I used to drive my grandmother NUTS! She hated the sound, but whenever presented the opportunity, I couldn’t resist. I still can’t. Whenever the opportunity arises, I have to jump in. Pop. Pop. Popopopopopopop. There’s something fun and irresistible about taking even a small swath of bubble wrap and popping the bubbles. Big ones, little ones … it matters not. It’s one of the methods of proof that Helen can point to that I truly haven’t grown up since being nine years old, haha.
It’s true of many of us. Admit it. Popping the bubble wrap, whether by one bubble at a time or by “wringing” it and getting the multiplicity of pops that sounds like a brick of firecrackers … or both … is just plain impossible to pass up.
So it’s understandable, then, how frustrating it can be to attempt to pop the bubble wrap only to find it’s messed up, defective. You know, when you go to pop a bubble, only to have the air (you know, the thing that actually allows the bubble to “pop”) transfer to the bubble adjacent to it. So you figure, “okay, I’ll just pop the other one,” and all that happens is it transfers back! Ugh! Hate that! Defective bubble wrap is no kind of fun, and trying to make the pop but only moving air from one to the other takes all of the luster away from the bubble wrap in the first place.
It’s a little like how many of us going through life. Let me elaborate by sharing something that struck me as I read this past week through 1 Kings 1 – 4, 2 Chronicles 1, Psalms 37, 71-72, 94, 119, Proverbs 1 – 6, and Song of Songs 1-8. A passage I’ve read many times before in 1 Kings 3:10-14 moved me …
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”
This familiar passage is often used to depict Solomon’s wisdom, and rightly. But to me, it also is super instructive about the folly of how many of us choose to chase after life.
The verses immediately follow a time after Solomon was anointed king of Israel, and the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God asked Solomon, essentially, “What do you want? Whatever you ask, I’ll give to you.” Now I don’t know about you, but that would definitely have gotten my laundry list of “wants” unrolled and ready to recite. But that’s not what Solomon did. He did the wise … and uncommon, unforeseen, unpredictable … thing, and asked for wisdom, to lead God’s people well.
Okay, so tell me … if God came to you and offered you anything you ask, on what page of the long, long, long list of “wants” would wisdom be? Yup, me too. Nowhere on the list.
We don’t chase wisdom in life. We choose wealth, prestige, honor, success, comfort, homes, toys … you name it, any number of things that we believe will lead to fulfillment in life. Purpose. We attach our dreams and hopes to stuff. Material, and therefore fleeting, things that we believe will make life worth living. The problem is, chasing those things as mechanisms to bring our life meaning is a lot like playing with defective bubble wrap. It no more brings us the fulfillment we seek than pushing on a bubble on a defective bubble wrap sheet makes the bubble pop. It just moves the air to the adjacent bubble.
Pursuing stuff doesn’t help solve life’s problems. It just shifts the problems over to another problem. Defective bubble wrap. Just ask anyone that you think is wealthy, or at least wealthier than you, if the wealth you perceive they have (or know they have) has made life way easier, worry-free, or allowed them to have everything the way they’ve always wanted it. Nope. Just moves the air to the adjacent bubble.
Here’s the deal … when Solomon asked for the thing that matters most – wisdom to lead God’s people well – God endowed him with all the rest. Why? Because in making such a request, Solomon aligned his desires to God’s desires and God could then fulfill his “wants” because they were God’s wants too (Psalms 37:4).
The point is we should align our hearts to God’s heart. We should seek not the material, but the eternal (Matthew 6:19-21). When we do, we put ourselves in a position for God to work, for Him to provide those things He knows we need, and perhaps even those things we want. In short, God allows us by seeking wisdom to achieve fulfillment and purpose. In an eternal sense, we’ll receive that which matters most, whether or not we have wealth, prestige, honor, success, comfort, homes or toys. Sure, God may grant us some or all of those, but our fulfillment and purpose won’t be affected. Pursuing it the other way just makes it like defective bubble wrap.
Let’s pray this week for the Lord to show us true wealth, value, purpose, and meaning. Let’s ask Him to reveal in us – and to cleanse within us – any nature that is like defective bubble wrap. After all, that “popopopopopop” sound is what makes it all fun and worth the effort.
Soli Deo gloria!