STRIVING TO PLEASE?
In the 1983 screen adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff, a group of competing pilots are going through selection testing to become one of the Project Mercury astronauts. One scene depicts the “lung capacity test.”
In this test, the candidates blow air into a liquid-filled glass tube to keep a ping pong ball suspended between two lines on the tube. Each man takes a deep breath and begins, blowing to keep the little ball balanced between the two lines. The task is extremely difficult. It takes every bit of breath they have to keep the ball at the acceptable level. After about a minute they all start running out of air – finding it impossible to inhale and exhale simultaneously. Three of the men, now turning blue, make it past the 90-second mark. Then, one by one, their wind quickly gives out and they have to stop. Each one’s ping pong ball falls from its acceptable position and plunges down into the liquid.
In a way that scene depicts our efforts to be pleasing or acceptable in the sight of others; acceptable to our spouse, to a parent, to our boss. The continual pressure is on us to gain and maintain their approval and uphold an acceptable performance. But, should we simply run out of breath or the will to keep trying and our performance falls, our value in their eyes drops like that little ping pong ball. Regardless of our years of accomplishment and success, we are viewed with contempt and as a failure.
We cannot control how others feel about us, but we have this one great consolation. God’s opinion of us and His love for us will never diminish. We do not sustain His love for us by maintaining a flawless record. God loves us whether we are good or bad, whether we’re pleased with ourselves or whether we stew in a sea of self-hatred. God’s love transcends our ability to understand it. God’s love for us is not performance-based. It is unconditional and everlasting. The LORD declared through the prophet Jeremiah, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3, NLT). Again, the Scripture says, “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are” (1 John 3:1, The Message).
PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, I hunger and thirst for Your love and acceptance. Please welcome me in Your divine embrace and satisfy me with Your love. Amen.