Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What Remains

"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Everyone is looking for deep satisfaction. We want to be filled with something more than mediocre, more than ordinary. Most of us say we want to be happy. Some of us claim a desire to leave a legacy by impacting the world in a positive way. But all of us, regardless of the mode in which we choose to find it, want fulfillment. We want more than mere survival.

Most people, though, would probably admit to not having found it yet. They would acknowledge a sense of emptiness or futility even in the midst of the most noble pursuits, such as becoming a loving spouse and parent, caring for the needy, and being devoted to hard work. Our efforts could probably be summed up by these centuries-old words of Solomon: 'Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.' (Ecclesiastes 2: 11)

We labor and toil and sweat to make a difference, to find our niche, to fill a nagging, internal void. But when the sun goes down on the day and darkness surrounds us like a cold embrace, the haunting whisper comes: 'Is this really all there is?'

The fisherman Peter must have also understood that deep desire for significance. After many individuals turned away from following Jesus, the Lord asked the remaining few if they were also going to leave. I love Peter's response: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' In other words, "Where else can I go? I need You." Peter recognized in Jesus 'something more.' He knew that in Christ lay the very fuel to ignite his soul. If he left, he'd be returning to his own futile efforts to find meaning and fulfillment apart from His Creator. There was, quite simply, nowhere else to go.

Most of us, like ancient King Solomon, resort to everything under the sun in order to fill that universal void. Some of our pursuits are noble. Others, not so much so. But the common thread uniting them all is the desire to find something -- anything -- that will remain.

After indulging in all the world had to offer, yet still unsatisfied, Solomon had this to say: "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them'... Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed... Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12: 1 & 6)

The only thing that will remain is God. And all of our efforts to find fulfillment, noble or not, if not founded in Him, will inevitably pass away. Peter understood this when he responded to Jesus' question. He knew that, apart from Christ, there is only death. Deep satisfaction, the kind that cannot pass away, has its genesis in the Creator. Jesus Christ is the answer to the cry of the human heart, offering us the delight of finding satisfaction in Him.

When we, like King Solomon and Peter, have exhausted every resource and still come up with empty hands, where will we go? To another empty well... or the fountain of life?

No comments: