It was the first time I’d ever stood up in front of our church congregation, some fifteen years ago. Alongside our fellow “new members,” my husband and I looked out over the church body we were joining, as our pastor read our favorite Bible verses aloud and introduced us by name. Never one to go first, I listened from the end of the line as one inspirational verse after another was read into the microphone, each one offering another shade of affirmation, encouragement, and faith. But as I listened for the first time to the verses of other new congregants, I felt panic set in: Had I misunderstood the instruction? The sound of my blood pumping in my ears grew louder, nearly drowning out my pastor’s voice completely, until my husband gently squeezed my hand to hear my own “favorite verse” from Scripture:
“There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work.
I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,
because who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from him?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25).
In all of Scripture, with its sweeping poetry and prose, that was “my verse”—is my verse, I should say. In that moment of pride, I began to doubt my seemingly simple choice. I was afraid that, out of context, it misrepresented my faith and understanding of the gospel and downplayed my affection for God. I’ve since come to realize just how accurately it still reflects my relationship with Him and the sin that so often distracts me from Him: my heart’s unfortunate tendency to wander.
I’m easily distracted, you see. By work. By striving. By perfectionism of the textbook-definition variety. And when I get caught up in working and worrying, spinning myself into a cycle that pushes God away from the center of my heart’s affections—that’s when He reminds me of what’s true. He gently squeezes my heart in such a way that I’m forced to acknowledge the emptiness I’m feeling, the deep ache I work so hard to numb with the distraction of productivity, when I try to live my life with my gaze affixed on anyone or anything “apart from him” (John 15:5).
The Westminster Shorter Catechism posits that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In my own walk with God, I’ve tended to focus on the first part, on what it might mean to glorify Him. I’ve twisted the idea of bearing His image into a works-based, legalistic, shallow religion that has very little to do with my God.
But to enjoy Him. To be satisfied in Him. To delight in His Word. To stop and savor His provision and the work He’s called me to, not just for what they might become in the future, but for what they are today—well, that sings of enjoying relationship with my very relational God, the one who is ready to answer when we call out to Him, when we seek Him with all our heart (Psalm 119:145). His Word is a very precious gift that instructs us on how to best live this life He’s given us (v.153). And it is clear: in knowing Him, being in His presence, there is abundant joy and eternal pleasure. But apart from Him, we will never be satisfied (Psalm 16:11). This is the instruction my wandering heart so desperately needs.
Written by Kara Gause