I recently visited Florida, and there’s nothing like Florida in the spring. It’s just so comfortable: no humidity, beautiful, crisp blue skies, and a light breeze. On my way down, I stopped on the coast for a bite to eat. I like truly good food, and fast food is miserable for me, so I asked Siri where to eat. “Hey Siri, I’m hungry, where’s a good place to eat?” On the list Siri gave me was a place called The Black Sheep. It was perfect!
How could you be Miserable?
Imagine sitting under a cloudless blue sky in Florida with the sun shining gently on your face. A light spring breeze blows against your skin and through your hair. You’re eating simply delicious food and having an amazing drink with brilliant company. Your favorite music is playing in the background, just enough to make its presence known but not enough to distract you from your engaging conversation. Literally, you are cocooned and enveloped in sensory bliss – ah! These instances aren’t uncommon in Florida. Essentially, Florida is built to accommodate these moments.
I grew up in Florida and experienced this regularly. My body was often cradled in a vacationer’s paradise. There’s a reason snowbirds retire to spend their golden years in Florida – it’s delightful. Having said that, for me, something was always amiss. It felt so odd to live in a paradise where everyone looked so happy yet I remained unsatisfied and miserable. I always thought, “What is wrong with me?” No matter how cushioned I made my body or soul, for the most part, I remained miserable. It’s not as if I didn’t have enjoyment or experience moments of pleasure, but the sum total of my days was an awareness of sadness. I was living in a perfect world and I lay opposed to it like a sharp edge against lovely bubbles. Pop!
Miserable in Paradise
I watched people all around me insulated with comforts. They were cushioned within a seeming numbing bliss. By all outward appearances, their bodies and souls were satisfied with every good thing. So what was my problem? Why couldn’t I just toe the party line? Because something inside of me ran counter to this. I resisted whatever “IT” was, but it would not be silenced.
Living in paradise is an insular existence. And unless there is an inward force pushing against it, we can live insulated. I can make my climate just as I like, I can purchase anything to make my world easier and more comfortable, I can feed myself with whatever pleasure I desire—I’m insulated. But in the insulation of paradise, I was living a truly insular existence. The masses were insulated from this internal Bother, but I was insulated from making the insulation work for me. I was isolated in the insular world. This was a double heartache, because the presence of paradise made my existence seem that much more different from everyone else.
Moses was Miserable
Moses would have known the best that the world could offer for the time and yet it was never enough. He would have known kingly delicacies presented to the royal family. He could have anything his heart desired. He lived in an Egyptian paradise, but he remained internally compromised. He lived isolated from the insular existence of royalty. His body and soul could have anything it desired but an internal calling bothered him. He couldn’t be satisfied with the best the world had to offer.
For Moses, this paradise wasn’t enough! Something was missing. He had God’s ‘ministry of miserable.’ His life was missing the most important part, the only part that actually mattered to him—the spiritual part. The passionate, internal Fire was brighter than the extinguishing comforts the world had to offer.
Sure, our bodies and souls can be completely contented but as with Moses, our spirits remain discontent. God’s ministry of miserable makes receiving satisfaction from the world utterly impossible. Momentary distractions can turn down the call’s volume. We may even be able to achieve a season of dulling that call, but when the silence comes, as it always does, the call is again loud and undeniable.
(Moses), choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
Hebrews 11:25-26 ESV
Am I saying you can’t enjoy life if you are called of God? That a pleasurable meal with lovely people is somehow off? Not at all! On the contrary, I believe these times can be more meaningful and blessed. When your body, soul and spirit are united with the will of God, you will experience a bliss that can be higher than any earthly pleasure. It’s a spiritual ecstasy.
I ate at The Black Sheep in God’s will. I had a divine time. All my senses were engaged and I had the delight of the Lord’s presence and the smile of being in His Will. You see, many think that God’s Will is complete drudgery, that it would be the most un-enjoyable experience known to man. However, I contend that in His will, you experience joys beyond the common. Following the Will of God is the experience of true Life and joy. The ministry of miserable is just the goad to make sure you don’t settle for anything less than His perfect choice for you.