This statement by Max Lucado caught my eye recently and I've gone back to re-read it several times since then:
"We are not happy here because we are not at home here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed to be happy here. We are 'like foreigners and strangers in this world..' (I Peter 2:11)
"Take a fish and place him on the beach. Watch his gills grasp and scales dry. Is he happy? No! How do you make him happy? Do you cover him with a mountain of cash? Do you get a beach chair and sunglasses? Do you bring him a Playfish magazine and martini? Do you wardrobe him in double breasted fins and people-skinned shoes?" p. 1645.
I love the imagery that brings to mind: a fish sitting on the beach, wearing shades and designer clothes with an irritated expression, flipping through a magazine, tossing it aside, sipping on his drink, looking even more disgruntled, and setting that aside as well...
Only, that isn't the whole image Lucado presents. When I got to the witty part, it was easy for me to forget that he starts off by talking about a fish who is dying. As this poor Charlie the Tuna gasps for water, people give him everything but....
I can clearly see that showering a beached fish with money, prestige and "the good life" isn't going to help him any. The only thing that will help him, as Lucado says, is to send the fish back home, back to his natural environment.
Unlike the fish, we can (and should) enjoy things here on earth. Lucado isn't against being happy and experiencing the joys of earthly life.
But he is saying that like the fish we are out of our natural element.
And if we do feel happy, contented (satisfied?) day in and day out with the things of this world, then something is wrong. If we don't regularly feel that deep, unsatisfied longing in the gut for something better and if we never realize that the pursuit of wealth, new experiences, prestige, sex and alcohol can't totally fill that void within us, then we're in worse shape than the fish.
As he puts it, The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be home on earth. As long as we are aliens, we cannot forget our true homeland.
In other words, Disneyland is great for the moment; but it can't take the place of Heaven and shouldn't take away our need to "phone home" on a regular basis!