It is often said that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes it seems to come too little too late for me. How I wish life could be lived knowing what I wish I knew. I think of all that I would have done differently, had I only known……
Hindsight often reveals the misplaced priorities I have had in my life. I can value what ought not to be so highly valued while what should be considered worthy, often can get dismissed. Time and experience usually reveal my mistakes, my misconceptions. To me, perspective is worth it’s weight in gold.
When I read the account of Jonah, I see myself in my twenties, running away from what God intended for me and thinking I knew better. I remember running hard after what the world offered young adults, looking for pleasure and satisfaction in the life I could build for myself. I was free to choose for myself what I wanted in life. I knew what God wanted and expected of me, but what I had no clue about at the time was what He offered me.
I attempted to satisfy my desires through getting married, only to find out I was a sinner married to another sinner! Then I turned to work, building my identity on being the “best”, hoping that would fulfill my needs, my hopes. I came to realize there was always something I could be doing better at work. No matter how hard I tried, there was always room for improvement.
The money work afforded me began to take precedence. As I started earning an income, I quickly set out to spend it. It was exciting to finally have more cash flow, but it was only a matter of time before the latest possession began to lose the sparkle it once had. I would move on to another purchase only to realize how fleeting the thrill actually was.
I turned my attention to making our house a home. I decorated and busied myself looking for items that gave just the right style. I created and designed so that what I saw made me proud as I looked about our home. I learned that beauty does not equal contentment.
It was at this point we began having our children, three little ones in three and a half years. I was a 29 year old stay-at-home mom living in our dream home. I had everything most would be thrilled to have, yet I was empty. Something had to be missing. What was I without, that could satisfy me?
In my thirtieth year, I found what I was missing. Jesus becoming the passion of my life was what turned my life into what it was meant to be. I was finally satisfied. Actually, I was more than satisfied. I was thrilled!!
I had run hard after the things I thought would satisfy me while all along, I was clinging to the wrong things. What I placed as the focus of my life to give it meaning were only idols the world holds up. Relationships, work, homes, and children were what I thought I was supposed to throw myself into but they did not satisfy. Why? They were never meant to. They were meant to be secondary gifts of blessing, not the primary source of joy.
So when I read Jonah 2:8, I recognize the season of my life where I became an adult, looking for fulfillment in all the typical things that would be expected of young adults. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Even though I felt like I was on autopilot, checking off the typical goals of that decade of my twenties, I did not realize what I was looking for until I achieved all that I thought was expected in life. It was only after having it all that I realized what I was missing.
Nothing of this world satisfies like Him. Isn’t that what grace is? Him? I have heard “grace” explained through the acronym of “God’s riches at Christ’s expense”. But recently I heard it explained even better. Grace is basically Jesus.
What I was missing as I set out to make a life for myself according to my desires and standards was God’s grace to me. All those years of running hard after the typical goals of this world left me unfulfilled and discontented. And to think I could have had Jesus all along and finally experience fulfillment. It grieves me to think of the grace I wasted, the grace my own hands threw away.
There are always two paths to choose from. The typical path of the world and the path God intends for His people. One takes us down in life, it is a counterfeit life of what we were supposed to have. It dazzles and sparkles at first but ultimately does not deliver what was promised.
God’s path may not seem to dazzle and sparkle at first glance, but once chosen and pursued, boy does it deliver?! I found that the more I cooperated with what His Word commands, seeking after the grace God offered me all along, the more joyful and content I became. Knowing and loving Jesus was what satisfied me. Husbands, work, homes, and children could not compare. For that matter, no success in life compares to Him. I could “counterfeit” all I wanted and still not have the grace and life I was meant to have.
I see young women today trying to counterfeit fulfillment just like I did. I want to say to them it doesn’t work. It is a lie to think that living life contrary to what God has said will be a blessing. God does not bless disobedience. No way, no how. Whether we are shopping excessively, playing “house” with boyfriends, or expecting husbands, jobs or children to fulfill, we are running away from the life Jesus died to give us. Just like Jonah, we think we know better and seek to live by our own standards.
When we look for fulfillment by living life contrary to God’s standard, it is a counterfeit life where we are forfeiting the grace that could be ours. It took me years of looking to the idols I had made yet which left me empty, before I realized the grace that could be mine. I finally forfeited the idols and grabbed hold of the grace. Take my word for it, the idols can’t compare to life with Him!