The creator of the cartoon, “Peanuts,” featuring the hapless Charlie Brown, observed that “happiness is a warm puppy.” Who can’t feel a certain kind of pleasure when they hold a wiggly pup? But it is a passing kind of happy, isn’t it? Years ago, our family brought home a little bundle of white fur. The kids’ overflowed with delight as they played with Seth. Two days later, Bev was ready to return him to the store from which he came after finding the wallpaper in the bathroom ripped from the walls from the floor as high as the pup could reach! We had one of our most memorable ‘disagreements’ that day, more than 30 years ago, when I took the side of our kids and kept Seth in the family. By the way, he was with us for 15 years and she learned to love him.
St. Paul reminds us that the evidence of God’s Spirit in us includes a deep and overflowing joy. In Galatian, we read that the ‘fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY …” Have you confused genuine joy with the happiness of a warm puppy? The spiritual fruit of joy is not to be confused with the sentimental pleasure, though many of us do that. We chase after things that make us forget the sadness, that put a smile on our face, and wonder why our ‘joy’ is so temporary. For some it is a trip to the store to buy yet another thing. For others it is another vacation. Yes, I like to get another tech toy. But, what happens to our happiness? The puppy rips off the wallpaper. The thing we bought gets used. It rains during our vacation. The toy gets boring.
The joy of the Lord, however, endures time and trial. “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (Colossians 1:10-12, The Message) God’s Word shows us how that joy develops and is sustained – it comes from a complete God-focus! It sees beyond the moment, to take hold of God’s promise of working out His purposes in us. It roots in the fertile soil of His plans not our agendas. It is fed by an attitude of thankfulness.
I am no fatalist. Terrible things happen to people, godly and ungodly alike. Some may disagree, but I do not think that God authors each and every one of those experiences. It is a mystery that two things that seem completely at odds are taught us by the Holy Word. We are told that we are free, able to choose good and evil. When we choose to sin, the effects ripple out with consequences seen and unseen, that reach far beyond our immediate circle of acquaintances. And, right alongside of freedom, we are taught that God rules, that His purposes will always prevail, His promise secure and beyond failure. Joy grows when we understand our responsibility to pursue Him and rest in His power that makes us “sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. ” (Romans 8:28, The Message)
Today, would you pray for the fruit of Joy to be brought to maturity in you? Let go of your demand to be ‘happy.’ Stop chasing the high of temporary happiness. Oh, yes, when happiness finds you, laugh. When you are overwhelmed with the beauty of the dawn, hold a squirming puppy, get the great job – enjoy it, but do not make it your source of real joy. Instead, “rejoice in the Lord!” Make Him your hope and home.
Here are words from the Word. My prayer is that these truths will help us to live in overflowing Joy today and always.
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
(Psalm 37:3-4, NLT)
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:4-7, NLT)
10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning;
It’s time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul-
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before, O my soul,
I’ll worship Your holy name!
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger,
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055