Mariscos in Madrid. Breakfasting in Budapest. Safaris through the Serengeti. I often marvel over how these luxuries used to be exclusive to the elite but are now available to the masses.

In my lifetime alone, those of us fortunate enough to live in wealthier countries have watched our experiences grow more adventurous and our palates develop cravings for dishes our ancestors never dreamed of tasting.

Our grandest ambitions are more attainable than ever. We can be famous from the comfort of our own homes. We can write a book of poetry and publish it with the click of a button.

We can do anything, go anywhere, achieve any goal.

Yet, despite a seemingly utopian existence of privilege, many are unhappier than ever.

Truly then, all that glitters isn’t gold.

I’m not speaking of unhappiness born of difficult circumstances, rather the pervading emptiness that lingers when all should be — based on our standards of success — “right” with the world.

Such sadness resides in the soul, that invisible place where the truth of our Creator and the need for His Son lap like gentle waves against our perception.

It makes sense then, that our access to more — more excursions, more followers, more name brands, more delights — is insufficient. When the soul is starving, a traditional bouillabaisse served in a French café will do little in the way of sating that hunger, regardless of how good the picture looks on the ‘Gram.

To put this in corporeal terms, I’m reminded of when I was young and my doctor diagnosed me with iron deficiency anemia. He assured me that regular consumption of iron supplements and iron-rich foods were the remedy. I had zero symptoms, and the issue sounded so common as to seem trivial; therefore, despite being warned that the very thing sustaining my life was slowly depleting, I ignored the doctor’s orders. That is, until the headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations and fatigue set in.

In a similar way, when we lack time in God’s presence and His word, or when we deny Him altogether, we grow spiritually anemic to the point of death. The condition can go unobserved and unprioritized for a while, until our mental health suffers, our relationships deteriorate, our identities are in crisis, our reliance on substances increases – we’re heartsick and hurting. If we then choose to medicate on the More of this world rather than seek the Great Physician, we’ll find ourselves even emptier, for our souls need something deeper.

I’m not suggesting we leave the luxuries to the elite and go about in somber piety denying ourselves anything remotely enjoyable. I’m actually quite fond of bouillabaisse.

I am, however, imploring us to see the baubles of this world for what they are and to keep them in their proper place. They’re fleeting pleasures and possessions that merely promise fulfillment but can never deliver fullness of joy, no matter how shiny or exciting they are.

For true fulfillment, our joy, our identities, our very souls must be found in Christ, and we need Him every hour of every day.

So go to Paris if you want to, just make sure you praise Him when you get there. Tour the Serengeti and sing to Him of the beautiful things His hands have made, thankful that your eyes have seen them. Shop in Seoul and shine His light as you interact with others in humility.

Wherever you go, in all that you do, walk with Him, talk with Him, dwell with Him, turn to Him.

Ask. Seek. Pray. Abide.

Saturate your soul in His presence so that it thrives through His abundance.

And when tempted to let creation outshine the Creator, when pressed to pursue the things you want in lieu of the One you need, remember His promise to Abraham and cling to it as your own: “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1).

Make Him alone your treasure, for everything else is fool’s gold.

Tanara McCauley is a writer of stories inspired by the adventure she lives in Christ. That adventure includes one husband, three children, and a fearful little dog named Charlie. And books. Lots and lots of books.

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