Image: via French Press Mornings
Read Jesus Is “Happy” chapter 9 & 10.
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.”
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
“How beautiful the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that God of Israel reigns!”
1. “True Happiness Cannot Be Found in Anything Unless it is First Found in God.”
There was a point towards the end of college where I felt unhappy. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t depressed by any means. But I just wasn’t super happy like I thought a normal 20-year-old girl should be. I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to work after graduation [I graduated early, which is why I was questioning that young!] and my roommates seemed to know exactly what they would do. I would call my mom and complain constantly. She kept saying, “Stop calling me to vent and talk to God. If you aren’t happy, Katey, that means you’re talking to me way more than you’re talking to him.”
When you’re 20 and complaining that you don’t know what you want to do with your life and your mom tells you to go talk to Jesus you get annoyed. You get really, really annoyed. I’d roll my eyes and say, “Of course I talk to Jesus!” and hang up.
I tried to fill the void of not knowing how to feed my perfectionism [in my mind it would be fed by the perfect job] through everything from shopping to venting. I thought God would be bothered by my incessant nagging and I just had to work harder to become happy. As humans we tie our emotional stability to “things,” to boxes we mark off a checklist.
That semester I got involved in a bible study on campus that truly changed my life. I was raised in church my entire life and sometimes I feel that can stout your growth in your relationship with God. I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know what it was like to truly savor the truth that Jesus died for you. I had learned it from the very beginning and because it was something I took for granted, I wasn’t able to be enriched by the joy that came from it. It was like a present I didn’t know how to unwrap.
I can’t say the moment it happened, but as soon as I allowed myself to experience this joy from Jesus I experienced true happiness. True happiness and joy from the Holy Spirit is NOT a direct result of external circumstances. “Happiness is a natural result of knowing God and experiencing his love.” God is our creator and therefore our hearts were made to be satisfied by him.
I remember walking around Northpark after work one night and I called my mom [I remember this vividly because I totally cried in the middle of Sephora like a toddler.”]
I called her and said, “Mom, you’re right. I have so much joy because of God. I’m exhausted. Work was terrible. I have to pull an all nighter for a test tomorrow. I’m going through a breakup, but I am so happy. Nothing else matters but him.”
Of course external things will make us happy. A great job offer, a raise, a new home, a puppy, Mi Cocina [ 😉 ] are all things that spark joy. But none of that lasts or will even touch our hearts if we don’t allow our hearts to be blessed by God, to be a true follower of him and to cultivate a relationship with him.
But all this to say, I’ve been there. I’ve felt unhappy for silly reasons [ the typical “what will I do with my life!” ] and the real reason [ my mom is really sick ], but none of those reasons can ever take your joy away once you receive it from Jesus. Allow yourself to be fed. Just BE in his presence. Be in church. Be in his word. Be in fellowship with his kingdom. And he will do the rest. Show up and he will show you happiness.
2. Don’t Be Too Serious.
I touched on this a bit last week, but wanted to dig a little deeper.
I remember one of my first encounters with one of my best friends, Ashley Cates. We were at a blog event at Sissy’s a restaurant in Dallas. A girl commented to her and said, “You have it all together. I’m so jealous of your life. You have amazing friends and amazing job [you Instagram clothes!] and you are so gorgeous. I want to be you.”
Ashley looked right at her and said, “I’m just like you. None of that stuff is real or even maters. I’m only happy because of God, just like why you are happy.”
I thought, “WOAH, GIRL. TAKE THE COMPLIMENT AND EAT YOUR FRIED CHICKEN.”
But as I got to know her more, that’s probably the most impressed I have ever been with a human being in my life. She is the first to admit that her life isn’t that serious and she is only fed by him. If she was so into seeking happiness from her job as a blogger she probably would have said, “Ah! Thanks girl! Blogging can be so hard, but I work my butt off and the results are great. You should do it too! [she would have meant blog, not work hard! haha]”
Judah Smith says, “We can get too serious about life, and it actually reflects poorly on the gospel, because the gospel, by definition, is good news.”
If Christians walk around saying how great Jesus is and how he died for us but we are so consumed with ourselves and creating a perfect life that we get stressed out and way too serious, what good does that do?! If we are constantly so hard on ourselves “I have to lose 5 more pounds, I have to get invited to this, I have to be better than the girl next to me” we are seeking our happiness and joy from the world and not him. It’s such an easy trap to fall into, I have to snap myself out of it numerous times a week! But we have to remember that this world is temporary. It’s a blink of an eye compared to what God has in store for us forever, so let’s worry less about serious perfection here and spend that time in a serious relationship with him!
3. The Gospel Brings Joy, So We Should Constantly be “Joy Givers”
Judah Smith says, “My primary purpose as a preacher is to declare good news, news that produces great joy in people.” Let’s take that and say “Our primary purpose as Christians.”
Once we get that joy from Jesus we want everyone to taste it! I mean once I try a mascara I like you know I’ve already snapchatted, tweeted and instagrammed because I want you all to have it, too! Once we experience this happiness from him we can’t imagine anyone living without it. What’s the problem with that? We can sometimes think our job is to be savior, when our job is to be a “joy giver”.
Judah Smith says, “That’s the gospel. It’s good news for everyone. It’s not good news just for people who are already good, for those are are self-controlled and disciplined enough to have all their ducks in a row. It’s good news for the people who can’t even find their ducks.”
If you know someone that you want to be filled with Jesus, just take them to church! Invite them to fellowship with your friends. We don’t have to worry about telling them all the things they have to change to enter the kingdom of heaven.
We don’t go to hell for committing a sin, just like we don’t go to heaven for not sinning. Eternal life with Jesus Christ is based on our hearts. It’s based off knowing Jesus is our savior and having him be the savior and keeper of our hearts. So if someone’s salvation is weighing our your heart, share the gospel! Share the good news! Tell them they are loved. Tell them Jesus died for them. And then let Jesus do the rest. I can’t speak to someone’s heart, Jesus can. I just have to set them up to hear Jesus.
We should be so much more concerned by letting people know the are accepted rather than letting them know what they must obey. Judah Smith says that’s the difference between religion and the gospel. “Religion says that obedience brings acceptance. The gospel teaches the opposite. acceptance brings obedience.”
I love the quote, “Let no one leave you without feeling happier.” I challenge us to let no one leave our presence without knowing how much joy Jesus has for them!
1. Do you tie your happiness more to external circumstances or your internal relationship with Jesus?
2. Why do you think we as Christians can’t take ourselves too seriously?
3. Do you ever worry that you are sharing the “good” aspects of Christianity [grace, forgiveness, love] more than the “hard” aspects [sin]?
I’m all for good discussion! I’m a human. I’m not perfect. So none of what I wrote was perfect, either. If you disagree with me or someone who comments below please respond with kindness! We all allow barriers in our minds to come down and see other viewpoints when our comments are coming from a place of love, not pride.
Be sure to read Jesus Is Here for next week!