I have been absent from this blog for a while..ashamed to admit my distance from God over the past few months and my misdirected focus to the things that so often distract us from a communion with our Creator..My life has taken some unexpected turns and as crazy as it may sound have once again found myself at a cross roads in my journey.. or maybe a better way to describe it would be "self awareness" given to me by the Holy Spirit...or a maturity yet not known by me and the opportunity to take this clearer understanding and put some feet (action) to it..
I am constantly amazed at how God works in my very own life..How He shows me or exposes my weaknesses and brings to the forefront the truly important matters of life..The bible studies He has me in, the classes that He has directed me to take (not necessarily of my own knowledge) until I get to days like this..where my mind is taking in so much information and my spirit is aroused like few times in my past..I am so Thankful God desires to bring me close to Him and quench the dry parched mouth of my soul...for the last few months have been like a desert with no water in sight in that I have strayed from my Maker and lost sight of my significance in Him..But God is faithful to us(me) and has once again renewed in me a fervor to seek His will for my life and to uncover some of the great mysteries of life, at least in my mind..
Why am I here? Not just in the existence arena..But WHY HERE in this house, this town,this job, etc..
What am I to do ?
What is the best use of my earthly existence to further the Kingdom of God ?
These questions are the birth pangs from my recent studies in Psalms and a class of Apologetics..
So here is a topic that most can relate to and so I would like to unpack this in my own mind and try to put this into perspective..
Happiness vs Joy..
Happiness - Good Fortune, extreme delight, feeling gratified (Websters)
Joy - the emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation: (websters)
I know some may think this is a play on words because one could argue they are the same thing..but I want to challenge that thought for a moment..
America is obsessed with Happiness..I would submit that this single word comes up in almost every single marriage discussion. Some might say "I am just not happy" or " He/she does not make me happy anymore"..You usually do not hear this " He/she does not bring me Joy". Happiness has become in American Culture the great virtue we all should strive to have..We should be Happy..if not then WE should change whatever is keeping us from being Happy..Exchange our wives for a new model, a version 2.0.. or going out on the town to have some "fun" and be happy in the midst of my unhappy life.. Happiness is a fleeting idea that is rooted in very shallow temporal emotions..that have no lasting impact..Happiness is in the moment, for the moment and that is it..Happiness can be stripped from you just as easy as your parking space at work...by someone else..Someone cuts you off while your driving, someone gossips about you behind your back and you find out, someone lets you down..all these are merely symptoms of where the focus is...YOU!!
Now lets just contrast that for a moment with JOY.. Joy is rooted in something much more stable and long term and not so easily swayed by the days activities..Sure things can go terribly wrong but true Joy is not affected by those moments or situations..and that is because they are rooted in something deeper..The definition above says "caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying". Dont we all want this feeling..to be joyful, or to have the feeling of Joy no matter how each day plays out..no matter what others may or may not do to you or for you..To not be like a ship at sea tossed to and fro..
So how do we get this JOY..Answer
Psalms 16:11 -" You will show me the path of life. In your presence is FULLNESS of JOY. At Your right hand are PLEASURES forevermore.."
Who's presence? The presence of the Lord.. Dont miss this..It has nothing to do with us or other people..If you want JOY and PLEASURES in your life..that only comes from the presence of the Lord..NO OTHER WAY..You can't do anything other than be with the Lord in SPIRIT to get the everlasting JOY that brings a smile to your face in the midst of the darkest storm.. God promises us that in HIS presence we not only get JOY but FULLNESS of JOY..and to take it even further..PLEASURES FOREVERMORE..not just fleeting pleasures but forevermore..
Many people think that if they turn their life over to Christ and surrender to Him that they will no longer have a "fun" life or that things will be boring or stale or that they will no longer be happy..and the ironic thing is that unless you do accept Christ as LORD and SAVIOR you will never experience the full depth of Joy.. a state of elation unequaled by this world..and unmatched by what this world has to offer.. Why live on the emotional roller coaster of happiness that comes and goes...why subject yourself to such uncertainty in life..Why NOT choose the GIVER of LIFE who will pour out on you FULLNESS of JOY..a JOY that will sustain you in difficult times..A joy that is rooted in something exceptional like CHRIST..With this joy, the mundane throws of life are not able to strip away.. Someone cuts you off, you smile..Someone wrongs you, you pray for them..If your spouse gets you riled up, you may disagree with one another but your Joy and love for one another is never in question because it is never rooted in what they can or cant do for you but rather in Christ..the Solid Rock to which is unchanging..and will never disappoint..therefore a joy given by Christ rooted in Him is everlasting and not dependent on how others make you feel or what you did or did not accomplish..I get chills just writing this out.. Dont we all want a life with meaning and significance that is is full of JOY and PLEASURES..not anger and bitterness, looking to be offended so you can be justified in your anger..or riding the emotional roller coaster of happiness that is dependent on other people who will always disappoint you because they too are sinners..
Our trust, our life, our entire life needs CHRIST..Without Him, we are lost at sea, searching for meaning and happiness and is no where to be found until we realize we have been duped by the world..That Christ is Faithful to those who Believe in Him..God has graciously given us a pardon for our sin...but it is on His terms, not ours..His terms are His SON, Jesus Christ, to whom He sent to bear the penalty of the sins of mankind..in order for us to be counted righteous in the sight of God Almighty..and not on our own abilities..So..do we choose to accept that pardon and be set free from eternal condemnation or do we choose to face our sins ourselves..and the wrath of a JUST God who can look upon NO sin..NOT ONE..It doesnt matter if you are mostly good or not as bad as most..Once you have sinned one time..You are no longer eligible to enter into a perfect place (Heaven)..but with a belief in Christ and what He did for you, you can be granted clemency and enter..and meanwhile until that day comes that Christ calls you home..you can experience Fullness of Joy and Pleasures forevermore..here on earth and your life will begin to take on the LOVE of Christ and that will manifest itself in everything you do..
What an AMAZING TRUTH it is..to know that GOD is in control and desires to bring Joy to your life and pleasures forevermore...(beware: those pleasures are not the pleasures of this world..the world and God are at odds with one another...what is of God is not of this world and what is of this world is not of God..)
I am renewed in my very own life by reading this truth and not just reading it but placing all my trust in this truth and allowing God to reveal to me the wonders of His Self..thru His Creation, His Word, and His Son..
How am I today?..So much better than I deserve!!!!!!!!!!!