I confess I am a bit of a junk food junkie. When faced with the choice of fresh fruit or a handful of chocolate chip cookies, I’ll take the cookies every time. Within an otherwise balanced diet, I know there is nothing wrong with enjoying a few sweets here and there, but it’s up to me to make sure cookies don’t replace the healthy foods my body needs. In the same way, when God gives us material possessions and experiences to enjoy, He wants us to derive pleasure from them, but He doesn’t want that pleasure to take the place of the spiritual and emotional sustenance only He can provide.
The Bible warns us about the dangers of looking to temporary diversions to satisfy deep-seated needs. Isaiah 55:2 asks bluntly, “Why spend money on what is not food? Why work for what does not satisfy you? Listen carefully to me. Then you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the richest food there is” (NIRV). In other words, why waste time and money gorging yourself on empty calories that will never fill you up? Why run yourself ragged chasing after frivolous things that fade away? God is our only True Source of satisfaction. Compared to what He offers us, everything else is spiritual junk food.
Life becomes much clearer when you understand that things can never satisfy the deep longings of the heart. When you grasp this truth, you are freed from the constant drive for instant gratification. You are free to enjoy possessions without being controlled by them, because you know they cannot meet all your needs.
So how do you switch your focus from finding satisfaction in worldly stuff to finding satisfaction in God? Consider these three steps that will help you:
1. Recognize that there is a problem. Things God gives us to enjoy can easily stand in the way of our enjoying God. Have you allowed yourself to be so filled up on junk food that you don’t have room left for God’s feast? If you’re not sure, ask God to show you ways in which you regularly look to sources other than him for fulfillment. When you ask, be ready to be surprised at what he may reveal! You may realize that some other seemingly harmless habit isn’t as harmless as you thought.
2. Release that problem to God. Once you have identified problem areas, invite God into the situation to help you change. Ask Him to suppress your appetite for quick fixes and temporary highs and to replace it with a healthy hunger for the lasting satisfaction only He can give. In addition to asking for His help, do your part by positioning yourself to better connect with him. Spend some extra time in prayer. Listen to praise and worship music. Participate in a new Bible study. These activities will help you draw near to God so you can experience fulfillment in Him.
3. Remove yourself from problems before they start. Make a commitment to avoid those situations in which you are tempted to seek temporary gratification. If your downfall is shopping at the mall, go only when you have a legitimate need. If you are a sucker for mail-order catalogs, don’t even open them before throwing them away. If you look to entertainment for your feel-goods, restrict the frequency of your restaurant or movie outings. Break the control these hindrances have over you by controlling your contact with them.
Have you been trying to find lasting happiness in temporary pleasures? If so, you are eating a greasy burger and fries when you could be dining on lobster and prime rib! But as you learn to depend less and less on things, you will find the clarity of satisfaction like you’ve never known before.
[Excerpt taken from: From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out © 2007 by Nancy Twigg, published by Standard Publishing (www.standardpub.com). Used by permission.]
Nancy Twigg is an author and speaker who loves inspiring women to live more simply. She is the author of three books and the editor of Counting the Cost Ezine. To learn more about Nancy’s speaking and writing ministry, visit her online at www.keepitsimplesister.com