Chasing Slippery Pleasure

Carol and I, along with our friends Ron and Leanne McKinney, returned recently from two weeks on the island of Kauai. As you would expect an island vacationer to say, we had an awesome time snorkeling and snickering, lounging and laughing, and never had to use some kind of moisturizing cream the whole time we are sweating in the extreme humidity.

The four of us are “simple folk” in many ways, more comfortable with hiking a trail, body-surfing waves, and playing an entertaining game of euchre. Most nights included a nice conversational walk to the top of our development’s hill during which Leanne would find her “happy place” of being able to stroke one of the cats that roamed around. The 75 inch TV was powered on for one hour the whole time we were there. Otherwise, it went unnoticed. We drove the 2004 Dodge Ram truck that the owner of the condo loaned us for the stay, a vehicle that was as loud as a classroom of middle school students and void of any upgrades. We were fine with that since the owner was only charging us $100 a week to use it, compared to the $1,800 that rental companies wanted for a Toyota Corolla. We didn’t need luxury to park beside the beaches.

In other words, our joy was tied to the incredible beauty of the island, the enriching effect of conversation, and the discoveries we made about one another in the fertile soil of friendship.

The other side of those “simple pleasures” of life could be seen in the pursuit of the illusiveness of pleasures I viewed in some of the other vacationers we would cross paths with. There was chasing after it in certain excursions such as helicopter rides, zipline experiences, the renting of surfboards by non-surfers and wind surfboards by people who find difficulty in walking and chewing gum at the same time. There seemed to be that longing for the next thrill that ended up not providing the adrenaline rush. Pleasure, it seems, is as slippery as one of the island’s small geckos. Too often there is the chasing after it that uncovers the restlessness of the soul. Philip Yancey wrote in his book Rumors of Another World that “Abuses arise from regarding pleasure as an end in itself rather than a pointer to something more.” You see it in the unfulfilled expectations of a family’s visit to The Magic Kingdom, the hype and then disappointment as someone is about to attend an NBA basketball game, and, dare I say it, in the attendance at a church worship service that resembles a rock concert.

Pleasure that is the end in itself will never satisfy because it has been elevated to being on the throne as opposed to a bi-product of the One who is on the throne. I don’t need the “next greatest thing” because I seek to be connected to and dependent on “The One Who Is Greatest!”

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