Principle of Overload: Why We Can Never Be Happy

Having a 8GB iPhone has taught me several important lessons:

1) 8GB is NOT enough.

2) I can actually live comfortably with only that much space.

3) Next time, I’m still getting 32GB.

Every time that little alert pops up telling me I’m almost out of space, it actually makes me slightly infuriated (or disappointed depending on the day) and  helps me understand that this $99 phone wasn’t meant for my love of music, it just can’t handle it.

The same thing occurred to me as I was writing this poem about how we get little glimpses of heaven even in little life events today. As I came to the end of the poem, it dawned on me that I have no way to explain what never-ending pleasure is like because I’ve never felt it. The closest thing I could think of was my trip to San Francisco last week to help renovate houses and share the gospel. I’ve grown comfortable in saying that it was the best week of my life. Over the course of the week, I had a flourish of the types of moments that can single-handedly make anyone’s day great:

I met a slew of new people from as far north as Washington and as far east as South Carolina and learned about their lives. I got to see and experience a bit of the culture of San Francisco. I drove a 10 passenger van that challenged my driving and parking skills every day that week. I found myself in at least one profound conversation a day (mostly unintentionally too!), not only did I grow from them, the young people around me engaged themselves in them as well and we discovered great deals of wisdom together, each at our own levels. I ran every morning, once by myself, but every other time with a group of guys (on the biggest day, there was maybe 7 of us). We had a couple of workout sessions in our room where almost all the 15 or so guys there participated.

I saw so many young people mature substantially that week.

I had enough time to grab a nap every day (I love naps!). We had legitimate hole-in-the-wall Asian food twice (I LOVE Asian food!)! I saw and met so many Asian people! (I LOVE Asian people!) We had lasagna for dinner one night (My favorite food!) I laughed so many times for so many reasons! (and not just wimpy laughs either, the type of laughing that erupts from the pit of your stomach, echoes like thunder through canyons, and  leaves you with aching abs after! A group of girls even told me that I sounded like Santa Claus!)

I felt as if God had walked with us all week. People came to faith, relationships revived, people challenged me and made me be better, we saw people’s lives changed, and saw our transformed in the process.

But as the trip came to an end, I wondered why we couldn’t live like that every day. I came to the conclusion that I probably couldn’t handle it. Not like that anyway. Living like that for a week is a dream, sure, but doing it even for a couple more days would’ve been taxing. Even if the circumstances never changed, my body would get so tired of it.

Nothing lasts forever, whether it changes or we change.

Songs we enjoy become displeasing to the ear sometimes, especially when we listen to them repeatedly. The same meal every night, no matter how good it is soon becomes unsatisfactory to our tongues. If we wore our favorite shirt or pair of jeans every day, we’d eventually get sick of wearing them. Even seeing the same people every day can become taxing. That moment with that special person that we wish would never end would eventually get to a point where it was boring and we would want to get up and do something else. (can I get an “Amen” from some dating or married couples?!) We have bodies and minds that actually need change, no matter how much we try to avoid it at times.

If heaven is a place that exists outside of space and time, then we can assume that it will be somehow constant (time is what produces change). If it is a place of never-ending joy and pleasure [Psalms 16:11] then I’d wager that we can’t even truly appreciate it in these bodies and minds, because everything we’ve ever known to be pleasing is fleeting and we’ve never been content with any of it for much time at all. We couldn’t appreciate it any more than a toddler can appreciate a $20 toy over a $2 one.

But this is about more than appreciation, this is about the very limits of our human experience. A balloon can hold only hold so much air. In fact, it’s remarkable because it can expand itself so far to hold more! But still, when it gets to a certain degree it’ll explode, unable to contain anymore. I wonder if the same thing happens in the presence of God? What if the glory is so overwhelming that we simply cannot contain the joy and awe and burst from the emotional overload? Maybe that’s why we can’t get to heaven without being born again [John 3]. It’s no wonder that our pursuit of joy often leads straight to hell. Maybe the problem isn’t that we can’t find it or that there isn’t enough, maybe the problem is that there’s so much that our souls cannot bear the brunt?

What do you think? What could this mean for your life?

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