Can’t get no satisfaction?
I recently had a tour of Paris Hilton’s mansion – not in person, I hasten to add, but in a hilarious YouTube video with Ellen Degeneres.
Who is Paris Hilton, you ask? Good question. She is the great-granddaughter of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton. She is also very, very wealthy.
Let me say straight up that I have nothing against wealthy people in general, or Paris Hilton in particular. In fact, when I saw her home — featuring large, immaculate parlours in which she by her own confession had never sat, a beautifully-appointed kitchen that is almost never used, a walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom full of clothes, and dozens upon dozens of portraits of Paris Hilton — I felt sorry for her.
It’s easy to point fingers, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about our hunger for fulfillment, where this hunger comes from, how it drives us, and how it can ultimately be satisfied. Paris Hilton, it seems to me, is not happy – not truly satisfied. The same could probably be said of many celebrities. There is something that drives them to always seek some new thrill, some new experience, some new acquisition.
Yesterday was Friday, everyone’s favourite day of the working week at my office. On Fridays a near-holiday atmosphere prevails. I have a group of friends who went to the pub yesterday at lunch time, as they do every Friday, to drink beer and play cards. They go because they want to enjoy life. They are looking for satisfaction.
As for me, I went to the park to walk, listen to music and talk with God. At first glance this might seem like a very different choice than the ones my friends were making in going to the pub, but in at least one sense our choices were very similar. I went to the park for the very same reason that my friends went to the pub: because I was looking for satisfaction.
On the way to the park I passed the Gatineau Mosque. I was struck by the number of men who were gathering to pray, as Muslim men do on Fridays. I prayed for them, and almost immediately the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that whatever I think of the Islamic faith, most of these men have a sincere desire for God. They are seeking satisfaction.
When I ride my bike home from work, I am not just trying to get exercise or save money. There is something in me that drives me to push my body, and the views of the river and the city along the bike path feed my spirit in a way that I cannot fully explain. I am seeking satisfaction.
My son Joe is enjoying his new church family. He loves the relationships and the family atmosphere of this new church, he senses God at work in some exciting ways, and he is thoroughly enjoying being part of a worship team again. He is seeking satisfaction.
My daughter Bethany has just finished her grade 12 exams. As I write this, she is sitting in our living room looking at her year book with her Mom. To celebrate the end of high school she went camping with some of her school friends yesterday and today. They were seeking satisfaction.
My friend and colleague Stéphane volunteers at a feeding program at a homeless shelter close to the office where we work. He also volunteers as a Big Brother. Why does he do this? To help others – yes – but he is driven by a desire for meaning and purpose in his life. He is seeking satisfaction.
My brother-in-law Jamie competes in several triathlons each year. My friends Dan and Lydia were among many who ran 10km in Ottawa’s recent race weekend. My nephew James cycles 80-90 km on weekends on a regular basis. I am impressed with their dedication to fitness, but I believe they do this for more than fitness alone. They do it to satisfy some inner drive. Like everyone else on the planet, they are seeking satisfaction.
What’s my point? As I wrote last summer on the topic of The Importance of Desire, citing Mike Bickle’s insightful book The Seven Longings of the Human Heart, all of us are driven by deep longings that are built into us by our creator God. Because of the way we are designed by God, we do many things in a quest for satisfaction. Tragically, many people spend most of their life’s energy in this quest and yet never find what they are seeking except in fleeting glimpses, on rare occasions.
In the words of a classic song from the sixties – one of the Rolling Stones’ first big hits
I can’t get no satisfaction
And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try
For many people, sadly, these words are only too true. This is where drug addiction, family violence, prostitution, and all manner of social evils originate : from wounded, deceived hearts seeking satisfaction in destructive ways. Many are seeking to fulfill desires that were placed in their hearts by the One who made them, but they never find the peace they seek, because they don’t realize that only in surrender of our lives to Him can these desires be fulfilled. As C. S. Lewis wrote,
we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the activities that I described above. Yes, it is possible for wounded, damaged, deceived hearts to seek satisfaction in ways that are destructive and wicked, but most of the things people do for satisfaction are not wrong in themselves. There is nothing wrong with going to the pub, playing cards and drinking a glass of beer with your colleagues, riding your bicycle along the river, praying, camping, enjoying music and hanging out with friends. All of these are forms of blessing from the hand of a good God. Yet my heart is sad for many of the people around me because I see that they are chasing satisfaction in things God has provided, not realizing that He himself is the true provision, and that in Christ alone can their hearts find rest, peace, wholeness, ideals worth living for, and satisfaction that truly endures. Years ago I was saddened when my friends M. and S., who were very involved in the peace movement and in many other social justice causes, were unable to find peace in their own marriage, and went their separate ways. This is a common story. They were trying to solve the problems around them but they had not dealt with the turmoil within them. It was scenarios like these that led me to surrender my life to Christ, as I discovered to my everlasting delight that here was One who understood the desires of my heart, could bring order, peace and joy to my life, and give me purposes worth living for.
If this post describes your life – if you’ve been seeking satisfaction and not knowing where to find it – there are people who can help you. Get in touch with me and it will be my delight to introduce you to Jesus, my best friend and the One who has brought peace to my life. He knows your heart and He is the source of satisfaction you have been seeking.
If you already know where life can be found – pray for your friends and those around you. Ask the Lord to help you see your friends and work colleagues with new eyes – with His eyes. Ask Him to give you His heart for everyone in your life who is seeking satisfaction outside of the One in whom lasting joy can be found. Then reach out with His heart as he opens doors – without judgment, but with genuine compassion.
Wherever you are at in your quest for satisfaction, may you allow Jesus, who alone is good and trustworthy, to guide you home. No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been – He is your peace.