Reader: Brad Elledge: This devotional struck me because it so reflected my life experience. We were fresh out of B-School: from Chicago, Wharton, Harvard, Northwestern and part of a corporate planning staff where ambition ran like a bull market. “We all aim to be the King of France, running our own empires,” remarked our Chief of Staff. Five years and three moves later, having worshipped at the altar of career glory, I was burnt out and empty realizing, having given it everything, my career wasn’t loving me back. It had literally sucked the life out of me. There had to be more than the endless cycle of beating sales quota, sacrificing for the next promotion … so in a moment of weakness, I accepted a friends invitation to go to church. And those strange people would invite me to a meal out of mere kindness and free me from my loneliness and self-sufficiency. They represented Christ and I was captivated by the alternative. Our redemption, truly, is found in Him alone. And with that redemption comes the true riches: friendships that span decades, family, community, knowing and serving the one true God. It is not about us … it’s about Him.
843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Hope for Troubled Souls: Everybody WorshipsOriginally published on May 20, 2013.Highlighted: Ps 73:25-26
Worship: “Everybody worships,” said David Foster Wallace in 2005. “The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing … is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough … Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths … Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you in your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is … they’re unconscious” .
Troubled: In 2008, Wallace committed suicide. He was 46 and best known for Infinite Jest (1996), a novel that “perceives American society as self-obsessed, pleasure-obsessed and entertainment-obsessed” . The next year, he received a MacArthur grant, “the so-called genius award”. The NYT chief book critic once said, “[He] can do practically anything if he puts his mind to it. He can do sad, funny, silly, heartbreaking and absurd with equal ease; he can even do them all at once”. His obituary, however, read, “In contrast to the lively spirit of his writing, [he] was … consumed with his work and its worth, perpetually at odds with himself … a titanically gifted writer with an equally troubled soul”.
Injustice: In Psalms, we find several troubled souls. In Psalm 73, for example, Asaph is troubled because he wonders whether God cares about injustice. Yet he takes his confusion and emotions into the sanctuary, where he finds what Wallace intimated—that God alone will not eat him alive: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” .
Prayer: Lord, We confess that, when we look upon our imperfect and broken world, our souls are troubled. Yet we know that our redemption is found in you alone. Therefore, let our hearts rejoice that you are our strength and portion forever. Amen.
About Brad: Brad grew up in the Napa Valley before it was big time wine country. He migrated to Chicago for B-School and pursued a corporate career with stops in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Phoenix, Tucson (where he met the Lord), and Knoxville, TN. He now manages a manufacturing plant with 100 employees (his “flock”) in North Dallas. With his ‘noble soul’ wife of 30 years, Eileen, they have raised 4 children, 2 “domestics” & 2 “imports” (adopted Vietnamese). They now reside in Frisco, TX, where they attend Grace Church.