by Matt Papa
If we were honest, most of us would admit we wished our lives were set to a soundtrack written by Hans Zimmer — the most epic, romantic thing imaginable. But, alas, they are not. The soundtrack of most of our lives might be sprinkled occasionally with a few of those Hallmark movie-moments, but the rising melodic line for the majority of our days sounds something like what my 5 year old would compose on the piano. Chaotic. Out of tune. Wild. Frustrating. Painful. Sigh.
We all seem to be absolutely sure that a different or better circumstance would get us out of the mucked up trenches of life, and we would finally be . . . satisfied. But would we?
The Bible teaches that all our problems in life are fundamentally worship problems (and no, I don’t mean that “joyful noise” singing voice of yours). We repeatedly aim our hopes at something God has made, rather than God himself. We desperately grasp at the shadow instead of the substance, and we are miserable. Saint Augustine essentially taught that disordered loves make disordered lives. C.S. Lewis said, “Idols break the hearts of their worshippers.”
So what is it you worship? One way you can discover it is by looking at your emotions. One theologian said our emotions are like smoke from the fire of the altar of whatever true god we worship. So, for example, think about what makes you deeply angry. Or what makes you anxious. I heard a pastor say once, “Anxiety is the result of a collapsing god.” What makes you deeply sad, despairing? All of us face sadness, but we fall into despair when our greatest treasure is out of reach or has been taken from us.
So how do we change when we see that an idealized circumstance, such as “finding the one” or “the perfect, pain-free marriage,” has become an idol? We need to see something that transcends our circumstances. Well here it is:
“Your steadfast love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3).
Heard this before? But listen to the music: better than life. Isn’t this what you’ve been seeking? For your life to have the meaning, significance, pleasure and power it ought to have?
This is the music: the love of God for you. This is what “redirects” our worship. The Gospel. Because in the Gospel we see a God who pursues us to the very point of death, and by that death purchases for us the treasures — the infinite riches — of forgiveness, redemption, righteousness and an eternal inheritance.
“Your steadfast love is better than life.”
In the Gospel we see a God who left the music of heaven — the greatest circumstance — to get down in our mundane mess and worse. He willingly came to be mocked, scorned and slaughtered. And He did it without a “Passion of the Christ” movie score underneath Him. Shouts.
“Your steadfast love is better than life.”
Hear the music: This means that the love of God is better than any of the ups and downs of your life. It is better than the best circumstances so you don’t become prideful in those. And it’s better than your most feared circumstance so you don’t become despairing in those.
“Better than life.”
Circumstances will change, by definition. But…
“Your steadfast love.”
Steadfast. Better than life.
Do you believe it today? If you do, you will begin to believe these words of Charles Spurgeon: “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”
This just might change your life, or it might be the most redundant thing you’ve ever heard, but if you’re like me, you need to hear it every day:
The respect of my boss won’t satisfy me.
More money won’t satisfy me.
Marriage won’t satisfy me.
Getting out of my marriage won’t satisfy me.
Fame gone viral won’t satisfy me.
Christ alone. Christ alone can satisfy.
By abiding in God’s love for you, not only do you get a treasure that is “better than life,” but you become bigger than life. You cut through the difficult seasons, and you give thanks through bountiful ones. You become more. But first? First you have to become less. You have to let go of your entitlement and your idea of what happiness is (which is easier to read than do), and you have to trust God. He made you. He loves you. He knows.
When we worship God first, we finally start to hear that sweeping, captivating music sung by the Great Composer himself. Hear Him whisper to your soul today, “I have set My love on you.”
Hear Him groan from the cross: “It is finished,” and your soul will finally sing, “It is well.”
Matt Papa is a minister and recording artist based out of Raleigh, N.C., where he lives with his wife, Lauren, and three daughters. He serves on staff as a worship leader at The Summit Church in Durham and is finishing a master’s degree at Southeastern Seminary. He is the author of Look & Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ.
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