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Reality, Joy and Happiness

May 21, 2015

Sometimes there is no horizon. Sometimes I'm just stuck in a dark room with four bare walls. Also, sometimes the help that comes doesn't help. Sometimes the things you've always believed seem invalid. Sometimes it all makes sense, and other times it's all just jumbled and incoherent. Some belief systems provide just the right hope and inspiration we need... sometimes. Some just fall short, sometimes. 


It's tough to see beyond our emotions, to set aside that which appeals to them and discover something deeper. Everything is pulling at us. Whether it be material things, places, music, words, activities, stories, or religion, they all propose some kind of happiness; even if it's just a commiserating that can relate to our discontented, empty state -- because it's good to know we're not alone.

I've been fooled into thinking my faith in God is the same way, and I've desired something more real. It never came. But whatever drew me to think that the God of Christianity was not real was a false proposal that led me to a frustrating dead end. Nothing was even there. Just emptiness. I didn't ask questions out of curiosity. I questioned the answers of Christianity because I didn't like them, and I wanted good reasons to go against them. I wanted a different reality, but found none.

When pursuing the truth, one clue leads to another. When pursuing a lie, false desires lead to nothingness. Going down that path does not garner someone more experience, like a battle-tested soldier or a renegade survivor who makes tough choices that leave him scarred, but well-weathered. No. Chasing that red herring, hoping for a reality where it's OK to do what our conscience knows is wrong, is more like going to a theme park, to our favorite roller coaster, waiting on line in the heat for hours, then when you finally get on -- about half way through the ride the coaster stalls and you're just stuck. It's a false promise that is much worse than unfulfilled. It's a trap.

The ways to get caught in it are endless. This rambling rant may elude other realities, but I want to emphasize one: I once thought that doing God's will was its own trap. Despite the fact that love of God was the deepest reality I ever knew, I thought that just blindly doing his will would limit my freedom. I didn't want to be like a robot who just lived a certain way because that's the way God made me to live. Where's the freedom in that?

What I didn't notice is that I could be happy not doing God's will. I could choose any number of things that the world has to offer -- a good paying job, vacations, a nice house, etcetera. There is a form of worldly ethics that says certain behavior just leads to brokenness, like breaking the law or becoming addicted to something. I could avoid those things and live a life of comfortable ethical hedonism. I'd still be free. I'd still be happy. As far as I would understand I would be OK. As far as all of the worldly proposals of happiness are concerned, I would be another satisfied customer.

But God's will doesn't give us this happiness. It gives joy that is sometimes a fierce rival to happiness. It's a joy that says "don't have that extra shot because it will only make you the life of the party, then rob you of true life-fulfilling vitality." It's a joy that says "don't take that better-paying job that makes you do things you don't love; sacrifice your time for your true passion. Or, if you do take the job, don't just watch movies and hang out at night. Instead, use your free time to chase your dreams."

Not doing God's will can lead to a happy life, but it won't lead to a very fulfilling life. If you've ever felt the joy of doing God's will you know there's no feeling like it. If you've ever experienced the sensation you know it goes beyond the senses. If you ever had the desire, you know that no desire compares when it's fulfilled. 

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