Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spending My Pleasure

Here are a couple of quotes from a book that changed my life.

"The privilege of actually smoking cigarettes was reserved for the Capo, who had his assured quota of weekly coupons; or possibly for a prisoner who worked as a foreman in a warehouse or workshop and received a few cigarettes in exchange for doing dangerous jobs. The only exceptions to this were those who had lost the will to live and wanted to 'enjoy' their last days. Thus, when we saw a comrade smoking his own cigarettes, we knew he had given up faith in his strength to carry on, and, once lost, the will to live seldom returned." -Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

"One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country past flowering meadows, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp. Larks rose to the sky and I could hear their joyous song. There was no one to be seen for miles around; there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the larks' jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around, and up to the sky - and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world - I had but one sentence in mind - always the same: 'I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and He answered me in the freedom of space.'  How long I knelt there and repeated this sentence memory can no longer recall. But I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life started. Step for step I progressed, until I again became a human being." -Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

As you can see it is not light reading. It is a book that helped me connect some of the dots between the roles of purpose and pleasure in my life. Here is the verse Frankl quotes in the verse above in context.

"Oh let the house of Aaron say, 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.' Oh let those who fear the LORD say, 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.' From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place. The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?" - Psalms 118:3-6 NASB

As free people opportunities for pleasure are all around us but what is the role of pleasure... the pursuit of pleasure... are we 'smoking our own cigarettes'... has pleasure ceased to be currency just because I am free? I don't think it has.

Don't get me wrong I'm not an ascetic who spurs pleasure in favor of discipline. I just see the link between pleasure for pleasures sake and hopelessness.

Grace is a wide open field filled with pleasure and freedom.

I think love is linked to this whole idea also. I think we can confuse love and lust very easily. We can enjoy the feeling of caring about someone but never bring God into the center of the relationship. Our love is really a 'smoking our own cigarettes' kind of love.

In grace we find a 'What can man do to me?' kind of love that is extremely pleasurable because it is based in a 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.' perspective. The great commandment and the great commission are based in this kind of love.

Towards the end of the book Frankl talks about the disillusionment of survivors. They may have survived the imprisonment only to find out that the thing that kept them going no longer existed. The town, the wife or the life they had was wiped away. He said that was harder on people then the suffering of imprisonment.

Grace never leaves us disillusioned.

"I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean... So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men." - Romans 14:14, 16-18 ESV

Peace and joy are not situational. Man can not give them or take them away. They are conditions linked to a grace based righteousness that is spirit and communion oriented.

As a free person... How will I find my pleasure? How will I spend my pleasure? This coming weekend leaves open several options. God is not pleased by the asceticism of duty. He is pleased by faith.

God, Guide us into the wide open space. We want to spend the weekend in the wide open spaces.

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