A DESIRE FOR HAPPINESS
Ezekiel the prophet witnessed the death of his wife and saw her death as a foreshadowing of the destruction of the temple and the exile of the people. All individuals must one-day die. The famous people of history and the unremembered multitudes all lie in their graves. Nations eventually fade from power. The once mighty empires of Assyria and of Rome are no more. All things human are but temporary.
There is nothing like death to put human life and its values into perspective. Even before death we taste the impermanence of pleasure and satisfaction. At this time of the year many people take their vacations. They save and plan all year and look forward with great eagerness to a time of relaxation. And yet the most pleasurable and satisfying of all vacations seem to be over all too soon and we are left wondering where the time has gone.
As we go through life, we need times of respite, even times of just plain fun. We should see wholesome pleasure and the joy of living as God's gifts to us. May we never, however, substitute the gift for the giver, or think there is nothing more to the meaning of life than alternating between work and play, pleasure and pain.
A person may have saved or taken out a loan, waiting for a very long time to buy the truck of his dreams. Vehicles cost a lot of money today, but y they feel the truck is worth every penny. And yet deep down one must admit that an automobile could not bring the true happiness for which we all yearn. But we can thank God for this gift of convenience. Jesus tried to give a somewhat similar man a sense of proper values. That man asked the right question, "What must I do to possess everlasting life?" In effect Jesus told him that he had to free himself from dependence on material things and turn his life over to God totally...
Question: What gives hope and satisfaction to our desire for happiness and security? A young man who had the best that world could offer---wealth and security---came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him. The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for. He protested that he kept all the commandments; but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart.
One thing kept him from giving himself whole-heartedly to God. While lacking nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and security in what he possessed. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed and held tight to his wallet.
Why did he walk away from Jesus with sadness rather than joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Jesus himself is the greatest treasure we can have. Giving up everything else to have Jesus as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He also challenges us the same way!
As long as the rich man's heart was divided between temporary and eternal values, he could not be open to the Spirit of God. God alone can give us the everlasting happiness for which we were created.
Are we truly open to the Spirit of God?