[image: The Good Life, 2012, JA Van Devender]
Deuteronomy 30:15–16 (NKJV)
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
Redding's lyrics are essentially about loneliness and unfulfilled searching but the actual effect is to produce a somewhat nostalgic longing. We would sort of like to be there with him, watching that tide roll in and the watching it roll back out again. It is such a satisfying idea... to be completely relaxed... no one harping at us to hurry up and go buy something or look at something or get this or that done. The loneliness seems like a small price to pay for peace.
The picture of man's intended destination, painted in Scriptures, especially in eschatological prophecy, is one of peace and contentment... though, I don't believe inactivity is the primary lifestyle. Voicing the in-most desires, the barely articulated or even recognized longing that resides in the hidden recesses of that complex entity called Man, the prophets saw a day when the "lion would lie down with the lamb", when the last enemy to be destroyed was "Death" itself, when every valley would be exalted and every mountain laid low. The absence of frustration, conflict, and death is accentuated by the total fulfillment of our human potential, the removal of all hindrances to our development, and the final clarity of truth. Justice would at last reign, things would be as they "ought to be" even if, in our fallen-ness we cannot clearly articulate just what that means. We know that evil will be judged, abolished and condemned and righteousness vindicated, perpetuated and commended, but again, how that is going to actually work out, well, we have only the dimmest perception.
Say what you will, but the longing for that is what put folks like Otis Redding on that "Dock of the Bay" and that is, at root, what every human being seeks with lesser or greater intensity. We are all searching... for that which will furnish those things mentioned... and failing to find it, in this life, in this fallen world, is the great witness to the futility of Man to discover and attain the good life through his own resources.
But the sheer fact of the desire... the longing... the wishfulness... the nostalgic maudlin whining that men and women exhibit when they find themselves so "sitting" is proof in my mind of our corporate unified heritage. It transcends human races and social orders... it is as human as our minds themselves. It unites us to each other and to our common ancestor Adam. What we aspire to is what he had and what he lost. It was God's grace that kicked him out of that garden after he fell. If he had eaten of that tree of life we would be condemned to live forever in unfulfilled sadness. It was God's grace again which sent a New Adam to undertake a new trial and, upon victorious completion of it, establish us, we who know Him, in hopeful expectation of our desires being at last satisfied. What one man's sinful act took away another man's one act of righteousness restored.
So... the longing prompts us to seek... the passage above confronts us with a fork in the road. One leads to Redding's dock... and no further. One starts at Redding's dock and bids us to arise from our self-pity and wishful thinking and follow the path of God's Kingdom. Here is life and death, every man must choose between them, and there is no third option.
The "Good Life" is not only possible, it is inevitable. But not everyone shall know it.