What do you find pleasurable? The smell of rain, the taste of fresh strawberries on ice cream, the many breath–taking colors of a sunset, the majestic sound of the ocean waves crashing onto the rocks, or maybe the soft smooth feeling of a furry kitten. These things engage our five senses in a pleasurable way.
Yet many times what we run to for pleasure is only temporarily satisfying. It feels amazing in the moment, but when the high wears off there are feelings of guilt, shame, and despair. Things like the taste of an alcohol binge, a snort of cocaine, the visual stimulation of pornography, the sound of a slot machine yielding its winning prize, or the ecstasy of an orgasm or the feeling of money leaving your hands to purchase the object that is certain to make me feel better. It was awesome in the moment, but the pleasure is fleeting, never lasting or satisfying.
I used to run to several things in hopes of experiencing pleasure and living a satisfying life. I was certain that working hard, working overtime, and making sure everything was perfectly done to gain others approval would bring lasting satisfaction. But it didn’t. Then in my loneliness and desire to connect, I incorporated pornographic images into my fantasies in hopes of gaining a feeling of intimacy and connection. But I only isolated myself more. Yet I wanted that feeling of emotional connection all the more and lusted after the pornography and fantasies incessantly. I was in a vicious cycle of insanity – doing the same things over and over again, wishing for a better outcome than I was experiencing. I felt like a fool.
The Proverbs are filled with wisdom and differentiates it from what is foolish. I was indeed a fool.
“A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 10:23 NIV
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 NIV
“Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.” Proverbs 21:17 NIV
Paul warns Timothy about people seeking false pleasures and what to do with them.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV
Loving ourselves, others and things is unwise, lacking in wisdom, and leads to destruction and ultimately displeasure (the very feeling we are trying to get away from).
Moses’s faith was commended for his willingness to resist the fleeting pleasures of this world (sin) for what was yet to come from God.
“He [Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:25-26 NIV
So what brings true pleasure in our lives? The Psalmist in the Old Testament writes:
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 NIV
“You” in this Bible verse refers to the Lord God. Ultimately, God is the one who brings us pleasure as we listen and obey Him (He shows us the path of life) and spending time in his presence. These pleasures will last forever as we remain by his side.
Our addictions and compulsions seem to give pleasure and immediate gratification. But they never satisfy. In fact, we only crave more of the same, thinking they will bring more pleasure, only to be deceived over and over again. Worldly pleasures are a lie.
Only God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) can satisfy!
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5 NIV
Keep your soul, spirit and mind focused on Jesus! He knows your true, deepest desires and wants to satisfy them. Give him a chance. I did and there is no greater or better feeling than to be walking with God.
Choose to experience God and you will experience real life pleasures!