I love watching sports. It is exciting to watch the team you cheer for succeed, and on the flip side, it is painful to watch your team loose. The reason we feel this way is because the amount of time, thought, and emotion that we invest in the team. We may not be in the weight room, at practice, and playing the games, but we have analyzed the games, talked about the teams performance, and followed everything the team did through the 24-hour media that is at our disposal. This reality makes us feel like we are part of the team.
If we would pause for a moment and reflect on our role as a fan, we will realize that the thrill of victory never lasts long. There is always the next game and the next season. It is great to have the victory, but it doesn’t take long for that victory to fade away.
This fact should cause us to consider if the amount of time and energy we devout to being fans is really worth it. What is the eternal significance of being a fan of the Denver Broncos, the Iowa Hawkeyes, or the Boston Celtics?
I am not saying that we shouldn’t be fans. What I am saying is that we need to put things into proper perspective. We need to make sure our priorities are right, because if we don’t, then we will experience the emptiness of victory.
Once September rolls around, it is going to matter very little that the New England Patriots won Super Bowl 49, because a new season brings a new challenge to become #1. The significance and purpose we want out of life is not going to be found in being a fan of a team who is in constant pursuit of becoming champions.
Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist wrote a great post yesterday: The Emptiness of Sports is Most Felt in Victory. I want to encourage you to read it, because I think it is excellent.
While the whole post is good, I want to focus on this one sentence: Because sometimes, it is difficult to notice the emptiness of these pursuits until we actually obtain them.
Have you ever been there? I know that I have.
Before I met and married Jenny, I had a year long relationship with a woman from New Mexico. Entering into that relationship I had the mistaken belief that what I really needed to make my life complete was to be in a relationship that would lead to marriage. I was pursuing a relationship to fix the emptiness in my life, and what I discovered was more emptiness. That relationship could not fulfill what my heart was longing to have.
Don’t get me wrong, relationships are essential to our lives, and we need put time and effort into maintaining our marriages, our families, and our friendships. What we need to remember is that when our pursuits, even when they are “good” pursuits, leave us empty, then that means we have either pursued the wrong thing or the right thing in the wrong way.
The emptiness I experienced in that failed relationship drove me to pursue God at a more intimate level, to find the help and healing I needed. Without God’s help and healing I would never be able to pursue a relationship that could satisfy the longing of my heart. The healing God did in my heart during that time that made it possible for me to find the intimate relationship that I longed to have. This is why my pursuit of Jenny brought satisfaction and not emptiness to my heart.
God created us to pursue. No one is satisfied with a life lived on the couch. This is why humans are constantly going, creating, working, and consuming. We are trying to satisfy the cravings God has placed in our hearts, but experience has also revealed how most of the time our pursuits leave us empty.
What is the solution to this problem? Jesus said:
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:31-33; NLT)
Jesus taught that when our primary pursuit is right, then the other pursuits in our lives will fall into place. If the pursuits of our lives are leaving us disappointed and empty, it is a good bet that we are pursuing the wrong thing. Our Creator has promised that when our primary pursuit is His Kingdom, then we will find the satisfaction that we need.