ____________ because I don’t _____________. I’m less popular than ___________ because ____________. I get less respect in the office than _________ because __________. The comparisons go on and on until we see ourselves as something small and miserable. The first image that pops into my mind is from the Disney classic Little Mermaid. Being a child of the 80’s, I probably watched this movie 100 times. The wicked sea-witch sings a song about “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, those who had asked for her help, and were unable to repay. They looked like this:  instead of the beautiful, graceful, majestic mer-people that they had been. Sad as it is, we often turn ourselves into “Poor Unfortunate Souls” by lying over and over to ourselves and to others about who we really are.

So what about the truth? Who are we? We are God’s masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10). We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We are God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9). Any one of those alone ought to revolutionize the way we see ourselves. You are not from God’s pile of “seconds”. He didn’t pick you up in the yardsale of life (and He won’t sell you off at one, either). The Father and Creator takes great joy in you, whether you are physically beautiful in your own eyes, or the eyes of others. He rejoices over you whether you have reached the highest levels of human success, or are still struggling to get on the bottom rung of the proverbial ladder. Let me leave you with the simple, but eternally profound, truth that God gave to the prophet Samuel as he searched for the next King of Israel: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) What is inside you – your character, your integrity, your relationship with God – those are the things that really count, because they can get better with age. No one gets more beautiful as they get old. But the lasting and eternal continually improves, if it is what we are focused on.

This week, when you look in the mirror, make sure you’re presentable, but then look deeper, and ask God to show you what’s on the inside (Psalm 139:23-24), then take care of that. And when you look at others, discipline yourself to look past their outward appearance, whether stunningly beautiful or distressingly grotesque, and search out their real nature. I guarantee you, things will look a whole lot different.

Be Beautiful!