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July 11, 1994

DRILLING DOWN

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Deion Sanders, the well-known pro baseball and pro football star turned broadcaster, spoke about pleasure in his autobiography, Power, Money, and Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life. Deion is a man who has everything and has accomplished things most people don’t even dream about. He is the only person in history to play in both a World Series and a Super Bowl. He scored a touchdown in the NFL and hit a homerun in Major-league baseball in the same week! Not to mention performing a rap song, “It must be the money!” that hit the Top-10 charts.

Deion had all the money and pleasure a man could ever ask for and this is what he said in his book: “I tried everything, parties, women, buying expensive jewelry, and gadgets, and nothing helped. I was playing great and every time I turned on the TV I could see myself on three or four commercials, but there was no peace, no joy, just emptiness inside. I tried everything to make me happy and I was emptier than ever. Nothing could satisfy the hunger that was deep down inside of me.”

Deion was drilling for pleasure hoping that it would bring him deep inner satisfaction. It can’t. Never could . Never will.

King Solomon from the Old Testament was a man who understood pleasure, and pursued it with the kind of dedication that others only dream of. He lived thousands of years ago and yet his story sounds so much like that of Deion Sanders. The thing that hoisted a person up in King Soloman’s culture wasn’t sports, but possessions. He had land. He built buildings. He collected art. He bought jewelry. He chased pleasure. He had, for example, 1,000 wives, which as Stewart Briscoe points out, meant many pairs of pantyhose hanging in the bathroom.

Over the course of his career King Solomon denied himself nothing—and could afford to do so—and then he finally concluded that when pursued as an end it itself, pleasure was meaningless, and brought as much fulfillment as chasing the wind. The constant chase left him empty.

Solomon does not contend that pleasure is bad or wrong. But he does make the case that it brings little satisfaction on its own. And in the book of Proverbs he gives many examples of stolen pleasure that brings disaster. For example,

Anyone who loves pleasure more than truth is headed for trouble—and will take others with him.

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