Monday, October 13, 2008

Happiness, Joy, Jackpot

I want a lot of things -- my own house, a dog, a new computer, an iTouch, a boyfriend/husband, for my friends to live closer, a vacation. A girl can want, right?

I'm a happy girl. Really, I am. But I often think if I could get just one of these things, I'd be just a bit more happy. However, I think I need to take my own advice.

I gave a friend some advice the other day when he was struggling with a situation he was in, or getting out of. He said he felt lost and needed to find himself and be happy again. I don't understand that. I've used this phrase before but now I just don't get it. Why does a person need to find himself/herself? If you're trying to find yourself, you're looking for something/someone you are not. You know, always, deep down inside, who you are. It's who you are when no one is around, or when you're around those few people that you can truly be yourself with. (Like my happy dance, I talk about it, but only a select few people have actually seen it in action.) Ok, bad analogy. Anyway, my advice to him was something someone told me in college when I went through a similar situation. Happiness comes from happenings. Joy comes from the Lord.

If you are stripped of everything you have, would you still be the same person? Are all of your possessions what make you happy or do you have a joy that comes from a hope that is rooted deep down inside you?

Up until a few years ago, I couldn't tell the difference between happiness and joy. Recently, I've seen the effects of pure joy take form in my life. No matter how bad of a mood I get in or how bad my circumstances are, I just think about something my Dad always says: "Remember who you are, and whose you are."

I am me. I'm me. I can't do anything about who likes me and who doesn't. BUT I'm a child of God. I've been adopted into his family by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and I belong to Him. I believe what the Bible says and I want to strive everyday to live as Christ and obey the commands (Follow me, go and make disciples, love one another) that God has given me. I want to be an instrument through which the LORD of all nations can use to accomplish His will.

I looked up the definitions of happiness and joy. This is what I found.

Happiness - n. Good fortune; pleasure; contentement; joy; implies an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction.

Joy - n. The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; a source of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.

Do you see the difference? Happiness is temporary. It's effect to a causation. It's a product. Joy is a state of being. A source of great delight. A source. Joy is a cause. Something or someone great valued and appreciated. Do you know what that something or someone is in my life? Jesus Christ. Galatians lists joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit of Christ is in you, you have joy. It's an automatic source to tap into. And in the same way, we are a joy. We are greatly valued by God.

Nehemiah 8:10 says, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." I really think that this has become so real to me in the past year. No matter how hard the world seems to hit me, I remember WHOSE I am and WHO is inside me, and I find the strenght to make it through, and praise God for his faithfulness.

I studied the following passage yesterday and got a little more out of it than I expected. This is from Luke 12:

13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Isn't this what we often do. We collect our possessions until we have no more room left and then we "upgrade" so our lifestyle can fit our belongings. Then we sit back and enjoy what we have, without giving thought to those who don't have.

If we are storing up all treasures here on Earth, investing in the here and now, what will our return be? All this earth has will fade away, so we should be "storing up treasures in Heaven." The treasures that in indestructible.

Matthew 6:21 says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If Jesus is in my heart, and my joy comes from Christ alone, and if my heart is in line with what Matthew 6 says, Jesus is my treasure. And for that matter, I hit the jackpot!

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