Last night, our family had a night out at the luxurious and refined food location known as Costco.
Who can beat a hot dog and drink for $1.50?
While eating at our table, the following conversation ensued:
Child of Mine (COM): Can we have ice cream after we eat?
Me: I don’t know, but regardless, you haven’t eaten all of your food. There’s no way I’m giving you ice cream if you don’t eat your food. In fact, your other siblings have eaten more than you.
COM: Ok. (this child begins to eat their food)
(Some time passes)
Me: Good job eating!
COM: My stomach aches.
(A little while later)
COM: Can I have ice cream?
Me: I thought you said your stomach ached? Besides, ice cream will probably not be good if your stomach is upset.
Child of Mine #2 (COM2): (thinking that I said that ice cream would help an upset stomach) My stomach is hurting too!
Me: Oh, well, I said that ice cream will NOT be good for an upset stomach.
COM2: (immediately) Oh, well, my stomach is all better now.
COM: Mine too.
Me: I still never promised you ice cream!
Apparently, people will shift their attitudes and feelings if the benefit is worth it. In this case, an upset stomach wasn’t enough to stop them from wanting to get an ice cream.
All of us have benefits and rewards that we are willing to sacrifice for. It’s the carrot on the stick that is in front of all of us.
All of this is acceptable and even desirable.
But, true satisfaction lies somewhere else.
It lies in the journey, not just the destination.
Work for the purpose of making money is enjoyable and acceptable. Work for the enjoyment of that work brings satisfaction, regardless of that paycheck.
Forming relationships for the purpose of mutual benefit is enjoyable and acceptable. Forming relationships for the enjoyment of those relationships brings satisfaction, regardless of the benefits.
Loving God, knowing that you will be blessed by Him is enjoyable and acceptable. Loving God for the enjoyment of loving him brings true and real satisfaction, regardless of his blessings.
On this point, I think too many people see God simply as someone who will answer their prayers and give them what they want. While this can and does happen, God is more interested in intimacy with us, which causes us to be ultimately satisfied!
The carrot on the stick isn’t bad, but some things in life are good enough as they are, regardless of the benefits received from them.
*By the way, for purposes of full disclosure, we did not get the ice cream. My kids were happy nonetheless! That’s because when I tell my kids what to do, they obey completely, with the best attitude possible. My kids are quite possibly the greatest of God’s creations. Oh, you didn’t get kids like mine? Your kids fight, whine, and cry? I’ll pray for you. (/sarcasm)