Archive for March, 2015

Empty Promises

March 11th, 2015

One day as I was writing a prayer in my journal, I realized as I was writing that the majority of what I was thankful to God for was circumstantial. A “thank you for what you do for me” kind of thing rather than a “Thank you for who you are” kind of thing. It didn’t […]

 

One day as I was writing a prayer in my journal, I realized as I was writing that the majority of what I was thankful to God for was circumstantial. A “thank you for what you do for me” kind of thing rather than a “Thank you for who you are” kind of thing. It didn’t sit well with me and I realized that, even though God has been teaching and growing my heart and thoughts towards Him, I still easily slip into a self-focussed mindset losing godly perspective on things. When I lose perspective of the bigger picture, I begin to try and fill every craving in my soul with what I realized are merely empty promises.

Lysa TerKurst explains it in her Made to Crave Devotional book this way –

God made us to crave so that we’d always desire more of Him…but Satan wants to do everything possible to replace our craving for God with something else…” and usually it’s something to serve ourselves.

She explains that we cravers are always having Physical, Material and Significance-seeking cravings. Human nature craves these things because  – as my pastor once explained –

People tend to equate Comfort, Success, Power and Recognition to Happiness.

Physical Cravings 

(Food,  excessive inactivity, impure desires, or unhealthy physical choices in general) I have personal struggles with physical cravings regularly. I’m hungry. I love junk food (not to mention my husband loves to buy after holiday clearance candy – ahh!), I try to explain away the truth about “fat free” candy and “sugar free” coke (as if that ever screamed chemically toxic to my body and counter-productive louder?!) I prefer snuggling up to watch Netflix to sweating and being out of breath at the gym. Maybe this is you too sometimes. Maybe its something else that is physically destructive or biblically impure that you struggle with. I believe many physical cravings are aimed at fulfilling that perceived comfort, or pleasure-seeking, goal. But as the ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes said

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable.”

I have been here. I have eaten ice cream hoping to feel happy…only to feel fat, insecure, and guilty…and still craving more! I have watched Netflix marathons only to feel lazy, guilty and empty. I have declined the opportunity to exercise regularly to feel only more tired and unmotivated. I still struggle with these too. But everything like this that I seek to fill my physical cravings with has turned up empty…and actually it has taken me farther from the desired result of fulfillment that it seemed to promise.

Material Cravings 

(that thing we see and we have wanted forever and we are so excited when we buy it, only to have the excitement fade quickly leaving us to set our eyes and craving on the next item). I believe this is relates to all four attempts at happiness my pastor was talking about (Comfort, Success, Recognition, and Power). Always buying the next best thing can make life more comfortable, it can make us recognized and perceived as successful,  and people might think we have a higher status, or power,  if we have everything we crave materially.  Comparing jobs, incomes, hobby equipment, homes, decor, phones, cars, clothing/attire, technological devices – you name it – Always feeling a need to buy more and insisting on always trying to have the latest and greatest to impress others may mean that this is a repetitive craving in your life. The worst part is that each thing we desire is like dangling a carrot in front of a hungry rabbit. It will give you something to obsess over, but once it is yours you realize that it only leaves you wanting more.

 

Significance Cravings

(the desire to feel fulfilled by achievements, feelings of importance, love and acceptance.) I think just like we have unique personalities, people struggle with different cravings more than others. You may find one or two of these being your primary struggles. Significance cravings are a big one for me personally. You know that girl that always needed to have a guy to feel loved and valued? That used to be me. And I still struggle with cravings for significance, but it just manifests itself in different ways now. I may feel secure and loved 99% of the time, but in seconds my self-confidence may waiver if Bryan fails to exhibit love perfectly or in that fits my expectations. As I began learning and loving photography more, I began spreading some of this craving onto what others (particularly close friends and family) thought of my work. One good photo shoot and happy client was good but inevitably left me feeling important or valued only for a fleeting moment. Oh, and the disapproval of my work by someone I loved? Devastating. 

While we are busy spinning our wheels to try and attain Comfort, Success, Power and Recognition, God knows that trying to fill our physical, material and significance desires with anything apart from His truth is nothing but a vain attempt seeking empty promises.  A great example of this is in the story of Solomon’s life. Solomon had it all. Physical Cravings? It is estimated he had around 700 wives & 300 concubines..not to mention anything he wanted to eat or drink.  He had all material possessions he could ever want, and all the earthly success, power and recognition (significance) a person could attain.  But with all of these cravings met, he is believed to have devoted a whole book (Ecclesiastes) to explain that all of it was meaningless and empty. It’s like when a good friend tries to spare you from a book or a movie with a terrible ending because they wasted their time learning it was not worth it – we’d be wise to remember that Solomon shared a valuable lesson. When we chase empty promises over God’s promises, we become more like what Paul described as “enemies of the cross” (Phillipians 3:19). Sounds horribly harsh right? But here is how he explains those enemies –

 

They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite (ahemliving to fill cravings),

they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” (NLT)

The problem is – when these appetites rule your life, it’s like walking as enemies of the cross of the Christ who died to save us and free us from trying to find our satisfaction, contentment and significance in anything less than Him. Allowing these cravings to rule your life and seeking to fill them time and again in our own efforts apart from God is like taking your faith and trust and placing them in your own efforts rather than in God’s promises. It becomes a rat race of insanity – doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. And living to fill our desires can become a way of being enslaved to chasing the wind of empty promises.

As Beth Moore puts it in Breaking Free – “Do you see the connection to captivity and to lack of satisfaction in Christ?…We can easily be led into captivity by seeking other answers to needs and desires that only God can meet”….and she goes on to explain “the filling only He can give doesn’t automatically accompany our salvation.”

There is a “huge difference between salvation from sin and satisfaction of soul.

Salvation secures our lives for eternity. Soul satisfaction ensures abundant life on earth….

The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God’s satisfaction is  a sense of inner emptiness.”

If you are a believer in Christ and have experienced that inner emptiness (I have for sure) the good news is that as believers, Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven,” and that anywhere we lack self-control or power, Jesus has the power “to bring everything under His control” (Phil 3:18-21). And with Him, we can find true soul satisfaction, freedom, and abundant life. And lucky for us, we have a perfect example (Jesus) to look to when facing cravings.

Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was tested against Physical Cravings (Matt 4:3-4) and gave a killer answer if I do say so myself. He was tested with Material Cravings (Matt4:8-10), and He was challenged with Significance Cravings (Matt 4:5-7) and he shut them down. And He did this, ladies and gents, by having the best weapon of all ready and using it – God’s Word. When we don’t know God’s Word, we may not be realizing all the time and energy we are wasting filling our cravings with the wrong quick fixes, but we might know at least a little bit the de-motivation, dissatisfaction, discouragement or just blah empty feeling we get even when it seems like we get everything we want. But when we know the truth we have a weapon to cut down our cravings and habits of filling them with empty promises. God knows what it takes to find true lasting satisfaction, and He wants us to have it – not because of anything we’ve done, but because we are His kids and He loves us (1 Peter 5:7).

Isaiah 55:1-2

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;

and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

He is always enough for us…I love this song I heard for the first time today by Kari Jobe below. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week!