The Declaration of Independence promises "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to the citizens it protects. But what if actual happiness could be promised rather than just the pursuit of happiness? Even if we could successfully achieve our every desire could we be completely satisfied? I know that in my own life the more I seek to find purpose, meaning and joy in the pursuits of this world the more I find they can never provide what I expect. The promise of true happiness can only be found in the pages of another text.
I regularly hear the statement, "God is all I need," floated in Christian circles. At times when my heart does not have God in his proper place, my mind will wander to wonder if this is really true. It sounds very spiritual and wishful, but really, is that all you need? By definition, there are certain needs we must have met in order to exist, the basics being food, water and clothing. Yet, Jesus acknowledging our physical needs still gave clear instructions to, "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). Jesus is telling us our hearts should be set on the pursuit of God. Everything else, even our physical needs are satisfied ultimately by God (Matthew 6:28-32).
When my heart does not see Jesus as the one who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17) I am tempted to seek after my own desires, my own dreams, before pursuing him. God describes this posture in the heart of his people in Jeremiah 2:13, "for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." We can certainly pursue the promises of the world, but we build what cannot satisfy at the expense of losing the only one who will. In the words of Jesus, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36)
So what does this single-minded pursuit of God look like? Does it mean we should abandon everything in life, and read our Bibles all day, only taking breaks to pray? Not quite. Remember, God is the creator of life, family and culture (Genesis 1:28-31.) He is the author of, and the giver of, all good things (James 1:17). That means everything good that we experience in this life is authored and sustained in him. Yet our hearts should not be set on anything outside of God, even his good and perfect gifts. The things of this world that I had expected would bring me the most joy (even the good things) never satisfied because the good things are merely there to point us to God: to see the glory of God in what he created and designed.
It is interesting to look back on what my 18 year-old self had hoped to achieve at this point in my life. I can tell you that some of my hopes and dreams I had then are fulfilled now, and some are not. Even what I do have in success and blessings have never brought what I thought it would. Since my hope is found in God I can be at peace not only with the dreams that are left undone, but even "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
So then, what does it mean when I say as a Christian that, "God is all I need"? It might be more accurately stated that God is all I need to pursue. The rest will follow in part during this life, and then on that glorious day when we meet him face to face there will be nothing left unsatisfied.