For as long as I can remember, a romantic relationship was something I longed for. I remember being as young as seven years old falling asleep at night with thoughts of love and romance on my mind. The idea that someone would look at a dweeb like me and choose me to love filled my heart with hope, wonder, and anticipation.
As I grew up into adolescence and young adulthood, this led to a heavily flirtatious way of life. I wanted a relationship so bad that I treated women as those who would possibly fill this great desire in my life for love instead of treating them as sisters in Christ. Many sins of speech were made by me in my high school and college years because I wanted to win someone over.
But as soon as I would have a young woman get close to me I would freak out and bail.
Then came Jamie.
We dated for a year, were engaged for a year, and then on June 23, 2018, we got married.
My lifelong dream came true.
I had that God-honoring relationship I longed for with a beautiful woman. We set out on our honeymoon the next day: staying in the boiler room of a Carnival cruise ship. Had we hit an iceberg, we would’ve been the first to go.
On our honeymoon I had an experience I will never ever forget. I was standing on the adults-only deck of the cruise ship, looking out over the open ocean. My wife Jamie was sitting just a few feet behind me reading a book. I looked out over the water and thought “Is this it?”. My whole entire life I wanted what I now had more than anything on earth. And yet, I was empty.
Even the most healthy, amazing, perfect relationship with a beautiful follower of Jesus can not satisfy my soul.
Holding fast to my wife, as much of a gift as that is, doesn’t bring life.
What is it that you’re holding fast to?
Maybe it is the high of watching your kid succeed in athletics. I serve on staff at a church in North Texas, and around these parts athletics reign supreme. We live, move, and breathe sports, from Top of Texas football, to incessant travel ball opportunities on the weekends. We start young and we don’t let up. We expend all of the energy and money we have to make sure our kids have the absolute best shot at a scholarship.
But to what end?
Stress, anxiety, depression and the like are at all-time highs in the lives of our teens.
Holding fast to collegiate sport dreams doesn’t end in life.
Maybe it’s numbing the pain of a broken world. You have had fractured relationships, fractured dreams, and fractured hopes. Where do you turn? To the next season of Outer Banks, the 24/7 fear-mongering of your cable news network, or the quirky fun of Duolingo? It’s not so much that you are wanting to hold fast to something other than Jesus. It’s rather that you’d prefer to be hidden from the realities of life in a broken world.
Maybe it’s money. Stuff. The American Dream. You pursue the next vacation, next vehicle, next gadget, or next goldendoddle. And it only leaves you empty.
Here’s the beauty my friends.
There is One who offers us fullness of life. Not only high-quality life, but long-lasting life. And it’s not found in living vicariously through your kid, the next Amazon Prime show, or the trip you’re taking to Colorado.
It’s found in intimacy with God.
Listen to this.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” – Deuteronomy 30:19-20
The book of Deuteronomy is tremendous. Most people get lost in the weeds of weird laws and ordinances. But if you can zoom out and see the story it is telling, you see a glorious invitation to life. Over the next three months, I will be looking at this magisterial book with my students on Sunday mornings. I hope to share some of my thoughts and things that I have learned here for you to read as well.
Here’s what this passage, nestled into the story of Deuteronomy tells me.
Life found in God and nothing else.
Just as my daughter Gracie will likely face similar temptations towards specific sins like her father, history is cyclical. If we don’t look back and assess our history, we are doomed to repeat it and find the same results.
A look at Deuteronomy is a look at our history as God’s people. We can make the same exact mistake the people of God did in the wilderness. We can choose death instead of life. We can bring down the curse of sin’s effects on our lives, or we can walk in the blessings of the Father.
So many of us don’t realize that the choices we’re making effect our ability to walk in the realities of God’s blessings. We run at a lighting fast pace and don’t experience peace. We enviously gawk at the lives of those around us, all while missing out on gratitude and thanksgiving. We fret and freak and worry and get anxious as we fill our minds with the gunk of modern news, all while missing out on the abundant joy found in trusting in God’s sovereign purposes in the world.
Brother or sister in Christ, choose life.
When you hold fast to Jesus, you thrive.
When you obey His voice, you thrive.
When you obey His voice, you have the highest-quality life.
When you pursue Him above all else, you will come to see how He is dwelling in your midst.
So many believers cling to the things of this world hoping to eke out a little bit of life. Intimacy with Jesus feels foreign and weird so we try and do the American Dream with some Jesus sprinkled in there on the occasional Sunday and Wednesday.
I want you to know that all you’re doing is preventing yourself from experiencing real life.
To choose Jesus over athletics, academics, entertainment, prestige, or money is not to miss out on life.
It’s to find it.
In His Name,