I just got back from a two-week missions trip in Cali, Colombia. While we were there we helped build a church, attended a lot of church prayer meetings and did a lot of street witnessing. I couldn’t help but notice how happy those folk were with what they had juxtaposed with how unhappy we seem to be with all we have.
This isn’t the first time I noticed the dichotomy, the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic reflected the same values to me several years ago. Despite many having what we in America would call virtually nothing, they possessed something much more valuable — peace.
In Mark chapter 4, Jesus warns us about the “worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things,” and how those things can choke out our fruitfulness as followers of Christ.
In a culture becoming more and more materialistic we sense the desperate cries of emptiness rising to shrill proportion. An entire culture seeking their happiness through the next purchase, the next business deal, the next conquest or even the next religious event. A new auto, even the one with all the bells and whistles, won’t buy long-term peace or happiness. Even things that are good on their own — family, friends, and yes even church — will not fill the space that only faith in Christ can rightfully occupy.
I return again wondering at the absolute greatness of a God who gives us a relationship with him if we ask. I marvel at his presence in prayer when we seek him with all our heart. I am thankful that this very morning I awoke because he allowed it with his protection last night, keeping myself and those who I love safe.
The worries of the world will always be — paying bills, saving for college, keeping in some semblance of shape and all the things that this life entails, and sometimes we even cross the line into the deceitfulness of riches. Money and things do temporarily afford us comfort and the like. But never is the desire for other things permissible in the lives of people of faith. Why? Because there are always “other things.” Pursuing “other things” becomes a deadly game of drinking salt water, that eventually dries our joy and peace. Unfortunately, a dryness I see pervasive in our culture but praise be to God who, through his son, offers us the peace we lack.