When I was in college, a few guys on our football team had shirts printed up one summer which read: (front) “BODY BY LAIR” and (back) “EAT, SLEEP, TRAIN, DOMINATE.” We passed these shirts out to our teammates and wore them in the weight room for our first workout of the summer. Our Head Strength Coach, Todd Lair, was a super intense, fiery, hard core strength coach who never smiled and never made small talk. He never asked how things were going with you, but was always focused on the job at hand: making his players bigger, faster, and stronger. When he opened the door that morning and saw all of us wearing these new shirts with his name on the front, it was the only time I saw him smile in 4 years.
I loved the summers training with Coach Lair at The Citadel, because he would always push us beyond what we perceived to be our limits. He would always tell us that our minds are much weaker than our bodies and that we could do more. If there was anything I learned from 4 long years at The Citadel, it was that Coach Lair was right. There were numerous workouts when I was convinced I was completely done and couldn’t do another rep or set without passing out, but Coach Lair would force us to keep going and we would. At those times of complete physical exhaustion, his message was always the same, “Don’t be satisfied!”
I realize now, even though I am not playing football and don’t have Coach Lair telling me “Don’t be Satisfied, work harder!”, that I live in my relationship with my Heavenly Father as if He were whispering the same message to me. I don’t mean that I read my Bible or memorize Scripture until I pass out from exhaustion, but I do find myself struggling to believe that my Heavenly Father is completely satisfied with me because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. The way this shows up is obvious, I struggle to just rest.
As I live in a culture that is so fast paced and is constantly communicating that we should “never be satisfied", we can always perform, achieve, and acquire more; it is hard for my heart to rest. I find myself yearning and longing even more to get to a quiet place and seek to hear the Lord’s “still small voice.” (1 Kings 19) Along with that, I find myself longing to be free of constant demands and cultural expectations to perform more and achieve more.
When I spend time looking at Jesus’ life, I am amazed at how He never allowed cultural demands and expectations to dictate his schedule. He was constantly misunderstood and was ok with it. I find myself reading and thinking how amazing that the voices of the crowd were not the loudest voices Jesus heard. Instead what He heard was the voice of His Father, who clearly said to Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17) The satisfaction and affection of His Father was what defined who He was, and therefore determined what His life was all about. It was ok if crowds misunderstood Him. It was ok if people were disappointed with Him. His schedule was not dictated by their demands or expectations.
The Apostle Paul said that there is great gain in godliness with contentment. (1 Tim 6:6)How could he say that? He could say it because despite living in the most religiously demanding culture in the world, in which he was a disciplined All-Star, He had truly met Jesus. Once he actually met Jesus, he realized he could quit striving for the ever elusive rest the world has been promising since the Fall. When Jesus hung on the cross and said the words, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30), He did it for Paul, and He did it for me. He did it for me so I don’t have to live life with the mindset that I should never be satisfied, because God isn’t satisfied with me. He did it for me, so instead of striving to attain a rest that lasts, I could truly rest in Him. He did it so I could understand that instead of doing more, the Lord was serious when He said, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15) He did it so that on that great day when I see the Lord face-to-face He can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25)