…Good stuff

This one is short, not because long is lugubrious, but for now I just want some answers from you.   So here it is, just a thought. Please comment because the rest of this post will be based off your responses.

Good Stuff.  First off of course we need a definition of what I mean by “Good Stuff”.  That would certainly help.  It’s quite simple, but it’s also relative to you (yes you, put your thinking caps on kids).

Good stuff: enjoyments, amusement, diversion, entertainment, indulgence, or just plain fun. Like I said, Good Stuff.  For me it might be anywhere from drinking a heavy cup of PG Tips,- the finest tea in England- to watching a good movie, to dozing in my oh-so-obscure lazy boy. It could be hanging with friends, just having a good time.

Why on earth don’t I spend the rest of my life in my obscurely obscure lazy boy drinking PG tips and watching good movies?  I enjoy these things right? And I might as well enjoy life while I have it right?  If it were totally possible to spend the rest of my life amusing myself would I do it? Would you?

What thinkst?


4 thoughts on “…Good stuff

  1. I love it. good stuff comes easy, but wastes time at times, and as we have been so appropriately informed from your “Time” blog, time is precious. So, do we waste time enjoying things? Or do we spend our time working for God’s glory? It all roots back to how much you value your time, and what you are trying to accomplish with it.

  2. Take watching movies for example. Why don’t we do it all the time? Partly because I think we understand that this can’t be done in reality. There comes a point where — as an individual existing within society — I’m forced to do something other than watch movies, or else I won’t be able to watch movies at all.

    There’s something much more fundamental, though. I can enjoy movies all I want, but it would be a challenge to find anyone who actually enjoyed watching movies endlessly. We might say that this is because things are enjoyable precisely because we cannot enjoy them at all times — the less I have opportunity or ability to do something, the more I enjoy it. This makes sense: the reason we don’t just ‘enjoy ourselves’ all the time is because we realize that our enjoyment would eventually become stale if it was all we ever did — we have to ‘not enjoy’ ourselves if we’re ever going to enjoy ourselves.

    But this is difficult to apply to everything. For instance, I enjoy God and will be enjoying him continually for all eternity, and that does not at all lessen my hopes of how enjoyable eternity is going to be. I will not fail to enjoy God simply because I do it continually.

    It would seem, then, that I enjoy things only for the sake of some end rather than for the things themselves. The act of watching a movie is not an end in itself, but an activity (like all others) that tends toward some end; and the fulfillment of that end is a measure of my enjoyment. Thus all actions I could ever do with God (i.e., his glory) as their end I would enjoy precisely because they fulfilled that end.

    God is the only end worth acting towards, but he isn’t the only end we can act towards. I acting towards any other ends, I will eventually come to find that they are never quite met. I can convince myself, perhaps for a long period of time but never indefinitely, that the end I am acting towards is being fulfilled, but this cannot be the case because God is the only ‘real’ end out there. Ceaselessly watching movies would become stale, not because it was all I ever did, but because it would not fully fulfill any end, whatever the end may be.

    That said, when I act with God as my end, it’s not likely that I’ll do nothing but watch movies. There are other things immensely more ‘toward’ God. That’s not to say I won’t watch movies (or sit in lazy boys drinking tea…) at all, but my enjoyment of those things is directly related to how well they fulfill the end I’m acting towards.

    I can’t help but think of Ecclesiastes: First, enjoyment doesn’t mean a smiling face. “For when a face is sad a heart may be happy (7:3).” Second, you might as well do everything you do for God, and enjoy it too. “Go, then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your [tea] with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works (9:7).” He sums it all up brilliantly. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (12:13-14).”

    I don’t mean to say that enjoyment itself becomes an end — then it’s just another end that can never be fulfilled. But when God is our end, we certainly should enjoy whatever it is we’re doing. This is the fundamental difference between asking “Is it totally possible to spend the rest of my life amusing myself?” and asking “Is it totally possible to live for the rest of my life in a state of enjoyment?” The answer to the second question, I have to say, must necessarily be a resounding Yes — if only I could totally avoid sin.

    Sorry for the essay. I certainly didn’t think of that on the spot.

