Joe Kennedy was the older brother of America’s thirty-fifth president and a man who wanted to be popular. Joe had always been the pride of his family, the son his dad would brag about. But during World War II, his little brother John stole the stage when he self-sacrificially saved his fellow troops during an invasion. John was suddenly a sensation. Joe was pushed to the side, while his little brother soaked up the rays of the nationwide spotlight.
In an attempt to regain his popularity, Joe did something crazy. He volunteered to pilot a plane filled with explosives and headed for an alleged Nazi hideout. Joe was convinced that he could prove himself to be better than his little brother, and he was sure this was the way to do it. The mission failed, and Joe Kennedy died when his plane crashed. In later explorations, the Allies discovered that what they had thought was a Nazi hideout was nothing more than a fake bunker set up to fool the Allied troops. Joe Kennedy died attempting to catch something that wasn’t even real.
Call Off the Search
How often do we go running after something that we’re convinced will satisfy us, only to find that it’s nothing but a mirage, just like Joe Kennedy heading blindly toward that empty bunker, thinking it would bring him what he needed to be the nation’s hero? It was a fruitless effort. A search for value where there’s nothing but dust.
Since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, humans have been confused about where fulfillment and value come from. Satan wants to make us think that we can find fulfillment, satisfaction, and the answer to our longings within ourselves, attention from guys, validation from our friends, the way we look . . . Let’s be honest, the list is endless. We grab at passing shadows and run toward imaginary shapes, looking for a fulfillment that can only come from Jesus.
Jeremiah 2:13 says:
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Only Jesus can satisfy our spiritual thirst for value and fulfillment (John 4:7–15). No more searching, no more running from fad to fad looking for worth. As humans, our sinful nature is constantly wandering away from the source of true happiness (Jesus!) and looking for other wells to drink from. Just like the people of Israel, we search vainly for fulfillment from someone or something besides Jesus. So how can we avoid these pitfalls?
Define the “broken cisterns” in your life.
What do you go to when you’re feeling insecure? Do you search for attention from guys or validation from the people around you when you’re feeling devalued? When that guy doesn’t text or your photo doesn’t get as many likes as you anticipated, how do you respond? When we catch ourselves starting to look for fulfillment apart from Jesus, then we can deal with those areas.
Ditch those cisterns.
Memorizing Scripture (Ephesians 3:19 and 2 Corinthians 3:5 are great ones to start with!) and setting aside time to spend in God’s Word are ways that we can redirect our focus. Once Joe Kennedy was headed down in that plane, there was no backing out, but because of Jesus, we can choose to turn around and head towards truth. That’s the beautiful thing about the gospel: we don’t have to work our way back to Jesus’ favor. We’re His kids, and He loves us like a father. It breaks God’s heart when we go on that fruitless search for value when all along He holds the secret to it. All we have to do is draw near and ask.
Don’t go back!
We’re all sinners, so the temptation to look for our identity in things besides Jesus isn’t going away anytime soon. We face it every day. But that doesn’t mean we have to bow to it. Psalm 18:35 says:
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
God knows our hearts, and he created us with a longing that only He can fill. Let’s stop searching for fulfillment in things that will vanish before our eyes. Jesus offers true, lasting satisfaction. He defines our value and worth, and He created us in His image for His purpose.
Joe Kennedy’s story ended in sad disappointment, but ours doesn’t have to. We can choose to leave our broken cisterns behind and run to Jesus for what only He can give us—our identity and acceptance in Him.