Friday, February 14, 2014

Don't You Know? Part 6

Don't you know that happiness is not the point? It can't be. Why? Because happiness changes with circumstances.

What (or who) you are happy with today, can, and probably will, change tomorrow. You've heard the old saying, "Don't like the weather in Texas? Wait a few minutes and it'll change." That's what it's like with happiness. Happy at the moment? Wait a minute, it'll change. Something will happen that you won't like. Heck I'm not even talking about a drastic change that takes you from exuberance to despair. Even going from say, the happiness of finding an unexpected $20 in your jeans while doing the laundry to the realizing you have 3 more loads to do, can be a real bummer and create a sense of boredom and monotony that is anything but happy.

On an even tougher level, that boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse you're expecting to make you happy for the rest of your life? Not going to happen. Not on the level we usually expect. And when you finally realize the truth of that, it can bring great unhappiness. And then we try to force that person to make us happy. That doesn't work either. They don't have it in them.

So assuming you have found the above to be true like I have, what's the answer?


He has it in Him. But it's not the happiness you think you need to live this life. It's a much deeper understanding of knowing a Person with more power than the universe He created, yet still chooses to be present in your life - in your every day circumstances that both please and displease you. Some call it joy. Some call it assurance that everything turns out alright. I like both of those words together: joyful assurance. I may not be happy, but when I look to Christ, I am assured that it doesn't matter. Not only am I assured He is right there in my circumstances, but that He's in control of them (no matter how chaotic) and that in the end, it'll all work out for me. THAT brings me deep joy!

So how about you? Where do you find true happiness that doesn't fail you?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Don't You Know? Part 5

Don't you know that life is fleeting – here one minute, swept away the next?

I was visiting the local TV station's website to read about a storm system due to arrive in my area after 10 this morning. The page I was reading was set up as a live blog page, with reporters updating the situation as needed. The first update at the top of the page read like this:

7:30 a.m.: The fatal Forest Hill accident and the wreck in Dallas near Mountain Creek Parkway and I-20 mentioned in the update about an hour ago have both been cleared.

Just like that, a fatal accident and it's remains (pun intended) are cleared away and life goes on for the majority of us. If I weren't writing this, I doubt I would even remember reading that line. It reminded me that we THINK we'll be here later today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… but the truth is, we don't know what the future holds for us.

Now I could insert a bunch of platitudes about WHO holds the future, living for today, maximizing every moment, etc., but that all seems trite to me at this moment. All of it's true, but it doesn't seem enough considering someone lost their life and friends and family lost someone they love.

I will say this though: Never glance past an item like the above without stopping to consider what it means to you and your life. I think you'll find yourself thanking HIM that you are still here with opportunities to make a difference in this world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Don't you know? Part 4

Don't you know that love is the foundation of everything we are in Christ? Paul called it clothing every other virtue we are to practice as Christians in love (Colossians 3). I call it hard to do!

I have been avoiding posting this one for awhile. I just didn't want to deal with the fact that I don't love others very well. But that doesn't lessen the truth of what Paul called us to do in Colossians. And while grace pardons, it does not excuse bad behavior. It actually demands we make right whatever we've messed up! God's grace came at the great and awful price of His Son's life. That mere fact screams out that we not hide behind the grace that was provided through such a sacrifice, but to take seriously our responsibility to love others no matter where they are at and to seek forgiveness when we fail. It's not an option in light of the forgiveness we stand in as redeemed children of God.

So as a chief sinner, in the worst tradition of Paul in 1 Timothy 1, I still need to practice love in everything I do to the best of my abilities no matter how I feel. And when I fail, reject the urge to hide behind God's grace, repent, get back up and carry on in the way of Christ's love.

You do too.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Don't You Know? Part 3

Don't you know that truth matters? In everything? Some think it's okay to tell little white lies. Some think it's okay to omit details - thereby not telling the whole truth. The problem is, when you allow for a little fibbing, you end up lying a lot. Sliding scales of truth-telling ends up being any but truth-telling. I think maybe that's because our society - made up of us - you and I - have a hard time dealing with truth.

Why is that?

Maybe because it's sometimes easier to just fudge the truth a little to avoid the hassle of having to tell the whole, unvarnished truth. Or maybe you are pretending you're protecting someone by not being truthful. Other times it may because it's uncomfortable to live in the unyielding light of the truth.

I recently watched an episode of "My 600lb Life." It's a series of reality-based shows documenting a year in the life of a person's battle to lose hundreds of pounds in a year. Most of them I have seen are successful. The one I watched a few days ago followed a bed-ridden (because of her weight) woman around who said she wanted to lose the weight - said she wanted to lose it so she could be a better mom to her son - but her subsequent actions proved otherwise. The doctor who was helping her in the process said almost immediately upon meeting and getting to know her, said she was living in an altered state of reality. Where she saw progress, he saw little or no weight loss. As he said, "The tale of the scale tells it all." She lost some weight up front, then gained it all back and then some. And then spent the rest of the year trying to avoid contact with him. And yet, as her year was ending and the show was coming to a close, she still insisted she was losing weight and on the path to success. She hadn't lost a single pound. She was living in an altered state of reality that she created for herself so she didn't have to live with the fact that she was unwilling or unable (because of psychological issues) to do what it took to lose the weight and get healthy.

I wonder how many of us do that every single day on small and large issues? Sometimes it's almost imperceptible to us until something happens to open our eyes. I know I can fall into that trap.

In John 8, verses 31-32, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teachings, you really are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What truth are you hiding from? Where do you need to be set free in your life?