THE GRATIFIED LIFE
I woke up this morning thinking about a satisfied life but before I could get out of bed that concept had already moved to a "gratified life." Let me explain. A satisfied life equals a contented life but a gratified life equals a life that brings pleasure, keen enjoyment and delight - often in surprising ways!
In conversations lately with some of my friends who lead with their hearts, I have mentioned a pyramid I visualize when I think about my own personal gratification level. In life there are different strata of fulfillment - strata meaning layers, levels or gradations that define quality of life.
The abundant life Jesus describes in the Bible is one of significant relationships - first with my God and then with my fellow human beings. The design of my pyramid descends downward from shallow relationships at the top to deep and significant relationships at the bottom.
Many years ago I made the choice to intentionally invest myself into each person that God brought across my path. I promised Him I would be faithful to step up, be alert and match the openness of others and the depth to which they were willing to go! Over the years, this commitment to go deep in relationships has developed into a concept I call life-to-life exchange.
By life-to-life exchange, I mean I give of myself, sometimes extravagantly, and when it is a profitable relationship - I receive something rich, fulfilling and extravagant in return. It is much like what Solomon said in his journal in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 1, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days."
This return cannot be expected or manipulated, but when I find it, it adds fantastic mystery and adventure to my life! Life-to-life exchange is the most profitable investment I can make and the foundation of a gratified life.
I just finished a new biography, Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas. In it, Bonhoeffer quotes "old Tholuck" who frequently asked colleagues and proteges, "How goes it with your soul?" FYI - Friedrich Tholuck (1799-1877) was a German Protestant theologian and church leader who was one of the most accurate Biblical interpreters of his generation. His theological position was orthodox, but he laid more stress upon Christian experience than upon rigid dogmatic belief.
I think Tholuck's question is a great one for plumbing the depths of what matters in this life. I have begun to use it as a tool to take me where I want to go in relationships. There is something extremely satisfying, even gratifying, about regularly visiting and evaluating the condition of our souls - together.
A gratified life is a life that is regularly experiencing happiness and pleasure. Is it too much to ask - to want - the gratified life that God has designed for me? I am willing to plumb the depths with you - because it is a fulfilling "together" sort of experience. If you are willing, let's begin by asking each other, "How goes it with your soul?"
Galatians 6:10, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."