You can tell what our hearts long for by our screen savers. Perhaps they show coastal vistas, with people lounging by azure pools. Or maybe they reveal windswept cliffs and craggy hills, the kind a certain kind of tourist loves to scale. They could also show charming towns, filled with picture-perfect shops selling the best bread imaginable. One way or another, we are drawn to a vision of serenity.
But no place on earth knows pure calmness. People in every place, however appealing, have what Jonathan Edwards calls “great necessities,” and beyond this, serious challenges. He points to countries that suffer drought, or floods, or a lack of light; we can extend the point, and acknowledge crippled economies, natural disasters, and troubled politics in the places we yearn to visit. Nowhere is without need; nowhere is without trouble of some kind.
By his grace, the Lord at once wants us to know both satisfaction and deprivation. We should want to visit lovely destinations. But we must also know that we cannot find lasting serenity or fulfillment without God. We, too, have huge, gaping needs. More than any psychological matter, we need the Lord. It is right that we observe the places and peoples of this world and see how they lack essential elements. But we must turn from there to ourselves. We need God. Thankfully, we have him today, whatever the screen saver shows, whether a vacation beckons us or not.
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10)
-Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 316.