Once they reeled their dog shark to the surface the biologists were shocked to find it in the mouth of a much larger tiger shark.
This strange image reminds me of George Bernard Shaw’s famous statement: “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire and the other is to get it.” In other words, sometimes getting our heart’s desire can lead to our own destruction. Sometimes “pursuing our dream” can be the worst thing for us. This tiger shark was probably quite proud of himself when he swallowed the diminutive dog shark. But before he knew what was happening, this predator became the prey. This dog shark was nothing but bait, the last thing the bigger shark wanted.
Doesn’t that sometimes describe our own tragic pursuit after things which we’ve “just got to have”? Things that leave our hearts empty and bring nothing but pain?
If you recall the climactic scene in Steven Spielberg’s 1989 movie classic, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the beautiful German archaeologist, Elsa has fallen into a crevasse and Dr. Jones has her by the hand, trying to pull her to safety. But instead of focusing on saving her own life, she’s reaching downward to grasp the renowned “Holy Grail,” the cup of Christ which was perched on a ledge in the crevasse. Indy shouts to her to give him her other hand, because his grip is slipping. She ignores him for the sacred cup, then slips to her doom. Indy himself falls into the same perilous lust for this phenomenal archaeological find. He risks his own life to grasp the fallen cup. Only the urging of his father to “Let it go,” convinces him to give up the pursuit and save himself from destruction.
One of the most tragic examples in American history of “getting your heart’s desire” took place in the life of President Franklin Pierce. At first Pierce seemed like a great success story. He had a profitable law practice. He’d served honorably as a brigadier general in the Mexican-American War. And he’d served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He was strikingly handsome and popular. But when his colleagues dangled the Presidency before him – because of his support for slavery and the Fugitive Slave Act – this Northern Democrat took the bait. He was elected. But all that followed – the tragic death of his beloved son, the destruction of his marriage, his descent into alcoholism, and his ultimate rejection by both slavers and abolitionists alike – made him curse the very thing he once dreamed of – the Presidency.
What dream are you pursuing? If it’s a good and honorable one and you’re seeking it for all the right reasons – to serve others – then go for it. But if your pursuit is only after self-aggrandizement and glory, then it would be far better to first work on your motives. God did not put you on this planet to be an end in yourself. You and I are here to serve and bless others and please God. True happiness naturally flows from the life so devoted and lived.
I know. It’s so counter-intuitive. But the Gospel calls us to gain our lives by losing them (Matthew 16:25), to give that we may receive (Luke 6:38), to take the yoke of service to find rest (Matthew 11:28-30), and to die to ourselves that we may live with Him eternally (Luke 9:23-24).PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, please search my heart and purge my motives. Create in me holy, pure, and selfless desires – that I may serve You and my fellow human beings from a heart of love. Only then will I truly experience Your joy and contentment. Amen.