Happiness < Joy

It’s been an amazing few weeks away with family, I could certainly take up a day just on our adventures but I’m excited to get back into a groove and get current with you all Tuesday.  Being away from Chicago, from TV, from news, social media and yes even cell-phones has its benefits.  Though I’ll say that the to-do list I set off with is nowhere near complete… If only there were another 2 weeks to be away!  Despite my offer to stay until Sunday (said under perfectly sunny skies), we packed up and got back Saturday night and began the process of re-assimilating to life back home.  I could have stayed another day, or week, or month.  The connection I felt in the *thin spaces* was pulling me to stay, even the disconnection was whispering *stay*.  It was, of course, the right decision to come home and to press ahead and get us all to church yesterday morning.  For those of you that missed it, or who go to other churches the link is below and I highly recommend watching it or listening to it again.  If it doesn’t have some kind of meaning to you please find time to talk to me one on one.

https://willowcreek.tv/sermons/south-barrington/2017/07/cultivate-joy/

The concept for me from the message is separating happiness from joy.  They’re tied together for many of us, but true joy doesn’t depend on happiness.  Steve Carter does a great job dissecting the two.  The concept resonates loudly with me, and is a concept that I’ve struggled with getting a better understanding of personally.  When I was in my addiction, actively acting out I sought happiness.  Shots, or a rush of *happy* that I believed could solve the emptiness I carried around.  It continued and spiraled, all the while I made excuses because the happiness it brought me and the entitlement I felt.  However, it was progressive and so the little shot of happiness that did something for me earlier needed more and more.  The happiness never lasted.  I was trying to find joy and peace through happiness.  I confused happiness for joy, and I don’t think I’m alone in this either.  I kept turning to things of this world to fill me up, but I was left completely empty each and every time.

John 4: 13-14  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I began a process of recovery, and a process of rebuilding my relationship with a God I only thought I knew.   Not surprisingly I had it all wrong.  Our God craves us wherever we’re at, regardless of our circumstances or where we’re coming from our Father is waiting with open arms to welcome the prodigal child back.

The past few weeks have reminded me that my joy, my peace is in Him and the blessings He’s heaped on my family.  I’ve largely been without a cell phone, disconnected from all forms of media (social and otherwise) and I’m better for it.  My stress level is lower, my trust in Him is greater, my relationships are stronger and my *text-neck* is better than ever.  That’s not to say the past two weeks were perfect.  But because my underlying joy wasn’t in things, or vacation *moments* I rested and found peace in moments that in the past would have derailed me.  The expectations of what I thought I needed would have held my wife and daughters hostage.  I would have missed out, and come home empty and unhappy.  Heading into work on *E*, anxious and nervous.  What took place this vacation was me, in all moods, fully present and available.  I’m grateful.  I’m humbled.  I’m not surprised.  The Lord truly is my portion, and I’ve struggled to come to that realization in the past.  I will likely still vacillate at times, but underlying my worldly concerns is a peace that comes from my faith in God that loves me, and that loves you all immeasurably!

Phil 4: 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

As you go through your day, I pray you can feel Christ’s love for you over all the noise of the day.  That you can feel peace, and find joy even in times of trial when others around you might be sinking.

Grace and peace
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