By Erin Bird
Last November, I slipped away from my daily routine to have my annual overnight spiritual retreat. I remember the sun streaming through the windows while a heavy frost lie upon the cold ground outside. My van was completely frosted over, yet I happily sat inside with a blanket on my feet, a hot tea on the table before me, and my Bible in my lap.
It was so refreshing. It was so peaceful. It was so quiet…
…except for the fly.
There were several dead flies lying in the window sills of all the front windows, but one had managed to outlive his compatriots. His constant buzzing and slamming into the wind revealed that he felt trapped. He wanted nothing more than to return to the outdoors from where he came. He longed for food, he longed for the fresh air, he longed to find some dead raccoon carcass to feed upon. And so he repeatedly buzzed, “let me out of here!”
What he didn’t realize, though, is that the escape he longed for, what he thought would give him life, would actually be the death of him. He unknowingly had a death wish.
Frozen Fly, Frozen Lives
I think humans are a bit like that fly. We often think that our happiness will be found in something else. We think if we can just escape the confines of our job, or marriage, or ministry, we will find freedom. But instead, what we find awaiting us is death – or at least a worst place than our previous spot.
[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]The husband has an affair because he thinks he is confined in his marriage. He wants to find joy and awe and freedom, and thinks that will be found in the arms of another woman, but soon he is trapped in trying to keep the affair hidden. And eventually it leads him to feeling emotionally cold or dead.
[list_item]Or the woman who betrays all of her friends through gossip thinks she just needs to escape to a new set of friends. But when she destroys those relationships as well, she is left emotionally frozen and lifeless.
[list_item]I see this in myself. Too often I think my enjoyment of life will come through pleasure. I long for the next movie or game or moment of relaxation or sex or dessert (yes, I’m looking at you ice cream), thinking THAT is what will make me happy and free. But I’ve noticed that the movie ends or the bowl gets emptied… And life goes on. I didn’t find freedom. In fact, I may feel may frozen than before (especially when the movie is a major disappointment… Yes, I’m looking at you Godzilla).[/list_item]
Psalm 145, though, makes it so clear where true life, true freedom, true enjoyment comes from. In fact, verse 19 sums the Psalm up:
[God] fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
He also hears their cry and saves them.
When I make something other than God my escape (whether movies or games or food), those things are like wintry air to a fly. They can’t give me what I truly need and long for. They will only contribute to inner petrification.
But when God is my cabin, when I find my safety and joy in him, I realize He sustains me. It is He who fulfills my desires. And when He is my source of joy, then I can enjoy a movie, because it actually leads me to worship and be in awe of the Creative One. I find food not something designed to satisfy my soul, but rather a conduit of worship to the one who gave me the food.
So to the husband who feels trapped in his marriage: may you not escape to the frozen arms of another lover, but may you run to the One who can fulfill your desires and change your marriage into something that causes you to worship Him.
To the gossiping woman who has damaged her relationships: may you lose the “awe” of the bad things everyone else has done and replace it with an awe of the One who completes every relationship you have.
And to people like me, who long for pleasure and comfort: may you cry out to Jesus, knowing that only He can truly fulfill the desires of your heart. May you stop buzzing against the window of games or sex or drink or money, but rather find life in the safety of the cabin of the gospel, through which everything else leads you to be in awe of God.