Years ago, I heard a conversation between a robin and a sparrow which gave me a “bird’s eye view” of what’s going with much of the human race. As I recall, the discussion went something like this:
Said the robin to the sparrow, “I would like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.” Said the sparrow to the robin, “Well, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.”
If birds and other creatures could see how we live, would they conclude we have no Heavenly Father? As believers, we claim to have a Heavenly Father. We pray “Our Father who is in heaven…” but sometimes live like atheists, as if God doesn’t even exist. We tend to live on our terms and wonder why we are so dissatisfied with our life.
We need God. We are made for fellowship with God but often miss out on the abundant life He offers. Why is that? Is our Father lying to us, misleading us? Is he a “good” Father? Or, does the reason for our discontentment lie with us?. Have I misunderstood what I need to do to be contented? Worse still, do I know what I need to do to have that peace that “passes all understanding” and refuse to do it?
Now, back to the birds for a moment. It is much more complicated to be a human than being a bird. God made birds and other animals with instincts for survival and other functions, but He made us as a “soul.” We have a deep need for contentment which comes only from knowing God. To paraphrase something Augustine said long ago,” You have made us for Yourself, and we find no rest until we find our rest in You.”
In his book, Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller probes why people are discontented with life and the various ways we try to address our deep hunger for meaning and purpose. He refers to Saint Augustine of Hippo, a fourth-century bishop I referenced earlier for the reason for our discontentment.
My take on Keller’s assessment of Augustine’s thinking is that our character is shaped by what we love. What we love is more powerful to determine our actions than what we think or say we believe. What we set our affections on is the central issue of life. There is no problem that we love our children, spouse, job, friends, and God. The problem is the order of priority we give them. For example, if I love my job more than my family, I begin to neglect them, and ultimately these relationships deteriorate. If I love my family or other things more than God, I depend on them to supply my most profound sense of contentment, which they cannot do.
The ultimate reason for our discontentment is the “source,” what or who we choose to make us happy. The only lasting source of our contentment is Jesus. When we put Him and His will first, real joy and happiness come along with Him.
I often get distracted and find myself needing to get my priorities in order and return to the only trustworthy “Source” of peace and contentment in my life, Jesus. What about you, are the things and persons you love in the right order? If they are, you are experiencing the joy of the Christian life. Blessings, Cos