There’s a store near me that I visit fairly often. A couple of times I’ve had some interesting experiences there. Here are two related ones.
The first time, I went to buy some lemon. I asked, “Do you have lemon?” The lady responds, “Lemon what?” I repeated “Lemon.” She said “No.”
The second time, which was just this morning, I went for ginger. Here’s the discourse that ensued:
Me: “Do you sell ginger?”
Lady: “Ginger biscuits?”
Me: “Ginger.”
Lady: “Ginger beer?”
Me: “Ginger!”
Lady: “Daabi, daabi.” Translated: “No, no.”
Again I walked away empty-handed, but not empty of thought. I scanned her store and noticed she sold nothing natural. Everything she sold came out of a factory, at least as far as my eyes could tell. I thought to myself; Hmm, here’s a store keeper so used to selling every alternative version of natural things but the thing themselves. So trained on the lookalike that she forgets the look, and so comfortable with the copy she forgets the original. Lemon had to be lemon tea or lemon toffee or something other than just lemon, and ginger had to be ginger biscuits or tea, or – as she suggested to a teetotaler like myself, ginger beer.
I wonder If we’re much different from her, or if we’re guilty of the very same things with the less fruity/spicy aspects of our lives. It’s not altogether uncommon for us to seek genuine happiness in the things that most look like them, but are never quite the thing itself. Be it the sense of genuine intimacy in illegitimate affairs, the heights of bliss in the high of drugs, or the sense of a transcendent Being in our lives in the philosophy of all the religions of the world, we’re all guilty, I think.
But we’re all also aware that the lookalike we get is never really the thing itself; we’re all still able to feel the unstopped void, the unfilled hole, the unoccupied vacuum of our own deception. You will only ever be all you really want to be if you start to pursue that and nothing else. Though it will remain much less difficult to obtain the semblance of your success, ultimately it will not give you the reward you seek, the joy you yearn for, or the peace you covet.
“Man, know thyself,” has become the maxim that the contemporary, post-modern philosopher would recommend to you, if you are going to attain your truest joys and reach the greatest heights. Yet most are unaware that there is a nobler, more effective – yes, more authentic – maxim. The resounding call of the Bible is “Man, know thy God.”
For instance:
1 Chronicles 28:9 – “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Know thy God then, and He who made you will give you true self knowledge. This is the sure way to the real you, and the starting point of the journey to your most authentic fulfillment in life.

Agana-Nsiire Agana is a theologian, communicator and writer. His passion is for communicating eternal truth in a contemporary context which is influenced by postmodern, secular thought. The gospel, though unchanging, can and should be expressed in terms of the challenges, philosophy and language of the present day.