He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart.
— Ecclesiastes 3:11

An acquaintance of mine who worked at NBC used to provide me with tickets to “The Tonight Show.” Back in the days before Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno, Johnny Carson was the host of the program. He reigned over the airwaves for 30 years as the king of late-night television, the highest-paid performer in the industry. His fortune was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He lived in a luxurious mansion and traveled the world pursuing his passions of tennis and sailing.

I will never forget the last time I saw Johnny Carson hosting the program. Another king of the entertainment world, Bob Hope, was his special guest that evening. During the program the two celebrities were energized, laughing, seemingly having a great time together. But during the commercial breaks, these two men sat in their chairs, stared blankly ahead, and had an expression on their faces that communicated, “I am miserable. I would rather be doing anything else in the world than what I am doing right now.” They were obviously unhappy, even though most people would give anything to be in their place.

That image is burned in my mind forever. Whenever I am tempted to fantasize about how happy I would be if I could only climb one more rung up the ladder of success, I think about the miserable expressions on the faces of those two men who had made it all the way to the top.

One city worker explained his purpose in life this way: “I dig the ditch to earn the money to buy the food to get the strength to dig the ditch.” Sadly, that seems to be the treadmill on which many people find themselves. Get up, go to work, come home, eat supper, sit comatose in front of the television for a few hours, and go to bed. Some people try to break that cycle by packing their lives with achievement, excitement, fame, or fortune. But like the celebrities I saw on “The Tonight Show,” they are soon disappointed to discover that money, pleasure, or fame can never give their lives a positive purpose.

Why are we constantly searching for some new pleasure, some new achievement, some new possession, or some new mate to satisfy us–only to be profoundly disappointed?

Here is a simple explanation: eternal beings can only be satisfied by that which is eternal. You can’t fill an entire ocean with only one bucket of water. Since, as Solomon observed, God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), only that which transcends our brief existence on this planet can quench our thirst. We need an eternal God to give us a positive eternal purpose that fills our God-sized spirit with meaning.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of a Positive Purpose” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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