“Is this as good as it gets?” More than just a question for those prone to depression or chronically dissatisfied with life, it is a question that anyone with a pulse must ask at one time or another. While it can be a totally self-absorbed demand of the entitled, it can also be the deep yearning of our hearts, aware that there is supposed to be something more than we have realized yet. I think it is why prom was never as magical as anticipated and why the Christmas season often holds such promise but usually leaves us wanting…and not just for more stuff, but for far more wonder.
The older we get, the more cynical we are inclined to become and the less impossible we allow our imaginings and longings to be. Magic gives way to the mundane, romance gives way to routine and playfulness to pragmatism. Responsibility weighs us down, disappointments cut too deeply and the only available sources of refreshment or relief don’t often do much more than refined sugar does to answer the need for more energy. I think this must have been close to the place John was when he asked his most important question to Jesus.
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”Matthew 11:2-3
This is the guy who baptized the Son of God, called Him the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and who said he was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. Now he asks if Jesus is really the One or if another should be looked for instead. What happened?
We who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the One who takes away our sins, the One who is God which means we are not, at one point or another have to ask the same question. At some point, in my aloneness, in my exhaustion, in my disappointment (with myself, with others, with circumstances, with…), like John in prison, I have to wonder if He is the One or if I should be looking for another. The answer changes everything, starting with the context for the question.
The context is deeper than the weariness of the moment or the disillusionment. The real question, at some point, includes: “Are you the Lover of my soul, or should I keep searching in the people around me, or the people on stage, or for someone out there?” “Are you the rescuer of my being, from the suffering I inflict on others and the suffering the world inflicts on me, or should I look for rescue through another source (escape, numbing, accomplishment, pleasure, position, etc.)?” “Are you the One I should have left all and followed, or did I get it wrong?”
John couldn’t ask this question until he recognized how uncomfortably parched his own heart was. Though he had encountered Jesus, his certainty was proven weak in his own vulnerability and sense of depletion. Even he didn’t totally recognize the fullness of the person and work of Jesus. The Love is deeper, the rescue more thorough and the call to follow more promising than merely circumstantial, political, physical, emotional or mental.
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Luke 7:21-23
The second Adam is reversing every effect of the Fall, exchanging every blessing of life promised in the first covenant for the curses of its violation. The goal of this exchange is not so that one political party gets to be in office, or so that my poison ivy is cured, that my memory is restored or that my work is more productive. Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:20-21 He is making all things new and whole and immensely satisfying. He began immediately, is doing it now and will complete it soon and very soon.
Is this as good as it gets? No, thank Jesus, not all! May my empty tank make my heart pound harder for the Living Water, not a food-dyed sugar drink. May my memories of magical anticipation, and the thirst for increased wonder, compel me to cry out, “Are you the One!?!” and then begin to birth that intense longing for His presence now, even in the “not yet” of total fulfillment. How does He come to me now? Oh would that become the question which overpowers all the others.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. John 14:16-19