I would characterize the joys of life in two ways. First, there are the simple joys of life. Simple joys are the simple pleasures we can experience throughout our week. No doubt there are certain things that resonate within all of us. These are those things that bring a smile to our face, a bounce to our step and they offer simple happiness to our life. These are those things that bring a certain level of satisfaction in living, they give us temporary comfort on long days and they serve as that necessary reprieve from the grueling pressures that mount about us.
For me, my simple pleasures are quite simple: I am a baseball fan. In fact, it is no secret around here that I am a St. Louis Cardinal fan. I enjoy the sights and the sounds of America’s past time. There is no greater game on planet earth than the game of baseball.
I like to ride motorcycles. There is something about getting on that iron horse and trekking down those back roads that gives me great pleasure. On a given day, one might catch of glimpse of me tooling around town on my bike sporting my boots, my leather vest, or even my doo-rag and as odd as that might sound to some of us, I enjoy being a biker.
I love the beach. If someone were to ask me to pick a vacation destination, without hesitation I would say, “I want to go to the beach” and the more secluded the better. I don’t need glitz and glamour. I don’t want to spend all my resources of time and money on tourist shops and trappings. Rather, give me a beach and a place to cover this bald head and I am happy.
I am a Skyline Chili and brownie kind of guy. My wife often asks me when we are going out for dinner, “where do you want to eat?” My response is usually, “I’m a simple man.” Which means I don’t need to spend a lot of money out at dinner? I am perfectly content with Cincinnati’s greatest comfort food, Skyline Chili. I don’t need a sophisticated desert; it’s hard to improve upon a dollar box of brownies.
What are we afraid of? Perhaps that is a question that we do not really like to reflect upon. It’s not that we do not have fears; it’s just that considering those fears causes great discomfort and we are people that thrive on being comfortable. However, regardless of how we like it, man must figure out how to cope with the fears that confronts him in life.
I could stand here this morning and try to list all the things which people fear, but I doubt I could exhaustively list all the fears of man for there are so many things that create uncertainty, insecurity and anxiety in life. Although, as we learned last week, peace in life is possible, the reality is there are so many things that rob us of God’s peace and causes us to be afraid.
Robert Browning wrote, “The year is closed, the record made, The last deed done, the last word said, The memory alone remains. Of all its joys, its griefs, its gains, And now with purpose full and clear, We turn to meet another year.”
No doubt, we need no reminder that 2010 has come to an end. We have all been made aware that a new day has dawned. Ready or not, the New Year has come. But somehow, I don’t think most carry with them the same sense of purpose and hopeful anticipation as Robert Browning. It just does not seem to me that most Americans have embraced the coming of this New Year with “purpose full and clear” for our future is ambiguously shrouded in uncertainty. Take the temperature of our nation and we will find that many express uneasiness about these troubled days in which we live and display a level of anxiety about the future.
The Bible is not silent on real life transformation. The path to fundamentally changing our lives for the best is not obscurely hidden out of sight nor is it tucked away out of our reach. For every Christian believer, the path to a transformed life is visible and within our grasp. We do not have to be the victims of circumstances for we have not been left helpless and without hope. We can change. We can be transformed into God’s best.
So let me ask some questions. Do we want God’s best? I mean do we really want to experience the best that God has to offer? Do we want to be happy? Do we really want life to be good? Do we long to experience something sweeter than merely a self-centered shallow existence? Do we want to be healthy? Are we sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are we physically, emotionally and spiritually lacking in strength and stamina? Do we want to be holy? Is there an honest desire to live a life that is well pleasing to God? Are we hungry to live physically pure and morally blameless? I wonder, do we really want God’s best?
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” And so it is with the calling extended to us in Romans chapter 12. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Indeed, this calling (offered not just to the church of Rome but to Fairfield West Baptist Church as well) is a great calling, but only if we pursue it greatly. This calling will lead us to real transformation in our lives. Unfortunately, as a culture we are often pressed to pursue the wrong things. We are a people that desire the best life has to offer. So we busy ourselves pursuing ideas of prosperity, pursuing things that we perceive that matter which often merely result in giving our lives to the obtaining of more stuff. In many cases, we clutter our lives with “stuff”.
There is real pressure upon us to change. Talk to anyone on the street and they will readily agree that we need change in our country. Regardless of which side of the political isle one may sit, when asked about the state of the affairs of our society we will hear “we need change.” Ask about the leadership in Congress, we will hear “we need change.” Ask about the troubles in our community, we will hear “we need change”. Ask about the dynamics in the home, once again we will most likely hear, “we need change.”
Today is my birthday and it got me thinking; I am another year older. In some ways, I thought by now I would have figured everything out. When I was young, I thought that by now I would be living the American dream and getting the best out of life. Well, I must admit, I am still a work in progress. Now don’t get me wrong, for me life is wonderful; I have a great wife that loves me like no other, it is fascinating to see my children grow and become incredible people and as far as vocations go, I can’t imagine doing anything else in life. But with that said, I have to recognize that the Lord is still working on me. I still have much to learn. My faith needs to grow. My walk must develop. My life has to change. When another birthday comes around I want to be a different person.