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Fantasies & Wishes

Elisabeth Elliot: Are you feeling restless today? I think there's an increasing restlessness in our society here in the States. We just have too many things to do, too many places to go, too many people telling us what to do, too many things we need to buy or look at or read or watch or attend.

Lisa Barry: Is that a description of you? I have to admit, it's a lot like me. We have an unlimited variety of ways we can spend our time in this country. But rather than satisfy a need for activity, it merely confuses us. But why is this a source of restlessness for so many people? Elisabeth Elliot is going to share that answer this week as we devote all five days to dealing with restlessness.

So whether you're uneasy over some decision you have to make or you just feel anxious about any number of things, I think you'll find some rest from today's program. Now get comfortable, rid yourself of distractions and you will have made the first positive step toward a quiet heart. Now let's get started with this Monday edition of Gateway To Joy. Here's Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you today about a subject with which I think we can all identify, at least from time to time if not continuously. The subject is restlessness.

Here's a little poem. "The battle of our life is won and heaven begun when we can say, 'Thy will be done.' But Lord, until these restless hearts in Thy deep love are still, we pray Thee teach us how to do Thy will."

Are you feeling restless today? I think there's an increasing restlessness in our society here in the States. We just have too many things to do, too many places to go, too many people telling us what to do, too many things we need to buy or look at or read or watch or attend.

I recently saw a full-page-do I call it a full-page? I guess it was a full-screen ad on the TV of the front end of a coal-black Lexus with lights on. And the dialog that went along with this was supposedly between the Id and the Superego. Now how many of us understand what in the world the Id and the Superego are? Well, not I. So I looked it up and I find that these are terms which the general public is expected to understand, but they really are psychoanalytical terms. They have to do with the fundamental mass of life tendencies, out of which the ego develops.

The Ego is the self. The Superego is the moral conscious. So in this television ad, there was a dialog between the Superego and the Id. And the Id was saying, "I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it." The Superego was saying, "After careful consideration, I concur." Of course, the message was that they bought the black Lexus. The lust for pleasure, for satisfaction, fulfillment, for something else, something other than what we have. What do you want more than anything else in the world?

I want to read a statement from the Bible. 1 John 2 says this: "Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time, for the whole world system, based as it is on men's primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself."

Now listen to this: "The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear, but the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die." I want to read that last part again. "The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear, but the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die."

Whenever you hear words like "renewal," "revival," "renovation," "remodeling," "reprogramming," "reimagining"-have you heard these words? I hear them every now and then Does your heart kind of give a little leap? Is there something deep within us that stirs when things are going to be revamped or reprogrammed or reimagined? Why is this? Well, I think we're dissatisfied with our own existence. We may be thinking right now, "Why doesn't God let me have so and so?" or "Why did God let me down?"

One of my favorite hymns is "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts." The fourth stanza says this: "Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, where're our changeful lot is cast; glad when Thy gracious smile we see, blest when our faith can hold Thee fast." Our restless spirits yearn for Thee.

There seems to be an obsession nowadays with dinosaurs, space creatures, the occult, the fantastic. Perhaps it indicates man's attempts to escape to a different time, a different world, a different atmosphere and a great deal more power. Fantasy and fable are born of the desire to be somewhere or to be somebody else. Playacting, masquerading, theater-these are attempts to steal a role which is not our own.

I don't mean to say that I think that's all wrong, but I think we need to consider how much fantasizing is good for us, how much wishing we were somebody else or somewhere else. There are methods, more common and available. A different car. A different house. A different dress. A different occupation. A different doctor. A different church. I get many letters from people who are church-hopping.

And you men. Do you wish you had a different wife? You women who wish you could lose 25 pounds and all you need is an exercise machine, you think. So you get all the gear, all the outfits for biking. You go to the garage sales and you look at the stuff that's in the garage sales, and most of it is stuff that people thought they needed and wanted-things that were going to make them happy. And where do they go? Into the garage sale. And then you go and buy them so you can put them into your garage sale in another six months.

Restlessness. The insistence on change, constant amusement, the excitement of adventure. Wind surfing. Hang gliding. Bungy jumping. Parasailing. I never heard of that until recently. The excitement of war, of crime, of violence. The Halloween costumes-forms of masquerading, recasting oneself in the mold of a personality. Let's get rid of the old self and work on self-improvement.

The Bible has a good deal to say about these human desires. It goes way back to the very first story in the Bible when God created a perfect man and a perfect woman and put them in a perfect place and told them that there was only one thing in that Garden that they were not to eat. You know the rest of the story, don't you? Eve was absolutely convinced that the one thing in all the world that she needed was what God had forbidden her to have. So she took that which was forbidden.

In James 4 we have a graphic description of what is happening. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up."

The principles of the Word of God are not subject to the person, the circumstances, or the times. I would rather say it's the other way around. Persons, circumstances, and times are subject to the Word of God. But we have a deep reluctance to change. We wish to remain in command in some areas. We'd like to determine the scope and the limits of our obedience and of our transfiguration in Christ.

People say to us sometimes, "Don't go to extremes. You're a Christian. You're okay. I'm okay and you're okay." Well, as a poster once brought home very vividly the message of the cross, there was a picture of Jesus on the cross. The caption said, "If you're okay and I'm okay, what is He doing up there?"

Lisa Barry: Unfortunately, there are more than a few people who think Jesus' death was for nothing. They would rather concoct a god that's a little bit of every religion, a god that fits their lifestyle and won't set a higher standard. But in doing so, have they done away with restlessness? Not a chance.

If you've been tempted to seek an earthly solution to your restlessness, then let me challenge you to purchase a copy of this one-week series. Pop it in on those days when you're tempted to run yourself ragged rather than waiting on God. It's the only truth you need to be reminded of.

The title to ask for is DEALING WITH RESTLESSNESS and the cost is $7. You can send that, along with your request, to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Our Internet ministry address is gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.

Be with us again tomorrow when Elisabeth reveals the best place to go in times of trouble. That's next time on Gateway To Joy.

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