by Tad Lindley
My friend, Harry Lewis, once said this, “Marriage is like flies on a screen door. The ones on the inside are trying to get out, and the ones on the outside are trying to get in.” My high school Physics teacher, the late Ned Mahlman, put it like this, “When I was in the Army your best job was always your last job or your next job.” It’s the ciivak effect (for my non-speakers, a ciivak is a fly); the tendency of human beings to be dissatisfied with what they have and to think that they would be happier if they had somebody else’s situation instead.
Bro. Lindley discovers the ciivak effect in the Bible
Recently I was reading the book of Ecclesiastes and after many years this scripture finally caught my eye: Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire… (6:9) In other words, what you have in front of you right now is better than what you are wishing you could have instead. It’s like flies on a screen door or a screen window. Some on the inside who have seen all that you have to offer in your house and they want out, and the ones on the outside who have seen everything out there and they are thinking if they could get into your house there just might be some mayonnaise or some butter out on the counter.
Everyone gets dissatisfied
It is human nature to be dissatisfied with what we have right in front of us. We always want more. When they asked John D. Rockefeller how much money was enough money [to satisfy him], his answer was, “Just a little more.” Proverbs 27:20 tells us, Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Again in Ecclesiastes (1:8) we read, …they eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. We are like flies on a screen; we want what is on the other side. Meanwhile people who already have that would rather have what somebody else has.
Grandpa and grandma got wrecked by the ciivak effect
You don’t mind if I talk about your ancestors for a moment? Ap’a Adam and Grandma Eve are the classic example. You and I both know that they were smack dab in the middle of God’s will for their lives. They could not have had things any better. And yet the serpent met them at the screen door and said, “Don’t you know that God is keeping some things from you? You have everything you see here, but there is so much more. Eat the fruit, and your eyes will be opened.” And so it came to pass that they got on the other side of the screen; they got on the outside of the garden of Eden. And when they got there, they hated it. It was a place of shame. It was a place of violence and dishonesty, of funerals and despair, but alas it was too late to go back.
How about David?
Most people don’t even know the names of his brothers, but he is world famous. He is a mighty warrior and a great man of God. But there was a time in his life when he was taking music lessons and learning to take care of sheep while his brothers were at boot camp learning to swing swords and throw spears. They were being groomed to be mighty men of valor, while David was destined to be a sheepherder. I wonder if David ever looked at his situation and grew dissatisfied: the sheep, the harp, the nights in the cold, waking up damp every morning. I wonder if he ever thought, “I wish I could be with my brothers, but here I am destined to be a nobody.”
Sometimes God can’t use a swordsman
I can’t help but notice that David was actually right smack dab in the midst of God’s will for his life. You see, while his brothers were battle hardened men who were skilled in the weapons of war, when Goliath stood before the Israeli Army none of those men was able to attack him. Against such an opponent their swordsmanship was absolutely worthless. What God needed to kill Goliath was not someone who could swing a sword, but someone who could sling a stone.
What are you seeing right now?
When you look around your life are you dissatisfied? You are haunted by the ciivak effect. Do you often think, “I wish I had a different…?” Or, “I wish God would bless me like he is blessing…?” Remember the Bible verse I started with: It’s better to enjoy what we have than to always want something else, because that makes no more sense than chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 6:9 CEV) What if in spite of all visual evidence to the contrary, you are right smack in the midst of God’s will? Trust me, God has a plan for you and it starts right where you are at this moment.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.