Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

From the time I was a child, I've been hard to satisfy. I have a bad history of Christmas tantrums (some of which were my parents' fault). For example, I think I might have asked for "a He-Man toy." I say "I think" and "I might" and I use quotes because I simply cannot remember a Christmas list from 25 years ago well. However, I'm pretty sure I got Cringer, He-man's tiger...but I'm not sure I even had He-Man! Do you see, the problem here? I was left "unsatisfied."*

Satisfaction - fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.

That's a HARSH definition. I thought satisfaction would be just like some happy feeling, but the above definition includes so much, that it kind of sounds unattainable.

My Christmas list was representative of my expectations. I expected everything on that list. So if the morning did not go as expected...I went insane.

Now imagine this child has grown up. 

I was talking to my mom about one of my needs this morning: oysters. I've had the biggest oyster craving for the past couple of weeks, but haven't really done anything about it. A couple of days ago I bought tickets to the Oyster Riot. For three hours, I will have unlimited oysters. Twenty-five different types! But that's not until November. And the anticipation is not satisfying. I sit around thinking: how can I guarantee satisfaction (a.k.a. how do I get my money's worth)? And I have this ridiculous plan of subtracting a certain amount for the live music, then divvying up the remaining amount between drinks and oysters. But, how many do I have to eat for it to be satisfying? 70? 50? Definitely no less than 30 right?!

Now, I don't want to jinx my oyster riot and say I'll be underwhelmed when that day comes...but, such has happened before. With McDonald's french fries. Sometimes you really want them. You'll head to Mickie D's, you'll get fries...and it just won't be all you had dreamed. Am I the only one this has happened to?  

Probably not, because when all your wishes, expectations, and needs for an amazing culinary experience rest on a $0.99 fry, things can go terribly wrong! When your wishes, expectations, and needs regarding your life rest on significant others, cars, houses, promotions, and the like...it can be a lot like buying stale fries or (God forbid) getting food poisoning at an oyster riot. Right?
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." - Matthew 5:6

You know what's amazing about this verse? To me, when I read this I immediately think: what am I hungry for, and I start thinking of all the "stuff" that I want: houses, cars, a man with washboard abs and a smile that gleams, mega millions, etc., etc. But Jesus isn't comparing righteousness to those things. Jesus is talking hunger for FOOD and thirst for WATER. He's talking about life-sustaining elements! Jesus is talking about the necessities of life; if these aren't satisfied, then I'm dead. Not #dead. Really DEAD. Many people have no idea what it means to be life-threateningly hungry. 
I find it amazing how many times I've belittled this scripture to mean so much less. In this same sermon Jesus says: 

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:31-33

How often have you heard this scripture used to tell you to be patient while waiting for the desires of your heart? How many times have you been told to "seek the kingdom first" and all the other unsatisfying items will be added to you? Jesus wasn't even going there. The worries He says to cast aside are so much loftier than "when will I be able to move out of this apartment?" or "when will I get my raise?" These are worries for basic survival! What will I eat? What will I drink? Who will keep me from being naked?! This is serious business, so Jesus is either saying:
  1. Seek ME first (in those situations of hunger, thirst, nakedness), or
  2. He's showing how crucial righteousness is. He's putting in on par with  food and water! Righteousness is a life-sustaining element. If this hunger/thirst isn't satisfied, then I'm dead. Not #dead. Spiritually DEAD. Many people are life-threateningly hungry and have no idea.
Or (gasp!) He's saying both!  Do you see why this sermon is so hard to hear? It was hard to hear 2,000 years ago, when Jews were hungry and thirsty for peace, freedom, and restoration to their land. And it's hard to hear today when we're hungry for romantic love, money/power/position, "happiness", etc. Jesus makes ZERO mention of those things in His sermon. And it's not because those things are bad. Nah, it's because they're not supreme. Jesus is creating a hierarchy of needs that starts with Himself! He wants a people who are focused on the supreme.

Righteousness needs being at the base of the pyramid is problematic, because we don't have any righteousness. But this is part of the build-up: I have nothing to offer (poverty of spirit), I'm a mess (mourning), I need you Lord to guide me (meekness), heck...I need you to survive (hunger and thirst). The awesome thing is: this is a "satisfaction guaranteed" situation. If you're hungry and thirsty for other things...you might come away still hungry. But if you hunger and thirst for righteousness you "will be satisfied."

...Once you get it. All of it. Is this a catch?! Me personally, I want all my satisfaction NOW. But the only way for me to do that, is to get it for myself. But since I'm spiritually impoverished...that won't have the best results. This is why the Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural ability to be patient (the ability to tolerate delays with freaking out). Paul says it best:

 "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness"- Galatians 5:5

*I actually think I loved that Cringer. I'm not sure about this story...but I know this, I cried nearly every Christmas, so stories like this one occurred.