Monday, February 28, 2011

Created Things Cannot Fill the Abyss of Interior Solitude

There's a Kenyan pastor I met on my recent trip to Africa. He is extremely poor. Titus and his family live on about $1 or two a day. He is full of life and full of Christ and has an infectious smile. He is being used by God in his small village in western Kenya near the Ugandan border. He rides a bicycle wherever he goes. He really could use a small motorcycle. He's praying for the finances to get one. Then he can take his wife with him to church services, which are miles away from his house. I've begun to do some long-distance teaching with Titus, for he has no formal education because he has no money.

He is very intelligent. He translated for me for my four days of teaching in Eldoret, Kenya. We talked a lot together. There was one moment in our dialogue when I asked him, "Where did you learn that?" He had shared something very deep and profound. He said, "When I was praying today I felt God tell me that." I thought, "Titus hears from God. And, he is very intelligent. We need to get him resources and more education!"

So I am doing a little bit of that. I recently sent him a package with a book - Eugene Peterson's The Message. He wondered if I could get one for him. I just got a letter from him, and he thanked me for it. You would have thought I'd sent him a bar of gold! (Titus, if you are reading this, I'm putting some books together and getting ready to send them to you, along with a plan of study.)

If he were here, now, in my home, I think I'd be embarrassed about all the material stuff I have, even stuff stored in our attic that would be valuable and usable in his Kenyan village. I have a roof over my head; the Son of Man had none. I've even got a den of foxes living underground on my property, and they have a place to sleep. What's going on here?

Thomas Merton wrote that "the abyss of interior solitude can never be satisfied with any created thing." I am certain that is true. Remember that Jesus instructed us to store up treasures in heaven, and not on earth.

1. If created things (material things; "stuff") could satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, then Americans should be the most satisfied people who have ever lived.
2. Americans are not the most satisfied people who have ever lived.
3. Therefore (by premise 1 and premise 2, using modus tollens, material things cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.

All our stuff has not made us, and cannot make us, content.