Years ago, I was nearing the end of a 5-mile morning prayer-walk I made regularly from Peet’s Coffee to our home in Livermore, CA. I’d always take the long way, through the country and vineyards during sunrise. This was one of the most influential practices in my life. It was how I became a morning person. The beauty, incremental progression, and solitude of sunrise halts my internal busyness. It is captivating to be present to it. It does wonders for my soul to be up before others and begin the day in a way that impacts how the rest of my day will unfold.
On this particular day, something tremendously significant happened. Suddenly, all of my want and desire evaporated. I felt completely satisfied. Entirely. It was unlike any other experience I had known before. I wasn’t even desiring more of the feeling of satisfaction. I was simply and wholly satisfied. I knew and rested in God’s presence and love and needed nothing else out of life, circumstances, or people. I was worried about nothing. It felt like a magnificent spotlight had been projected directly onto me and everything appeared completely clear: I saw things for what they really are rather than what I feel about them in relation to my needs.
This changed my entire life. It felt like I could point this “spotlight” wherever I looked. I faced it toward my past and became instantly aware of how I had spent my life attempting to use everything and everyone to find this fulfillment of satisfaction. Literally, everything and everyone.
I used Shawna, my wife. My closest friends. Church. Religious behaviors. My family. My focus and center had been misplaced. They were all external attempts to satisfy and internal need. Seeing this simultaneously broke and opened my heart. All frustration, insecurity, and anger in my life was the direct expression of my misplaced desire, burdening everyone and everything with the responsibility of satisfying my subconscious needs.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all your needs will be provided for you. ... The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
– Jesus, Matthew 6.33 & Luke 17.20/21
It is my belief that Jesus’ goal was never to form a new religion and call it Christianity, but He came so that everyone might have life and have it in abundance (those are His words). He spoke and taught about what is Reality, not a belief system. Whether you believe His words are true or not bares no effect on the fact that they are. He is waking us up!
If Jesus says that when we seek the kingdom of God first we will find everything we are seeking, it’s because everything we’re seeking for is really found there. For instance, we don’t really desire money. It’s painted paper and ultimately worthless. We desire what money represents to us: security, safety, and comfort. The issue is, those are internal conditions; the very place where Jesus told us the kingdom of God is found.
When we idolize money, sex, friendships, religion, or possessions, we set our gaze on the distant, external horizon; no matter how hard, far, or fast you travel to attain the happiness you’ve attached to it, it will always remain as distant from you as when you first saw it. Stop gunning for the horizon. Seek first the kingdom of God, within you.
All desire is desire for God. Whether misdirected, distorted, or misplaced, all desire is really desire for God. Jesus wakes us up to this. Living with our deepest desire fully satisfied is the abundant life He came to direct us toward. It is a true and definitive characteristic of genuine Christianity.
I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.
– Philippians 4.12