When you think about the word pleasure, what comes to mind? For some people perhaps your mind goes to a relaxing time, spending a day on the lake fishing or camping with family. For others it might be having fun with friends at the bar, enjoying a movie with a special someone, or a candle lit dinner with your spouse. This summer, God has been taking me on a journey exploring what it means to have fun and be happy, and I want to share a bit of my journey with you.
At the Free Methodist Church in Canada General Conference this year, our Bishop (Keith Elford) was asked the question, "What do you think is the unique defining issue facing the church in Canada?" His answer was "The Idolatry of pleasure", the idea that we idolize (give our time, energy, and love to) the pursuit of pleasure more than we do to our savior Jesus. Our conference was in May, and as I've been going about my days this summer, I've been examining my own heart to see where I spend my energy, my time, and my money. The result? I've got some work to do…
What I've noticed in my life is an unhealthy addiction to pleasure. Now, this isn't the type of addiction where you shake or perspire if you go too long without a fix, rather this is the type of addiction which manifests itself slowly, over time, and often without notice (kinda like a caffeine addiction). As I looked at my behavior this summer I realized that I have a tendency to yearn. By this I mean that when I was working, or doing something I would rather not do, I was constantly looking forward to my next "pick-me-up". This could be as simple as a slurpee or as big as a weeklong family vacation. The point is that I was pushing through my work just to survive until my next jolt of "pleasure". I would work hard, do the unpleasant things in life, and then find myself yearning again for my next pleasure fix; a cycle that left me feeling unfulfilled and generally unhappy (not to mention the emotional roller coaster this can bring).
What I think God has been teaching me through all of this is to live in the moment, both the times of work and the times of pleasure. I believe God wants me to give Him thanks, even when I'm tired, or grumpy and this then allows my times of pleasure to be nourishing to my soul and body rather than a quick fix. When I live in the moment with God, I find myself content with where I'm at no matter the situation. I find my mood stabilizes significantly, and I find the flow of my life to be more even, more stable than simply jumping from pleasure mountaintop to mountaintop.
I've still got lots of work to do in this area, and I am constantly catching myself slipping back into the routine of yearning for pleasure, but I want to challenge you. Do you walk with God in the moment of your life? Do you let Him set the pace and tone for your day? Or do you find yourself jumping from one emotional/pleasure peak to the next while you push through the less enjoyable parts of life?