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Stop Asking What’s Next

Life accomplishments often leave me slightly disappointed and disoriented as I stumble again towards what's next, only to face more dissatisfaction.

After my freshman year of college, I spent my summer working at a bird seed store. Needless to say, I also spent most of that summer counting down the days until I could be back with my friends at school and never see a bag of bird seed again.

And before that, when I was in middle school, I couldn’t wait to get into high school (thanks to Zac Efron and the cast of High School Musical). A couple years into high school and I was ready for the freedom and independence that comes with college. Now, entering my senior year of college, I’m looking forward to the next stage of life that hopefully involves a job, apartment and even more independence.

There’s something wrong with that last sentence. I’m entering my final year, but I’m already looking ahead to what comes after that. That’s a whole year of living that I’ll completely miss out on unless I decide to change something fast.

Maybe you’re like me and you realize you’ve spent most of your life looking forward to the next stage. And when that stage finally arrived, it wasn’t everything you thought it would be. In fact, maybe you’ve reached a major milestone in your career or started a new relationship, and your first thought was, I thought it would feel different.

Coming Up Empty

I’m realizing that seeking excitement and fulfillment from the things I accomplish in life is just about as effective as trying to put out a house fire with water from a straw. These accomplishments instead leave me slightly disappointed and disoriented as I stumble again towards the next achievement, only to face the same result.

I was recently amazed by a video from I Am Second featuring Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson. She boldly shared about how even as she stood at the pinnacle of her sport with a gold medal around her neck, she felt like she had failed by only winning one instead of four. If gold and fame aren’t enough to satisfy us in a world that demands perfection, then what is??

Even C.S. Lewis, one of the most famous Christian authors of all time, knew about discontentment. He perfectly described our quest for fulfillment when he wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Eternal Contentment

Instead of pushing me to seek satisfaction in other worldly pursuits, the fact that I’m never completely content in my stage of life points me towards my end goal of eternal contentment. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to enjoy life where we are.  He didn’t design us to live for disappointment; He gave us life that was meant to be lived in abundance. The seasons of celebration and excitement are like taste tests of the everlasting fullness we will have in His presence.

And yet, Jesus is still active in our times of discontent, impatience and frustration. When our new adventure starts to feel stale, He’s there to teach us about the importance of the mundane. When we’re straining to see what’s around the corner, He gently pulls us back and points out the beauty around us that we would have failed to see. And at the end of our lives when we see him face to face, we finally realize the fulfillment that puts a gold medal to shame.

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