What is it that you live for? And if you got it, would you be happy?
One of the surprising but repeated admissions of successful people is that success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It simply doesn’t deliver the sense of fulfilment that it promises. World leaders have spoken of reaching the peak of power, but feeling nothing but ‘deadness inside’ (1). Olympic champion athletes spend years of training and sacrifice to reach their goals, but when they get there, they describe feeling empty, depressed, and cheated (2).
By contrast, the complete opposite was experienced by the ancient pilgrims who sang the Psalms of Ascent. Their final song expresses how they felt when they eventually reached their destination; and the experience for them was one of joy and delight. What secret did they know that modern people seem to miss?
That thing we all long for is what the Bible describes as blessing. Living a ‘blessed’ life is that feeling of doing and being what you were made for, of experiencing fulfilment, or fullness of life; and it can only come by knowing God. The Christian view is that we were made to live life in relationship with God, and he is where blessing comes from. When we live in relationship with him, he pours out blessings on us (v3): as our Maker, the God still involved in creation who provides us each day ‘with life and breath and everything else’ (3); and as our ‘Redeemer’ (‘from Zion’ v3), who saves us from our own worst tendencies and our desire to ignore him. In response, in this relationship, we bless him back (v1-2): not as religious robots, but as people who delight in his love for us and live in the freedom of it.
When Jesus walked the earth, he captured the essence of this song in his own words: ‘blessing’ is borne out of living life in relationship with him. Living for our own ambitions will rob us of life, but he can offer life in its fulness:
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (Read more here.)
If you long for a sense of fulfilment in life, but it seems just out of reach, you’re being robbed – just like Jesus says here. It doesn’t need to be that way. Why not ask Jesus to fill your life with blessing today?
PRAYER God, you know that I have looked for fulfilment in many places, but still feel empty. Grant me this experience of blessing today. Show me how to live life in relationship with you. Amen.
A song of ascents.
1 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.
3 May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
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(1) Charles Colson, cited by Eugene Peterson, ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’, p189.
(3) Read more here: Acts 17:25