One of my three daughters has to be forced to eat dessert. It's truly one of the most ridiculous things you'll ever see. I'll sit there next to her with a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven bending under its own weight in my hand, the chocolate stretching and oozing, begging her to take it and eat it, and she will start whining, "I don't want to eat it!" And what's even more frustrating is that she loves chocolate chip cookies! She has eaten them many times before, but there's still this ludicrous fight every time. Now, clearly I think that is a very foolish thing to do, but I must admit that I am guilty of something very similar - only my particular brand of stupid has more lasting and severe consequences than rejecting a cookie. God says in Deuteronomy 28:47-48:
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.
I have found this to be the case over and over in my life. I know what true happiness is. I have tasted it many times. I am most happy when I wake up eager to study God's Word in the morning, when I come before Him often in prayer throughout the day, when I delight to read what others have written about Him, and when I am being obedient to His commands. It's not just good. It's really good! I love and delight in my job in these times. I love and delight in my family. I am just happy with pretty much everything.
At some point, though, I will entertain the lie that something else will make me happy. This can be anything from video games, books, new hobbies, or whatever. And the truth that masks the lie is that these things can be very enjoyable and can be a blessing from God when enjoyed in and through a relationship with Him. That's not how it usually works with me, however.
Finding some enjoyment in such things, I start to ravenously pursue more and more until, somewhere along the way, I have lost sight of the One who is the source of all true delight. At that point, I invariably find myself serving my Enemy in hunger and thirst and nakedness, lacking everything. I've let myself fall into sin, I dislike my job, I'm unhappy around my family, and it's a chore to even get up in the mornings. Down in this pit of despair, I look around and see all the things that I thought would end up making me happy. They now form the walls of my prison. And now, sadly, from this vantage point, returning to God looks hard and distasteful.
So I sit there whining while my Father holds out the delightful prospect of true happiness and contentment. The whole episode has to look absolutely ridiculous to the heavenly court. I'm sure any onlooking angelic beings think I'm a total moron. I love cookies. I even want the cookie that's being offered. I just don't want to take it for some reason.
How long will we keep falling for the same old tricks and lies that lead us away from the only Person who can truly delight our souls? And how long will we keep stubbornly believing that we have to stay in this pit once we've dug it for ourselves. God, give us the strength and the wisdom to come back to You and to hold fast to your infinite delights.