blogs about awakening
how much is enough?
For whatever reason, in recent days, the sweet, melodious song from the 70s by the brother and sister team called The Carpenters has been swirling on my mind. The song? “Top of the World.”
Here are the lyrics:
"Such a feelin's comin' over me
There is wonder in 'most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream
"Everything I want the world to be
Is now comin' true especially for me
And the reason is clear, it's because you are here
You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen
"I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world
"Somethin' in the wind has learned my name
And it's tellin' me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There's a pleasin' sense of happiness for me
"There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here"
Don’t we all dream for this sort of perfection, utopia, eternal bliss?
In some ways, it is totally right to have these aspirations. After all, we were created to live in Eden forever with God in eternal bliss. But, in the midst of utopia, we humans began to long for more, more, more. We wanted to be like God, so we took the bait offered us by Satan. Rather than trusting our Heavenly Father’s kindness, we chose poorly and mankind has suffered greatly ever since.
It is a truism that those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it. Well, we haven’t learned from our ancestors’ bad choices. We humans continue to look for life on our own rather than trusting God to daily meet our needs. Even we Christ-followers, grateful as we are for our free “ticket” to heaven when we die, we still are tempted to feel we need something more. “I need that achievement, that promotion, that vacation home, that marriage, that graduation, that next drink, that video game, that . . . . (you fill in the blank).”
Back to Karen Carpenter. The other half of The Carpenters was Karen’s older brother Richard. While starting small, they soon made it big, very big. They had it all: fame, riches, popularity. Karen’s singing voice is still considered by critics in our day one of the best female vocalists of all time.
But, despite all they had, it was never enough. Tragically, Karen had a succession of failed love relationships, including a marriage that she ended shortly after it began. Her self-image suffered from all this pain and she became anorexic. No counseling was sufficient to turn things around. Her weight dropped below 90 pounds and resulted in her dying of heart failure at the young age of 32.
Separately, Richard became dependent on prescription drugs that necessitated him going into treatment for a year. He is still alive, but says he misses his sister greatly.
Is the story of The Carpenters a unique one? By no means. Think of the tragic lives lived out by most of Hollywood’s stars and many sports stars and business and governmental leaders. The divorces, drug and alcohol addictions, depressions, suicides.
What is the answer?
I think of St Augustine’s profound truth which he learned the hard way after himself living so much of his early life for his own carnal desires: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Some things in life are counter-intuitive. We think joy comes by doing whatever we want to do. The reality is that lasting joy surprisingly comes as we do what we should be doing from God’s point of view. As a juvenile court judge, I saw a microcosm of this truth played out almost daily. Kids would come before me who were totally out of control: not going to school, not obeying mom and dad at home etc. They came into my courtroom anything but joyful. I would threaten them with detention in our locked facility. They would inevitably plead with me for a second chance. Sometimes I would choose to extend some mercy and would say something like, “Ok, come back here in 3 weeks. But if you are still not doing what you are supposed to be doing, bring your toothbrush when you return, because you aren’t going home!” Often, in the intervening time they would clean up their act. When they returned, they almost always looked like different kids! They were almost giddy with joy. Why? Because they were doing the right thing and that brings joy!
The ultimate joy comes as we connect with our Heavenly Father and seek to obey His leading in our lives by His power. He will often allow trials in our lives (like the threatened and/or real pain I imposed on juveniles in my court) to get our attention and drive us back to Him.
God, please help us to seek you wholeheartedly and there to find your wonderful presence that is the ultimate place of joy.
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He is the executive director of The Grand Awakening.