There was an extremely large, messy hole in my backyard. I watched workers dig deeper and deeper, anxiously waiting for the day they would fill it with concrete, then a liner, then crystal clear water. I pictured my children splashing happily and jumping off the diving board with their friends. I pictured outdoor barbecues and late night swims and endless summers.
This was it. The thing that was finally going to make me happy. At one time I thought a huge trampoline would create our perfect backyard paradise. And some days it did. When it wasn’t covered in snow. Or when it wasn’t too hot. Or too cold. Or when I wasn’t too busy to play with my kids. Until the Kansas wind decided to rip it from the ground, stakes and all, crush it into a giant aluminum foil ball, and hurl it at our neighbor’s house. I also thought the enormous swing set would have done it, but the kids rarely played on it. Mostly because I never made time to go out there with them, and then a Midwest “microburst” destroyed it. But this in-ground pool couldn’t be destroyed by the wind. Take that, Kansas!
But it turns out Kansas wasn’t the one fighting with me.
There was definitely a large, messy hole, but it wasn’t just in my backyard. It was in my soul. And I was determined to fill the void with anything and everything I could.
When the pool was finally finished, I waited for the joy to take over. But it never really did. There were fun moments, but there were also countless hours spent cleaning the pool, fixing various parts, and wishing for better weather. There were a few outdoor barbecues, but there were more wistful stares as I rushed off to the next commitment.
I finally gave up my pool, along with the rest of my over-done lifestyle, when I realized it was never going to live up to my expectations.
God was whispering to my heart – stop trying to create joy and start enjoying creation.
These days, the pursuit of enjoying creation often leads me to long walks on the beach. During one such walk, I saw a man with a metal detector, searching the sand for hidden treasure. Each time it detected a new object, it went crazy, beeping ecstatically. He got very excited, dug up the thing he was sure he wanted, and then carelessly tossed it aside moments later. Again and again, he was constantly seeking, finding, throwing away. It was so familiar it brought tears to my eyes.
We are hard-wired to chase, made to crave, created to worship. We will naturally do these things one way or another. The question is where are we pointing our joy detectors? Toward the next shiny object the world offers us?
Is that working?
Not for me. Not anymore. Instead of providing joy, the world was constantly letting me down while expecting a higher payment for the next big find.
You know what is working? Jesus. When I let go of seeking the world’s treasures, and felt the rejection and loss that came with that decision, He was there to catch me.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world… ~John 15:18-19
Belonging to the world provides only temporary joy, followed by a series of disappointments. And then we’re off chasing the next temporary high. But being chosen by Jesus? Belonging to Him? It’s an endless source of constant fulfillment. Only He can completely satisfy.
Swing sets splinter in the wind.
Pools are expensive holes that should be dug only if the inner void is already filled.
It’s not that I shouldn’t ever have these things. It’s that I shouldn’t have placed so much value on them. I shouldn’t have expected temporary objects to make me happy.
Only He is permanent. Not because I’m perfect at tuning in every day – I’m not. But because He is always there when I make the intentional choice to be with Him. Sometimes I get in my own way, and I have to ask Him to show me what’s wrong. And patiently wait. But He’s still there – on my good days and my bad days – filling the void with His love. Always.
Point your joy detector toward God and watch it go crazy. Good crazy. Satisfying crazy. Follow the ecstatic beeping in your heart. Uncover the one thing you are sure you always wanted – the feeling you were hard-wired to chase. Carelessly throw away the disapproval of the world, and hold close the one treasure worth keeping.
Enjoy the freedom of never having to fill the void again.