The following is Part 4 of a seven week “Reality Radio” series. The series was advertised on secular radio and unfolded online at a special website that no longer exists.
If the journey of life always continues to unfold the next destination, what would be the next “city” for me? Why am I here and what am I to do while I am here? I would soon find out. But not yet…
The prodigal journey was in high gear…life it seemed could not get any better. I was working out six days a week and my body was ripped with muscles…I felt great about the way I looked. I was excelling in my job and bonuses were coming in. I was living with the love of my life and we were globetrotting to all kinds of wonderful and majestic destinations. There were parties, there were trips with close friends, and there was much laughter and tons of fun. If life is a journey…then I was on top of the world.
While riding atop the best this world has to offer, I was one day greatly struck by a close friend I loved deeply and respected immensely. He had a check in his hand and for some reason I was uncharacteristically very curious about what that check was. After inquiring, he said, “It’s my tithe.” I thought, “Tithe…what on earth is a tithe?” He continued, “It’s what I give back to god.” I thought, “You give money to god?” Even though I was a little dumbfounded by this, I was so intrigued by it and without a second my heart was pulled toward this close friend in a new way I had never experienced before. I felt drawn to him…like he is very trustworthy…like he is full of immense character. There is no other way to say it…I wanted to be just like him. To have people respect me the way I felt myself respecting him in that moment. I later found out that after all the parties we went to together, that he was waking up Sunday mornings and going to church every Sunday.
This may sound funny…but before long, I started attending church and writing a check – my tithe to god – just like my friend. It may have started off as a copy-cat performance, but it did not take long for me to really feel that I was somehow called to do this for myself. It felt good to unload part of the rich excess that I was carrying. How can that be? I had always wanted to accumulate more and more and more…I never thought that “letting go” would feel better than getting more and more. How strange.
So in the midst of my prodigal journey living the high life, the next destination I arrived at in my search for significance was spiritual in nature. I know, I know…you’re thinking, “Oh man, is this guy going to go god on me?” At that time, I might have laughed at myself if I was not experiencing it myself. In other words, I had surely laughed at others who “got god” but now inside me a fire of interest was starting to spread about just who god might be…and if he did make me, does he possibly hold the key for the next nugget of wisdom I needed on my journey of life.
On the outside, my high flying globetrotting life continued. There was really no change on the outside. I simply added a new spice into my private life that few others knew about. I was still dressing sharp, working out, going to great parties and traveling. But something new had taken residence within me. Whereas before my spiritual journey was mystical, mythical and ambiguous…it was now becoming more personal. Instead of me thinking that god was somehow “out there” far away…I now sensed that he had come close and I felt he had the key to the next part of my journey.
The more I read about god, the more I wanted to read. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The more I felt called to a life of purpose, the more I hungered for that life of purpose. And the more I was thirsty for god, the more I realized how thirsty I remained when I looked for satisfaction in the ways I always had. I was drinking up the waters of pleasure and riches and possessions and the more I drank…the thirstier I became.
Pleasure is an awesome thing. Sexual pleasure in particular is an awesome thing. In fact, sexual pleasure has got to be one of the most amazing things that a human being can experience. But somehow, there was a thirst within me for pleasure that could not be quenched. I could dive deeper into love in pursuit of that ultimate explosion of physical, emotional and sexual love…and yet when the last drop of ice cream melted, a hunger for more ice cream seemed to rise to the surface. Unsustainable…that’s the best way I can describe it.
Possessions are an awesome thing. Having that hot sports car or buying all those $90 Tommy shirts or purchasing expensive pieces of photography or art. There is certainly something good…something beautiful about the kind of “stuff” we can purchase and possess as our own. But somehow, there was also a thirst within these things that would fill me up momentarily only to leave me thirsting for more, more, more. Within months, that Tommy shirt looked updated. Within a couple of years, the hot sports car was now redesigned and mine was the old version. Within a few months, I wanted to get the next piece of expensive collectible art. Now I was in a good financial position, but I was not wealthy! At the pace of my appetite, I’d soon run out of cash if I spent every time I felt the thirst to drink up the waters of material ownership. Unsustainable…
Bonuses were pouring in. My salary was rising swiftly. And yet I was no millionaire. I had limited resources that would quickly run out if I did not exercise discipline. Every time a bonus came in, I showered gifts upon my lover and those around me. It seemed to satisfy. But after a trip to Europe or Hawaii and buying clothes and eating out at nice restaurants…soon, I’d be thirsting for the NEXT bonus. Elusive. Unsustainable…
The one thing in common with all these things….sex, money, possessions, pursuit of wealth…is thirst. I was so thirsty to drink water that would quench my thirst…that would allow the depth of my being to say, “Ahhhhhh.” Instead, the water I was drinking left me parched and clamoring for more water. It’s almost as if the “bar tender” of sexual pleasure was saying, “Drink up.” And the “bar tender” of material possessions was saying, “Drink up.” And the bar tender of money and wealth was saying, “Drink up.” I was already drunk with pleasure, possessions and money and I was still so very thirsty…
Drink up? I tried it. Maybe you’ve tried it. Does this make any sense? Can you relate? Am I just talking about an ambiguous thing that is unique to me? Or does this ring a bell?
It seems there is something within me that longs for some kind of satisfaction that is beyond me but crying out from within me…a longing to connect…or maybe a longing to re-connect. To what? With who? Could this longing be connected to that moment of curiosity about my friend’s check? That moment in which I moved on from the “city” of new age candlelit journaling and mystical spiritual experiences to a new “city” where God seemed to come near to me. In that moment, I felt a tiny taste of the “Ahhhh” I was searching for. But what a strange way to find meaning…in a check? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Maybe it was not about the check at all. Maybe it was about who the check was written out to. Maybe the God who I had so often made fun of in others…maybe the God whom others had so often used to judge me…maybe that God was offering me a new kind of invitation to come to a new place on my journey for significance. Maybe He was saying, “Drink up.”
My name is Will, and I desire the “real thing” in life. What about you? Come back next week as my journey continues…I’ll see you then!
NOTE: Tune in each week as Will’s story continues to unfold in seven (7) weekly segments. Click here to easily navigate to Week 5.