This morning I saw a quote that caught me off guard. "Never settle for a God who cannot satisfy you in a prison cell," (Marshall Segal, from Desiring God's "Even When the Worst Happens"). It stopped me and caused me to take a spiritual inventory in my mind. This quote begs two particular questions : Do I find myself settling for a false, unsatisfactory God? And is my relationship with the Lord in such a place where I recognize Him alone as my true satisfaction?
Settling for something too small
We've all done it at one point or another–we've settled. Maybe it was settling for something inconsequential, like Pepsi instead of Coke. The underlying tone of settling is that we accept something with a lesser reward so that we can benefit in another way. Like settling for Pepsi rather than coke quenches your thirst in the immediate moment, though your preference is something contrary. Nevertheless, we all settle for things, and it's not always a bad thing. However, it's a grave mistake to settle for a lesser god.
Beverages don't have too much bearing on our futures. Who we choose to worship as Lord affects us now and into the echoes of eternity. We often think of our worship as a song on Sunday morning, or prayer time in the early dawn, but worship is more than that. It's allegiance. To whom do we pledge our affection? In what do we place our hope, trust, and security? Where do we pledge our allegiance?
The only proper answer is, of course, the Lord. But our psyche's often blur the lines of appropriate worship in our souls. Are you more allegiant to finding a husband than to growing in faith and knowledge of the Lord, being sanctified by His Word? Are you more affectionate toward temporal things, like a picaresque home, more degrees hanging on the wall, the perfect Instagram picture, or watching the dollar signs in your bank account grow?
The precept of self-examination is often lost on us, but it shouldn't be so. While Satan is not particularly clever, he is persistent. Like a fox looking for a hole in chicken wire, he will seize the opportunity he sees. If we aren't actively looking at the fabric of our soul, acknowledging the holes in our chicken wire along with the due diligence to repair it, we surely will get swept away into false worship. If we're not careful we will settle for a small god, one who doesn't satisfy us for any longer than a fleeting moment.
Settling in God's Sufficiency
Just like settling can mean to negotiate ourselves into a lesser reward, it can also mean to resolve, relaxing in a certain privilege. Settling in a home. Settling in a job. Settling into a routine. In this kind of settling, we don't lose out on any type of reward–in fact, the settling is the reward.
While we have the opportunity to settle in many things in this life, settling in God's sufficiency is the only source of satisfaction for us. Settling into God is the recognition that He is our reward. Our prize. Our Lord. When we resolve to love God, we set ourselves up for that coveted satisfaction in a prison cell. When we resolve to settle into a relationship with the Lord, in return we get a new, superior understanding of what is sufficient for our life and happiness: Jesus Christ is the only source of our joy. Psalm 42 paints a picture for us on the sufficiency of God and the satisfaction that can be found in Him.
"Why, my soul, are you so dejected?
Why are you in such turmoil?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him,
my Savior and my God.
I am deeply depressed;
therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan
and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar." Psalm 42: 5-6
Amid sorrow, the Psalmist is satisfied. He is not blinded by the fog of suffering, but instead he persistently peers through the darkness, seeing the silhouette of God's goodness. And in that, he is satisfied. He causes himself to remember the past, recalling the goodness that God has done for him. In this posture he praises the Lord. He does not turn a blind eye nor deaf ear to the billows rushing over him, he simply settles into the Lord, knowing that He is good.
Like the psalmist, may we be satisfied in spite of the waves that crash overhead. As Christians living in a world that constantly beckons us to wander from the throne, we must resolve to take spiritual inventory of our shortcomings, practicing the precept of self-examination. As we grow in holiness through the imparted righteousness of Christ, may we ever increase our satisfaction in Him.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.