On Wednesday nights we've been watching a series of videos put out by Nooma. If you aren't familiar with Nooma, check out their website: http://www.nooma.com. I've really enjoyed some of their video clips this summer - they're worth checking out. Anyway, tonight we talked about how God doesn't always give us what we want when we want it. A typical youth group subject, I know. Isn't it amazing how it's often those things that we've heard over and over that we most need to hear fresh?
I was supposed to lead the discussion after the video tonight. I was tempted just to do the usual thing: look at the suggested questions, pick a few that I liked, and let the kids break into groups to discuss them. Instead, I decided that I ought to "go the distance" and really spend some time thinking about things. (I'm sure this has happened to others out there: when I teach a class, I usually think I'm the one who leaves the room most changed.)
At first, I was quite prideful. Some of the questions asked about things we think we want or need. I thought to myself, "No, I'm quite happy with everything that I have; there aren't any material things that I want!" (Pat, pat on the back for Kelli.) Yes, I was feeling quite self-satisfied. Truthfully, I was dodging the question at first; then I started to consider what things I pray for most often. I realized that I'm desperate for approval, affirmation, and partnership. I don't want to feel like I'm all alone in this life. I also want people to think that I'm absolutely brilliant, and we all know what a joke that is. Most of my deepest desires center around the perception others have of me, with only lip-service to the One who created me.
I started thinking about the opening chapters of Genesis. Why on earth would two people who live in paradise - where God fulfills their every need and walks with them in the cool of the day - why would they feel like something is lacking? The snake deceives them into believing that God was holding back on them, not giving them something that would enhance their existence. Maybe they hadn't heard God proclaim that his crowning act of creation is, "Very good!" Apparently, it wasn't too hard to convince them that "very good" just wasn't good enough.
Their temptation is mine every day: to buy into the lie that God is holding back something that I think ought to be mine now. I'm just as easily deceived as they were. We live in a culture that thrives on convincing people that they need more and more to make them whole and happy. Even though we should be the last to believe such things, the church is often right there alongside the rest of our culture, chasing after things that are fleeting and calling them "blessings." Let's remind each other that God isn't holding back on us; he's the Giver of every perfect gift and his sense of timing is far superior to ours.