  3. Great post Hoss, great comment Andy (how’s the arm?).

    Firstly, my list of Good Stuff includes but is not limited to:

    Cider donuts. Christmas Eve. The scent of wood shavings. Books that bear repeated readings. Baked sweet potatoes, oozing melted sugar. A four-week-old pup obliviously asleep in one’s lap. Archaeology. Nights in the dead of winter when the moon is full and frozen. The warm, syrupy smell of a sleepy sun-baked apple orchard. Kneading bread dough. Sudden piano crescendos that send a thrill up your back. A really ripe pear. Anything that, unlike the cheaper fake version more commonly seen, has the solid weight and feel of the genuine article (Silver, leather, ancient artifacts, raw Thai silk…) An heirloom, and the fact that we still use words like “heirloom”. The last second of being unbearably thirsty, before plunging gluttonously into your glass of ice water. An unexpected package on the doorstep.

    Just a few other points I sh’d like to mention…

    For starters, I think the old saw “everything in moderation” still rings true here. Everything we as a world tend to run after (money, food, power, love, fun), things we would classify as forms of pleasure, are all essentially good things at their roots. It is only in their abuse that they become idols or sins, or merely wastes of our valuable Time.

    How are they abused, then? When we either 1.) indulge in them to excess, or 2.) seek to derive joy from them as an end in and of themselves (reminiscent of what Andy was saying.) This is the most important part. Do we seek enjoyment in something for its own sake, or do we derive joy from it as a gift from a Father who infinitely loves us?

    An excellent (to say nothing of controversial) example of this idea is the use of alcoholic beverages. Many Christians — mistakenly, I believe — seem to suspect the Devil of lurking in every bottle, and one sip to damn the hapless drinker to Purgatory (or worse.) But what is this we find in the Old Testament? Shockingly enough, we are told to give wine “unto those that be of heavy hearts”. Even more surprising:

    “…and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God has accepteth thy works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7

    “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man…” Psalm 104: 14-15

    So according to the ancient Israelites, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God not only intended for us to enjoy ‘the fruit of the vine’, but even its–shall we say–“happy-fying” effect on the brain!

    In Deuteronomy, it gets even better: in the exact same chapter in which Israel was told that they were to be a holy people to the LORD, and that they were to eat “no detestable thing”, they were given a somewhat peculiar instruction concerning their tithing. In the event that the place to which Israel took its tithes was too far a trip for any particular family, they were to “take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or strong drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.” Essentially, God is saying “Take the tithe money, throw a huge feast (complete with wine), and celebrate Me, together as a family. This is pleasing to me.”

    I would submit that God not only allows us to enjoy “pleasures”, but actually approves it. In the right time and place, and with the focus on Him and thankfulness for all He has done for us.

    Some of you might recall this bit of The Screwtape Letters: “You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when he is happy and expansive. Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden… He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.”

    Lastly (and I know this has run on, forgive me), I think the main idea which we Christians ought to keep in mind is, simply, focus. We are informed in Scripture that every good and perfect thing we enjoy did not simply happen to be here, an accidental discovery on our parts, but was intentionally sent to us as a GIFT. This implies, obviously, a Giver. The question is, are we focusing only on the gift, or does our pleasure in the gift come from our focus on the Giver –our delight in receiving reflecting His delight in giving?

    May I use an analogy? Several years ago, there was a boy who I rather liked (I still like him a lot now) and one year, this boy made me a necklace as a birthday gift. It was very beautifully made, evidencing much care and slow polishing on the part of the maker.

    Now, let’s imagine that I simply found this necklace lying on the sidewalk one day as I walked past to the library. It would definitely have caught my eye. I would have picked it up, admired it for its beauty, and perhaps have worn it now and then. In this sense I would have enjoyed it. But this “enjoyment” would pale in comparison to the swift, overwhelming rush of joy that came when I unwrapped it, knowing who it was from, knowing just who it was who spent all that time fashioning it, specifically for me, with me and no one else in mind — incontrovertible evidence that as unbelievable as it seemed, that boy actually liked me back. A whole lot.

    Do you see the difference? If any of that Good Stuff is just that, stuff, then its potential for our enjoyment is limited at best. But if instead we see it for what it actually is, it becomes something so much grander and weightier, something that carries a whole depth of meaning, a message if you like. Something along the lines of: the God of the Universe loves you most ferociously, and not only sent His Son to secure your salvation, but is also obsessed with devising awesome little day-to-day surprises for you as well.

  4. Ahh, yes these above comments are very good and I quite agree with them! As I don’t have the way with words as these two do, I shall just say I quite agree with their comments and thoughts. And that I am also looking forward to your further comments Mer. 🙂

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