I'm Amy, and I Like Getting Gold Stars
"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." Exodus 15:13 (NIV)
Although my muscles were screaming for mercy, a simple comment from my leader infused me with renewed energy. In mid-lift, my instructor said, "Wow, Amy. I hadn't noticed before, but your shoulders are really strong."
That's all it took. Suddenly, my fatigue diminished and my determination soared. Standing straighter, I completed every rep with my weights instead of skipping some, like I usually do. I tried to hide the grin on my face and coolly acted like my performance was no big deal, even as the satisfaction of a job well done soaked into my heart.
No doubt about it. I'm a gold-star-kind-of-girl. From elementary school to seasons in weight-loss programs, I'd hold out my hand with anticipation as the literal gold stars were passed out. It sounds silly for an adult to be motivated by a seemingly trivial thing, but I've accepted it as part of my wiring. Encouragement is fuel for my tank. It makes me feel loved, stokes my fire and energizes me to go the extra mile.
I believe God created me this way, but it's also the very reason I sometimes lose my way. I start living for the temporary pleasure of affirmation — in people's words, rewards or in the way I'm accepted. Before I know it I can get tangled up in trying to win the approval of others (instead of God) or agonizing over the ways I've disappointed them.
You might think at this point I'm going to say it's wrong to live for pleasure, but I'm not. It's not wrong to live for pleasure. It's only wrong if we're looking for it from the wrong source.
Author and pastor John Piper says it this way, "Our pleasure is the measure of our treasure."
We live in a culture driven to attain pleasure. The world screams at us to find pleasure in vacations, alcohol, "me time," romance and food. Television, movies and music play non-stop messages of pleasure in unrestricted sex, endless parties and illegal substances.
I've tripped over some of these messages and believed the lie that they can permanently satisfy, but none of these sources of temporary pleasure is a treasure. Each one has an instantaneous high, but the backlash is painful and lasting. Even sticky gold stars lose their shine, eventually fading and creating a craving for more.
God has wired each one of us to desire pleasure because He alone is the source of ultimate pleasure. Everything else pales in comparison.
Let's take one aspect of His core nature ... love. Our key verse tells us God's love is unfailing: "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling" (Exodus 15:13).
Here's what other Scripture verses tell us about God's love, a true treasure that never fades away:
It's abounding. (Exodus 34:6)
It's merciful. (Psalm 25:6)
It's wonderful. (Psalm 31:21)
It's better than life. (Psalm 63:3)
It's faithful. (Psalm 89:24)
It endures forever. (Psalm 118:4)
It's rich. (Psalm 145:8)
It's everlasting. (Jeremiah 31:3)
It's patient. (I Corinthians 13:4)
It's kind. (I Corinthians 13:4)
It's wide and long and high and deep. (Ephesians 3:18)
It surpasses knowledge. (Ephesians 3:19)
God pours out His love on us for our pleasure and takes pleasure in us as we love Him. It's a beautiful cycle of lasting affirmation and the deepest pleasure for which we're all created.
Lord, let my actions aim to please You, not other people. May the pleasure I find in You satisfy my soul. Your view of me surpasses anything else I desire or pursue, so I praise Your Name and rest in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 63:2-3, "So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains." (MSG)
Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (ESV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What brings you pleasure? Do your sources of pleasure point you toward God or away from Him? How have you aimed to please others, not God, in the past?
God desires to be your top source of pleasure. Make a list of the ways He brings pleasure into your life.