I don't know about you, but I'm pulled in two directions. One part of me desires blessings – breakfast buffets loaded with fine pastries and an omlette chef at the end of the table smiling at me and asking me how I like my eggs cooked.
I want pleasure – things that taste delicious and feel good. What's more, I seek comfort. If I can get upgraded to business class on a plane ride, it makes my day. The softer the couch on which I sit, the better.
Yet there is this other part of me that cares about helping others more than meeting my own desires. I like to serve people and to help them be happy. I get jazzed if I can make someone's droopy face change into a smile.
Something in me wants to connect with others and to give them life. When I do that, I sense God's pleasure – and it radiates on down to me.
Am I unholy for living this dichotomistic existence? I don't think so. Jesus promised us an abundant life. The notion is that we'll be full of the stuff that makes us happy down in our bones. Why can't it be both?
Our hearts were made for joy. But sometimes we can lose ourselves in the search for it.
Last Thursday as we were hiking into the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, we came across a random group of people on the edge of a lava flow.
I started started talking to one of them, a guy named David. He was a refugee from life in the L.A. fashion scene. He'd moved to a remote Guatemalan village to simplify his life and to find meaning in giving to others.
"I got so tired of these red carpet events," he said, "where if everything wasn't absolutely perfect with a lady's $10,000 dress, she had a meltdown."
"First world problems," I said.
"That's right! I knew there was a better way to live," he said.
I like what Frederick Buechner said, "Neither the hair-shirt nor the soft-berth will do. The place God calls you is where your heart’s deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."