Never enough: Why we always want more
During our honeymoon, my wife and I took a road trip to Niagra Falls. We ate out almost every meal. It was a dream at first. We would stop wherever we felt like it, feasted, and moved on.
But over time, something very interesting happened.
Eating out became normal. I still remember the place it hit me for the first time. I got bored with the food choices, annoyed with the taste and tired of à la carte. I didn’t want to believe it at first and chucked it off as a weird mood. But it kept on happening for the rest of our trip.
The next big thing
Like my food experience, everything we long for in this world will get stale if we get too much of it. The excitement wears off and the novelty changes into a familiar routine. While there is satisfaction in the constant, it can’t give the edge we longed for in the first place. It’s exciting in our heads but our imagined experiences always turn out to be a lot better than reality.
The ecstasy we experience from novelty comes from the unknown. The push-and-pull between uncertainty and promise is responsible for our rush. Our brain is drenched in a cocktail of endorphins drugged up to believe it’s experiencing the ultimate.
But once the danger is gone and we know it’s safe, the thrill takes a hike. Soon, we’ll start to long for something new again, whether that’s doing 90 on the freeway or sipping that barrel-aged lager next to the fire pit behind our house.
Meeting Christ for the first time gives us a rush we never had before. We see the world through new eyes and want to learn everything we can about Christ and his people. We hang out in church on Sundays, go to Bible study on Wednesdays and even make the prayer meeting on Fridays. We’re so pumped that we can’t wait to get to the next meeting or put our nose back into the good book.
But eventually, we start to miss the meetings. We burnt through the novelty like paper in a fire pit. All of a sudden, we go to church only once a month. We stare at the ashes of our passion and we ask ourselves what happened. Weren’t we on fire for the gospel?
Don’t worry if that’s you. In fact, it’s all of us. This pattern is so common because it’s human. There is a whole interpretation of the Song of Songs that depicts our initial rise and fall quite well. It’s often dismissed as a preacher’s way to avoid talking about explicit sex scenes from the pulpit. Even though there is truth in it, the allegorical interpretation gives us a lot of hope in acknowledging that humans are not perfect.
The Shulamite stands for each member in the body of Christ. We tell Jesus about our great love but bail out on him when push comes to shove. Jesus calls us to trust him, to follow to through rough terrain. But we tell him to go alone (SONG 2:8-17). But even though we let him down, he continues to affirm us, be our strength and encourage us to move forward (SONG 4:1-8). He knows we see only the beginning of the story.
What matter now is if we can keep the fire alive. Can we get the logs to burn long and deep, work through our issues and let the consistency of his word change us? Like a fire that burns for many hours, a deep change takes time and a heart that says yes.
Christianity is more than just a habit or a tradition. It’s more than the logical conclusion of the existence of a creator. It even goes beyond escaping hell and entering heaven. Christianity is God’s offer of friendship.
And friendship takes time.