We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased (“The Weight of Glory“).
Sadly, the “ignorant child” who is satisfied with making mud pies in a slum far too often describes me. It is staggering, though, that I haven’t learned from history. Time and again God has invited me to a “holiday at sea,” and I’ve responded positively, only to discover that it was, in fact, far better than making mud pies. But then, for some unknown reason, I keep needing convincing that His next invitation also leads to something better.
I think this is because, partly, I get nostalgic about the slum in which I am living. I also get to thinking that I know better than God; that one of these days He’s going to trick me by inviting me to a holiday at sea, only to discover upon arriving that it is not a holiday at sea, but an exile to a life of monotony. It’s all folly, of course – and betrays a total lack of trust and, more significantly, true selfless love for my Savior.
I also need reminding that my life on this earth is not defined by seeking to live the comfortable life, but by being stretched to the max as I seek to bring comfort to others – including God – ultimately setting my gaze toward “a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Heb 11:16). Indeed, as the author of Hebrews declares, we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (11:13), and have the opportunity to receive the “promise” that all those who have gone before us were unable to receive (11:39-40).
This is true not only of the big issues in life, of course, but also the mundane. As Ellen White notes, “We give our time and thought to the trivial and commonplace things of the world, and neglect the great interests that pertain to eternal life” (Sons and Daughters of God, p. 107).
Perhaps there is no greater illustration of this dynamic than the so-called “prodigal son,” who sought what he perceived to be a better life. God, in His mercy, however, finally got him to the bottom of his resources and to the place where he realized that there was something better. Living in a ravished land, feeding swine, and close to competing with them for their pods, Jesus poignantly describes how the young man finally “came to himself” (Luke 15:17) and realized that to even be a servant in his father’s household was far better than eating pods in the slums.
I get in trouble if I don’t remind myself often that I am, by default, that prodigal every day of my life. Being a prodigal is not simply living a hellion lifestyle, but being human. And thus, I have to “come to myself” every morning when I wake up, and continuously respond to God’s invitation for a holiday at the sea.