“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. – C. S. Lewis
Author John Ortberg tells us that “God is the happiest being in the universe.” Our joyful, creative, energetic, and passionate Father wants us to be happy, too.
In fact, joy is part of the Fruit of the Spirit described in Ephesians 5. When God uses agricultural images like fruit, I think he’s reminding us of what farmers already know: Growing anything takes patience. We sometimes want to hurry the process by using earthly pleasures to manufacture joy, but what we get then is a poor substitute for the real thing.
True joy grows over time. I think the Holy Spirit plants the seeds and then, with our cooperation, helps those seeds grow into full, ripe, abundant fruit.
What might our cooperation in growing this fruit look like? Here are three assessment questions that help me when I’ve lost my joy:
Who am I trying to please? If it’s another person or even people in general, we’ll be frustrated. If it’s God alone, we will experience his pleasure. And that makes us happy.
Is my focus on the temporary or the eternal? Having a long view helps us forego an immediate pleasure for a future reward. That brings peaceful confidence.
How close am I to the Happiest Being in the Universe? God’s effusive joy will overflow to us if we consciously engage with him all day long.
If our focus is on knowing and pleasing God more than anything else, joy will come. Guaranteed smiles.
“Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous.” Psalm 33:1