Posted by Stephen Venable

“The reason that ducks and donkeys are never bored is that they are immersed in particularities. They lack the dynamic thrust of spirit into the limitless. Particular experiences satisfy ducks…They lack an orientation to the beyond and so do not need anything beyond here and now. A man may assume that prayer is meaningless because he assumes that he is no more than a duck in this matter of need, that his thirst can be quenched by a finite series of experiences, pleasures, thrills. He may not notice how everything “new and exciting”- traveling and sightseeing, friends and faces – always leave him searching for repetition and then before long for something newer still.”  Thomas Dubay, Pilgrims Pray, p 7

I would doubt that any sincere believer would suggest that a particular string of experiences or collection of possessions could slake the thirst of their soul. At least in our minds, we know better than this. Yet whereas the world may be guilty of this overt sin of substitution, this excerpt reminds us of the more subtle sin of addition. We do not think that appearance, romance, notoriety,  or wealth could actually take the place of Jesus in our affections. Instead, we imagine that different forms of these things plus Jesus is the missing formula for deep satisfaction. Our thoughts gather to form something like this: “Jesus is wonderful, and if we could just find the right companion, the role that acknowledges my gifting, lose a little weight, and have financial breakthrough then things would be complete…”
The other way of saying this would be that Jesus alone is not enough to captivate the depths of our hearts. Few of us would have the honesty to verbalize such a thing. Our actions confess what our words will not. The time invested in entertainment, the imagination wasted on idyllic relationships, and the money spent on the latest technology all expose the discontentment we might want to conceal. These things, of course, do not offer any lasting answer to the restlessness, which is why we must always perpetuate the fantasy by seeking more of them. It is often the inordinate pursuit of such fleeting pleasures that actually impede the journey of prayer that leads to finding deep, interior communion with Jesus. Teaching that manipulates Scripture to present the ‘happy’ prospect of Jesus as a means of attaining and endorsing these illusory forms of joy are tragic.

One Response to Happy Ducks and Bored People

  1. Jordan says:

    Definitely finding myself convicted these last few days about my clutter of riches and pleasures.

    This quote from Dubay urges me keep my eyes on Jesus alone. I think I will pick up Fire Within again.

    Thanks Stephen for your firm witness to truth. God has anointed you to faithfully call the church back to experiencing deepness of Jesus.

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