One of the many activities that Nadine and I enjoy doing is going bike riding. We take off from our house in Scottsdale and head west for 3 miles until we hit a trail that is called the Greenbelt. It runs from just north of Shea all the way down to Tempe Town Lake and beyond. It is about a 30 mile trek from our house to the lake and back. It was created from a wash that has been made into green grass, 4 golf courses, several lakes attached by little streams. Snaking along this wash is a path divided by stripes so that those going south whether walking or riding bikes stay on the right and those going north stay on the left.
We love to bike the Greenbelt in the cooler times of the year, so our season for bike riding is just now coming into full bloom. At the southwest corner of Jackrabbit Rd. and Hayden, there are three small ponds that you pass on your way to Tempe Town Lake that has swans swimming in the ponds (2 swans in each of the three ponds) We would love to go by the ponds and admire the swans swimming each time we drove by. We talked about how these swans claimed these ponds for themselves. It was the highlight of our journey to see these beautiful birds moving about so gracefully with a fountain spouting in the middle of the pond.
One day as we were riding by we noticed that one swan was swimming, but the other swan was close to the shore tipped over. It’s head was in the water and the bottom part of the swan was out of the water where you could see that it was made of man-made material. The swans were fake. It was a ruse. For so long we had ridden by the three ponds and admired the swans, and all this time we were deceived into thinking they were real when in reality they were fake as compared to these pictured below that were all real just a stone’s throw from the three ponds.
This experience reminds me of what happens so much during our journey through life. We follow something we think will bring us life and pursue that which we think is real and can truly satisfy, only to find that it doesn’t ultimately satisfy at all. It may be a prized possession, a car we have always wanted, a bigger television, a piece of jewelry, a beautiful article of clothing, etc. We think this is the real thing that can bring us ultimate fulfillment. Once we get it and a scratch appears on the exterior or we spill something on it, we begin looking for a newer version and it doesn’t bring the satisfaction we were hoping for.
Have you ever admired a couple from afar? It may be a couple in a leadership position in the church. It may be an actress and actor who are in the lime light and get married. We see the couple and secretly admire their connection to one another. One day we read in the paper or hear news that they are getting divorced or are having marital problems. The beauty of seeing them in the distance was changed by the reality of seeing them up close.
Seeking out jobs that we believe will ultimately fulfill our need for recognition and making a difference in the world often fall short of our goals and satisfaction levels. What we think is real and will bring fulfillment to our lives can in reality be fake when we get close to that which we seek.
Blaise Pascal, a 1600’s mathematician and philosopher once said, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace. This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” Seeking after fake will eventually find us wanting.
On this journey, there are going to be many fake things that seek to get our attention. God is the only One that can make all things new and give us guidance on making right choices. Taking a closer look and asking some questions will help us to choose the real from the fake.