I’m going to test your imagination. Imagine 7.5 million people. That’s a lot right? Now imagine all their eyes on you. You are an Olympic athlete. Seriously, you are an Olympic athlete and for the last however many years of your life, you’ve been training for this one moment. Imagine being right at the start line, seeded to win first, you can hear your competitors breathing right next to you, and you are anticipating the gun shot. You’re on the diving board, your fate contingent upon the exact way to jump, twist, and plunge into the water. You stand on that board, bouncing up and down, and all the practice you put into this one dive runs through your head. Can you imagine the pressure? All those eyes on you, your family, your coach, your team mates, your country- they’re all watching you and expecting you to be perfect. This is the Olympics, after all. In that moment, your heart is pounding and the adrenaline is pumping through your body and all you want is to be the fastest person in the world, the best diver, the most talented person, the gold medalist, and so on. All you want is to be the best, the only thing you want, the one single thing you SO SO passionately desire is to be the best. The possibility of you standing on that podium, having the official put the gold around your neck, and listening to your national anthem as everyone applauds you- now that’s the dream.
I can’t fathom being an Olympic athlete. I can’t fathom the pressure and I can’t fathom the glory. Which is alright though, because I do zero varsity sports in college :D I do think, though, we can relate to the feeling of just so badly wanting something. What is it that you want? Fill in the blank. If I just had _____, I would be happy. Losing 10 pounds? Being liked by your co-workers? Being smart enough? Pretty enough? Getting a great job? Having a bit more money? Do you know what I mean? So often, we’re convinced that there is ONE thing and that it’ll bring us joy, and we chase it ‘til our feet bleed because without that, we feel so unfulfilled. As you anticipate the gun shot, with every single fiber in your body, you want to win. I’m not an Olympic athlete, and I know you aren’t either, but can you relate to the feeling? It’s a terribly frustrating life to always want something so desperately and never feel satisfied.
Why is it that we feel like we always want more? I argue that it’s because we want that glory. Can you imagine that gold medal being put around your neck? Imagine being saturated head to toe with approval and admiration. Millions of people just wanting to have your talent, millions of people acknowledging that you are the best, you are number one in the world. Now imagine something so much greater. What if I told you that there exists something that makes a gold medal seem like nothing at all. Would you believe me if I told you that this thing.. you can have it? The glory that I’m talking about is something greater than the glory of a gold medal. It’s the glory of God.
“I can’t have the glory of God.” I thought that too, but let me tell you what I’ve learned. It’s true that we can’t EARN the glory of God, humans are nowhere near perfect and there’s just no way you could argue that we deserve such a great thing. However, because God knew that, he sent his son to die on the cross for us as a replacement, so that when he looked at us, instead of seeing our problems, he could see the righteousness of Jesus instead. Jesus’ perfection replaces our imperfection. God shared his glory with us, and when we understand how to invest our life in Christ we get to experience that glory. We get the approval from the only one that needs to approve us and we get to feel what is means to be loved beyond what our minds can fathom. When we are satiated with the glory of God, we stop feeling empty and we stop chasing and running, and at last, we stop imagining. We stop desperately trying to make ourselves better. We stop saying “if only I had THIS, I’d be happy."
So Cindy, you’re always happy? You never seek the approval of others? You never feel empty and unsatisfied and chase unhealthy things? Haha, if only that were true. If only if only. I mess up and sometimes I forget that my identity as a child of God brings me joy. Sometimes I’m too easily satisfied with just having good grades or being liked by a guy. I’m imperfect and flawed to the very core of my being, but I’ve found the secret to being satisfied. I’ve found that there is only one thing worth chasing and one kind of glory worth having, and slowly but surely, I’m learning to fill myself with that.