Happiness? Of course. Then answer me this.
Happiness, anyone? Of course we all want happiness, everyone does. Do remember that this discussion was stoked by a conversation with my son Danny, who is 231. Having taken a college course on Happiness, the material drawn from a book called Happier2, he suggested I take a look. Having gotten the book, watched video teaching and spent time with the model3, my conclusion is that
one can live a very disciplined life,
intentional in caring for our physical,
intellectual and emotional selves,
growing meaningful relationships . . .
but if we do not have a view of the world that includes the existence and love of God and the promise of Heaven when we die, we will come up vacant every time. Note: I am not talking about religion; I am talking about personal belief in God that leads to a knowing relationship of his love and involvement in our lives.
You see, sooner or later, the deeper questions come - questions that do not find their answers strictly in one’s self. Whether like my daughter Amy at age seven--Mommy, can you tell me why I am here? Or prompted by a change in life stage (‘hey, how are we going to raise this kid, what we will teach her to believe?) or perhaps somewhere in the dark of night or at the end of life--the burning questions come. They are good and important questions surrounding the meaning of life. We may be the most alive when we are searching out the answers to the questions about how we got here, why we are here and what happens after we breathe our last--these are questions of origin, purpose, destiny or eternity.
In case you have not considered what you believe lately or ever, let me ask you how you answer the questions of origin, purpose and eternity. And how do you derive your answers? Ah, now we are getting somewhere as we consider our personal worldview--the way we make sense of life.
Whether or not familiar with the term worldview, simply put we all have a way we look at the world--and some standard, (solid or shifting), upon which we base that worldview. The last couple years have given us a great opportunity to consider whether or not our worldview, philosophy of life, is sound.
The foundational answers are all in the pages of the Bible which is what it is purported to be -- the Words of God… truth. Life finds all its answers in God. Notice how Creation points us to God, as Paul writes “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”4
A thousand plus years before Paul penned those words, in the opening words of the very beautiful 19th Psalm, David similarly suggested we look up to see God: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.5
I just finished reading through the book of Job - what a powerful, sobering, grounding account of a faithful man of God - who said “The Spirit of God has made me, and lthe breath of the Almighty gives me life.”6
Perhaps we need to adjust our vision just a little - at the start of this new year
focusing on the God who gives us life, the One who sustains us and tells us who we
are. This has everything to do with our value and our worth--you and I must never
lose sight that we were created by God in his very image.7
Hmmm, I will never forget the phonecall I received years ago while I was in New York City. It was a longtime soccer mom friend on the line, informing me that her young husband had passed from leukemia. “Will you please do an agnostic blessing for David at his funeral?”
Of course I said ‘yes’ (wondering what in the world such a contradiction in terms would look like), and when I got back to San Clemente, ran by their home for a
brief hello. It was then I spied the funeral folder headed by bold words: passion and purpose. Searching for a poem that captured both elements of the man, I hit upon the fact that the oldest word for poem was the Greek word ‘poesis’ which means making. Friends, this is the word that Paul used when he said ‘we are God’s poema, his masterpiece.8
It is not all up to us plan and execute each detail of our lives in order to be happy. No, no we were uniquely and intelligently designed by our Creator, so it must be to Him we look for meaning and purpose in our beautiful lives. Go outside, look up . . . if the Lord created the skies with such beauty and thought, think how much more he thought of you.
Walk now in that life-giving truth!
2 - “Learn the secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment”: Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD.
3 - Ben-Shahar uses acronym SPIRE. Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, Emotional aspects of ourselves. Biggest issue - definition of ‘spiritual’
4 - Romans 1.19-20
5 - Psalm 19.1-4
6 - Job 33.4
7 - Genesis 1.27
8 - Ephesians 2.10