Sipping Saltwater

A shipwrecked sailor can float in an ocean filled with trillions of gallons of water but never quench his thirst because he is afloat in saltwater. In the same way, none of the pleasures in this world can ultimately satisfy us without God. Hoppe says, “In our nagging state of thirst for paradise lost, what do we drink? Saltwater.

 

Is there any sin we commit more but admit less than the sin of idolatry? As people who have knowingly and willingly deserted the one true God, we turn our hearts this way and that to find the satisfaction we are meant to find in him alone. We try first one thing and then the other yet never find our thirst assuaged. It is not until we rest in him that we find true rest. It is not until we are satisfied in him that we find true satisfaction. Idolatry is the curse of all mankind.

Idolatry is the subject of a new book by Steve Hoppe. All throughout the book, he uses saltwater as a metaphor for our idolatry. A shipwrecked sailor can float in an ocean filled with trillions of gallons of water but never quench his thirst because he is afloat in saltwater. In the same way, none of the pleasures in this world can ultimately satisfy us without God. Hoppe says, “In our nagging state of thirst for paradise lost, what do we drink? Saltwater. We consume things that look and feel and sound like they can quench our thirst. They promise unmatched pleasure. They promote limitless comfort, joy, strength, peace, and excitement. They vow to remove our fears, tears, worries, guilt, and shame. They pledge to fill the voids in our hearts and soothe our aching souls. They promise paradise. But they can’t deliver. We drink them, but our thirst remains unquenched. In fact, we are left thirstier. And we experience devastating hangovers — negative spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational consequences — as a result.”

What is this saltwater? “This saltwater doesn’t come from the ocean. It comes in a variety of forms from the world around us and our hearts within. It comes in the form of money, sex, control, or comfort. It comes in the form of busyness, people, food, or works. It can come in the form of anything. … Even though we are thirsty for paradise lost, we drink saltwater instead — in a million different forms.”

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