Billy Graham tells a story in a book that was written years ago, Peace with God, of a disturbed patient that consulted a doctor. The man was deeply depressed, and nothing that the doctor tried to say to him was able to relieve him of the burden that he felt. As the time ticked up to the hour, the psychiatrist realized he had nothing to help the man. He said to him as a last gasp, “By the way, I know I have not been a great help to you, but I do want you to know there is a terrific show in the local theater, and there is a comedian that has got everyone rolling in the aisles. And I think it would be excellent therapy for you if you just went in there for a couple of hours and just laughed for a while and forgot your troubles. Why don’t you go?” “Well thank you,” said the man as he stood up to leave and then he turned back and said, “I am that comedian.”
Peter Sellers of the Pink Panther has a biography called The Mask Behind the Mask. In this funny man, you will discover that he knows that laughter is ultimately foolish. We all know what happened with Robin Williams.
There is nothing in this world that can lift a person out of his or her emptiness. Solomon tried wisdom, pleasure and projects. He tried influence and had lots of things. He refused himself nothing. He found emptiness in it all. “I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun.” ECCLESIASTES 2:20
It starts at an early age. Why did you transfer from a training bike to a two-wheeler? Wasn’t it because the two-wheeler was what the big kids rode? It was better than the three-wheeler. We are constantly striving toward something better and bigger and more beautiful and more pleasurable…
Robert Burns the great Scottish poet said:
But pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow fall on the river,
A moment white – then melts forever,
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form,
Vanishing amid the storm.
Reaching out for it and it is not there.
He was a well-respected poet in England but he was notorious as a womanizer and a drunk. Here was a man who had been down this avenue and knew it was a dead end.
Our objective should be to give our children truth from the Bible that relates to this world, so that they can answer the question, “what can truly satisfy the deep longings of the human heart?”
Joe Queenan wrote the book, Balsamic Dreams explaining how the baby boom generation that started out at Woodstock and Monterey ended up at Crate & Barrel. He asks “how did a generation that promised to ‘teach its children well’ end up with progeny so evil they could give that kid from The Omen a run for his money?”
Joe starts his book by telling a story of how he woke up one morning with a very bad cough and he self-diagnosed lung cancer. Having determined that he is now on the road out, he decides that he needs to do something useful with his life. He starts taking piano lessons. He begins to read intelligent books. He decides to take flying lessons and Tai Chi. He decides he needs to put his ashes somewhere. After all of this he figured he needed to get his children and wife up to speed mortality-wise.
Understand that he was in his prime earning years and his wife was a little ticked off that he would pick this time to die. She suggested that he seek a second opinion! When he finally got the call from the doctor’s office on the x-ray, it was diagnosed as a generic allergy attack. Immensely relieved he dropped the piano lessons and cooking lessons and tai chi and flying lessons and he informed his friend that on his trip to Paris, he would have extra room in his luggage since he would not be carrying his ashes.
That night his sleep was deeply troubled. His brush with death, however fleeting, however absurd, brought him face to face with his own most jealously guarded values.
“Look how I had reacted to the thought I would die? Did I say to myself, now would be a good time to help eradicate poverty in rural America? No! Did I ask myself; wouldn’t this be a good time to spend in a leper colony? No! Did I ask myself; why not spend the few remaining moments to make this planet a better place than the way I found it? Of course not! Instead I embarked on a mad binge of self-aggrandizement. Rather than capitalizing on my remaining weeks, to reconcile to my enemies, spend more time with my loved ones, consult wise men on the meaning of life, I had succumbed to the siren song of self-actualization. Yet in my defense I said that I was not the only one of my age group that would have reacted this way. I felt that I was true to the ethos of my generation: the baby boomers.”
The way the whole of society is set up for our children is to call them down these dead end streets. Education, laughter, self-actualization will not answer the question of the deep longings of the soul. When the cynics call our children and say no one believes that anymore, it is important that they have a robust enough reaction to be able to stand against it.
It is important that we, and our children meet Christ at the entrance to all of these dead end streets. Is this the legacy that you have planned?
Thanks for Alistar Begg for these ideas
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