I Want It Right Now
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:16-17
I’ve used this picture for the blog before, but I don’t believe I’ve ever told the story behind it. The image probably explains itself, but my memory is that our family was out camping when I got hungry. My mother told me supper was still an hour away, which was not OK with me. So, I sat at the picnic table, pounding my spoon while demanding, I want to eat right now! My dad snapped a picture of it, capturing my life problem in a photo.
Growing up in a Christian home, I developed this sense that being a follower or Christ meant giving up all the fun things in life. I knew I’d be rewarded in the afterlife, so I just assumed that life on Earth was the dreary, sacrificial existence which we one day traded for heaven. Then, however, I realized that if God forgave me for everything, I could have my fun here on Earth and still get to heaven. I erroneously thought happiness lay in following my appetite, which has become my greatest life problem – simply doing whatever I want.
I often say that my addiction isn’t my primary flaw. It’s just the most obvious symptom of my greatest struggle, which is captured in today’s photo. The picture is amusing because in it, I was a child. The problem is that child grew up and kept demanding that he do whatever he wanted. Addiction has been called self-will run riot, which is an apt description for my life. Pursuing the immediate gratification found in my impulsive nature hasn’t led to happiness. Rather, it’s made me miserable.
The reason for this is explained in today’s passage. In it, John said that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life are not from God, but from the world. As such, they are temporary and cannot satisfy. Immediate gratification offers fleeting satisfaction that doesn’t last and always demands some price to pay later. Following our impulsive nature is usually self-destructive, but still, we want it because it’s our nature. True joy and happiness, paradoxically, are found only in developing the discipline to say no to our self-destructive appetite so that we may do the will of God. It’s only in following his plan, instead of our own, that we find the life, joy, and peace for which we were created.