The Terrible Search

Paul & Susan Dunk   -  

This past week at the Golden Globes, Jim Carrey took to the stage to present the award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Though his short, humorous speech got a lot of people laughing, I don’t doubt that the poignancy of his words also got a lot of people thinking…

“I’m two time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey …and when I dream, I don’t just dream any old dream. No sir. I dream about being three time Golden Globe winner, Jim Carrey … because then I would be enough. It would finally be true … and I could stop this terrible search.”

I can identify with his words because I still struggle with my own “terrible search”.

The way he introduced himself was funny – but it was strangely self aware. It was like he verbalized how I think about myself when my fragile ego needs boosting.

Busted. I want a 3rd Golden Globe too, Jim.

Yes, of course he was joking. However, he’s an intelligent and insightful man who was also saying something with intention. Jim Carrey was raised a Roman Catholic, dabbled in Presbyterianism, and most recently, has subscribed to the New Age spiritualism  – according to the internets.

He’s a man on a spiritual journey, seemingly propelled by his observations about the smallness of what it means to be human, our unending quest to matter and the burdensome nature of our terrible search to “be enough” and find soul rest.

I don’t know that for sure – obviously. I’ve never met him. I’m making assessments based on various interesting things I’ve heard him say about life and human nature. Maybe as a fellow Canadian, we’ll sit down someday for a drink and discuss all this. After all, there’s only a few of us up here. He probably knows my friend Jason out in BC.

Our terrible search …

The search for the Golden Globe isn’t limited to those in that room. We’re all chasing our own Golden Globes: that thing, that if obtained, would truly fulfil us.

Baptizing the search …

One of the premises of New Age spiritualism is that we are co-creators of future hope and peace by gaining control of our thought lives so we can be released from fear. [1] Liberal Christian teachers, enslaved in their own terrible searches, have done a theological mash-up by teaching the scriptures through this spiritualist lens. The result: massive religious empires. They have figured out that if there’s one thing us North Americans love – it’s more.

The result of this religious hook up, is a very ugly baby. The preaching that results cannot centre the church on Christ’s work, because it is primarily concerned with your work. The centre of the sermon cannot rest on Christ and Him crucified because it’s primarily catering to your Christian life improved.

As a result, Christ is not presented as the One who frees us from our terrible search with His gospel because obtaining our next Golden Globe is the sign we have His blessing and has become the “gospel”.

I am guilty of the very thing I am criticizing. I’ve baptized the terrible search and taught the scriptures in a way that turns the church inward and not upward.

The Gospel liberates us from the search …

I’d love to say that when I go to bed every night my heart is at peace by being “Paul”, but on occasion I struggle with clamouring for validation, going to bed as, “Paul Dunk, preacher and church planter, MABTS, magna cum lauda, aspiring to be a really big deal … FOR GOD of course.”.

I struggle with my own terrible search and am as much in need of God’s renewing grace as much as anyone in my church.

I’ve told the people at Redeemer that more often than I’d care to admit, Sunday afternoons are the hardest part in my week. No matter how hard I study or prepare, I know my sermons are always lacking. Something could have been communicated better, clearer, more relatable, more accurately or more concisely. Now, I could baptize all that under the guise of being a loving pastor who wants to develop his gift so he can serve people better with the gospel – and that’s partly true. What’s also true is that I need God to deliver me from the other part …  the part of my heart that’s really ugly.

The part that still craves my Golden Globe.

This is my terrible search. The search to find my identity, meaning and validation through my performance instead of finding soul rest in the utter simplicity of being loved as God’s child. I’m still being delivered from my terrible search.

Thankful for grace.

I’m thankful for grace that stretches further than my sin. I’m thankful that God’s grace, more and more, will replace the craving in my heart for my Golden Globe with peace and rest in God.

Many times God ministers His grace through my wife Susan, who knows me better than anyone and can identify when I’m clamouring for my Golden Globe. She wisely refuses to pat me on the head in those idolatrous moments to affirm my preaching, knowing that it would only drive me deeper into my terrible search. Instead, she lovingly points me to the rest that’s available in the very gospel that I preach.

Though I can be like a dog, returning to his vomit by entering back into the idolatry of my performancism to chase my Golden Globe, God is faithful. He forgives me, cleanses me and ministers His peace to my soul. Every. Single. Time.

Good news, friend …

Each time we rest in the “it-is-finishedness” of God’s love and acceptance by grace in Christ, we find reprieve from our terrible search. Your search is different than mine, but you have your own struggle, chasing down your own Golden Globe.

The gospel frees us to love our neighbour, do good work and use our gifts in the world without needing our love and good work to earn us a Golden Globe because our hearts are at finally at rest.

There is true soul rest for you, friend. A beautiful place of grace in Christ where you find peace and hope that transcends the pain, sorrow, frustrations and trials of your life. [2]

The Father planned to rescue you from the emptiness and death found at the end your terrible search. The Son accomplished your rescue by grace alone. The Spirit is right now renewing your heart – increasingly replacing the chronic need for your next Golden Globe with a love for the One who rescued you and gives rest for your soul.

Press on,

just Paul.

[1] A course in Miracles, The Foundation for Inner Peace, Huntington Station, N.Y. Lesson 228, p. 461.

[2] John 14:27