Ultimate Significance

The Rolling Stones “can’t get no satisfaction” and Bob Dylan wants to have a “satisfied mind” when he dies. Why do I get the impression Dylan and the Stones are pursuing different goals–probably very different ones?

What is satisfaction, anyhow? Is it what the WordWeb dictionary I’m using defines as “the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation”? And is satisfaction a realistic goal?

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe even a tad judgmental. But it seems to me that whatever the Rolling Stones are hoping to get satisfaction from is apt to be very temporary in nature. A person may eat until he’s satisfied, but he’s still going to get hungry again. No need to elaborate.

At least Dylan’s goal is to be satisfied when he enters eternity. Whatever gives him final contentment must be of an eternal nature. Since “Satisfied Mind” is on one of Dylan’s Christian albums–yes, he wrote and recorded at least three of them–I hope he’s talking about satisfaction with the way he’s lived and his confidence in where he’s going at death. Definitely not temporal.

But what about significance? That’s what this post is supposed to be about.

Significance means importance; that’s the definition I’m using here, anyhow. Contentment and importance are not one and the same, and neither are significance and satisfaction. Those two words are not only not synonyms, they’re almost antonyms.

Time to get personal. I get contentment from a number of things. Having a wonderful wife. A comfortable–but modest–home. Food and clothes. A decent camera and good musical instruments. I have everything I need and  plenty of things I don’t need.

But the contentment those things provide isn’t enough.

Could it be I “can’t get no satisfaction,” either? I’m extremely thankful for all of the blessings God has provided, but do they fulfill my real goal–my desire to be important? Or at least to do something so important it will continue doing good for years after my death.

Five thousand people bought Found in Translation. Twenty-five hundred bought Lost in Dreams. I’m proud of those figures, because I want to believe at least that many people read those books and were both entertained and blessed by them. That did more than make me content. It made me feel important. Or at least that I’d done something important.

Ah, but what about The Devil and Pastor Gus? It’s been out exactly one year. I don’t have the total sales figures, but it seems likely that only a hundred copies have been sold. Perhaps fewer. And this was the novel I’d considered my legacy for future generations. I felt it had the strongest message of anything I’ve ever written–and probably will ever write. In short, that it would be my most important novel.

No matter how much the people who’ve read The Devil and Pastor Gus rave about it–it currently has a 4.4 star rating on Amazon–I’m not content. I wonder whether my best effort to accomplish something truly important has fallen flat on its face.

I could get depressed about this if I allowed myself to. But the truth of one of my original songs keeps coming to mind:

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s helping me in ways I can’t see.
God understands all my problems;
He knows my best efforts are not enough to solve them.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s renewing my faded hopes and dreams.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

I believe God’s holding me in His hands;
He’s shaping me according to plan.
Despite my fears and confusion,
He knows He provides the only real solution.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s drawing from His limitless means.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

Maybe it’s time to let faith take over. What’s most significant ultimately is not what’s important to me, but what’s important to God. And He doesn’t have to do it my way. Or on my timetable. What a mess my life would be in if He’d done everything the way I thought they should be done!

Why should I fret about feeling important here on earth, anyhow? I’m much more desirous of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I arrive in Heaven.

What do you think? Are you satisfied? Do you feel significant? How about sharing a comment?


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Best regards,

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”–Or Can I?

“I can’t get no satisfaction…”

I couldn’t remember the rest of the words to that Rolling Stones song when I started writing this post, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. That song has always bothered me–musically, lyrically, and theologically. Or should I say it’s “left me dissatisfied”?

Practically everyone in the Western world strives for success and satisfaction. It’s human nature, and those two things seem to go hand-in-hand. People want to succeed–in their jobs and in their marriages. In athletics and in rearing successful children. In practically anything and everything.

And along with that often comes the quest for more money, more power, more recognition. More whatever.

And all to make them feel satisfied. To fill that empty spot inside that makes them feel important. To keep them from feeling like they’re no better than–no different from–everyone else.

At sixty-eight I’ve decided that being “no better than” others isn’t all that terrible. I’ve had my successes and I’ve had my failures, including some I still struggle with.  Yet I’m satisfied overall.

I’m reminded of something I read in a Ted Decker book. One character claimed that he was God’s favorite person. Then he pointed out that the person he was talking to was God’s favorite, too. His point was that God loves everyone equally, no matter how good or bad they are, no matter how successful or unsuccessful–as the world views success.

Sure, I’d love for my books to sell millions of copies. Earning an appreciable amount of money from those sales would be nice. And how thrilled I’d be if some well-known musician discovered one of my songs and made it famous. But I’m satisfied without those things ever happening.

You see, my satisfaction isn’t based on success. If it were, I’d probably be the one singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

My satisfaction doesn’t come from comparing myself with others, but with knowing how worthwhile I am in God’s sight. Yes, I want to please Him. I want Him to be proud of me. But He loves me all He can just because I’m me. Not because of the feeble best I can ever do. What more could I ask for?

I finally gave in to my curiosity, by the way. I put my seldom-played Rolling Stones CD in the stereo and listened to “Satisfaction.” The only words I could understand were the refrain. I’m satisfied that my dislike of that song is well founded.

What are your thoughts about success, satisfaction, and/or the Rolling Stones? Please leave a comment.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE  if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,