This is a blog post that I wrote back in April 2018 (perhaps one of the most difficult months of my entire life), but it’s worth reposting again (with some slight revisions) and perhaps reading again…
Like Sand Through Our Fingers
My wife and I are originally from Pensacola, Florida. When we have time and opportunity, we like to visit our hometown and stroll through the downtown area and walk on the very famous Pensacola Beach. The sand there is white. Indeed, if you’re originally from up north, the very first time you encounter white sand, your mind interprets such an oddity as snow…at least that’s what my brain did. But this sand is white, beautiful, and on a hot Florida day, will scorch your feet.
When I encounter such white sand, I always do the same thing…I’ll bend down and pick up the biggest handful I can muster. Do you know what happens when I do this? Inevitably, the sand will begin to run through the cracks of my fist; and as I slowly release this clump of sand, the rest of it will quickly and decisively throw itself back to the ground.
You know, I’m convinced that our attempts at finding ultimate joy, beauty, and satisfaction in this world are a lot like my attempts to hold this white Florida sand. Inevitably, all that we try to grab in this life for ultimate satisfaction runs through the cracks of our fist and leaves us empty and dry. Do you know what I mean? Perhaps this describes you right now. Are you desperately clinging to this life (family, work, money, land, education, travel) hoping for ultimate happiness? Like sand through your fingers, such attempts will leave you with nothing.
Stars In the Night Sky
So, like fools starring in our own parade, we look for bigger and bigger thrills. Indeed, I am convinced that mankind is in an unending pursuit of one powerful drug…wonder! We want to be amazed, inspired, and wowed by something that is so far beyond us, yet easily obtainable by us. We are creatures desperate for wonder…for amazement. We look to the stars on a chilly, clear evening and we make our wishes for happiness, treasure, or love. But even if we got these dreams to come true, would it ever be enough? I think not…
Satan’s Stunning Offer of Everything
One of the most amazing events recorded in the Sacred Text centers around the person and offer of Satan. You’ll remember the story… “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil” (Matthew 4:1). Remember the three temptations of Satan towards Jesus? The third and final temptation blows my mind the most… “Again, the Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me'” (Matthew 4:8-9).
Do you realize what Satan was offering Jesus?! One word: Everything. Jesus was offered “all the kingdoms of the world AND their glory.” Jesus was offered it all…Jesus was offered all that this world has to offer in terms of joy, beauty, and satisfaction. And how did Jesus respond… “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” What? Why? How would you have responded if Satan legitimately offered you everything your heart so desperately craves?
Jesus and His Humble Forfeiture
Jesus once said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” It’s a fair question. But think about the direct implication of this question. Jesus was and is forcing people to choose: This world OR me? Jesus is essentially asking, “Do you want ‘all the kingdoms of this world and their glory’ OR do you want me?”
“Isn’t this a false dichotomy?” “Can’t I have both?” “Can’t I have sand, stars, and all the happiness that this world has to offer AND my Jesus too?” “Do I really have to choose?”
Yes, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” You can’t have this world and Jesus too. You just can’t. You must make a decision. Unfair? Too much pressure to decide? Maybe, but that’s the reality we all face.
The Curious Case of Solomon
The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live on planet earth can also vouch for the need to choose between this world (and its glory) and God (and His glory). In his book entitled, Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes his pursuit of joy, beauty, and satisfaction via the Highway of Sand and Stars. He said, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind…” (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).
What is Solomon saying here? Simply put, at the end of the Highway of Sand and Stars is mere emptiness that will leave you thirsty for more. Oh, you’ll have fun and enjoy yourself, but (in the end) you’ll remain empty. Laughter, wine, houses, gardens, cattle, sex, and song were not enough to satisfy the longing and aching of Solomon’s heart. Indeed, he had it all…and it still wasn’t enough…
Our Schizophrenic Pursuit of Satisfaction
As a local church pastor, I meet so many people who are on this quest for ultimate satisfaction. They try to fill a Gospel-sized hole with anything and everything except Jesus. But it’s Jesus alone that will satisfy. Do you believe that? Will you choose to believe it again?
Friend, I know it sounds cliché, and perhaps some nut jobs out there have tainted this message with their presentation of it, but the truth remains, Jesus (and a dynamic, deep relationship with Him) is the ONLY thing that will satisfy the cravings of your heart. Nothing else will satisfy. Not food, drink, pills, sex, education, children, houses, vacations, chocolate, movies, songs, power, fame, money, or any other experience this world has to offer will satisfy your longings.
Indeed, think about it, the Highway of Sand and Stars was never meant to satisfy the deepest longings of your soul. Perhaps this highway was just meant to stir your soul toward greater and deeper affections? Perhaps, by the grace of God, at the end of the Highway of Sand and Stars is Jesus Himself wooing you to something better? I mean, just ask the Wise Men. What was at the end of their literal Highway of Sand and Stars?
I beg of you, quit the schizophrenic pursuit of satisfaction by looking to the “kingdoms of this world and their glory.” Look instead to your Savior, Jesus Christ, and with bold faith say to Him, “I can’t see you now. I can’t hold you now. But I’ll worship you and serve you with love and passion.” And in the end, such a life won’t be sand running through your fingers, or some shooting star in the night sky, no, it will be life, joy, blessing, and glory forevermore.