We live in a nation obsessed with finding “happiness” and a fierce drive for instant gratification but do you notice that when the texting and the entertainment stops and the significant other stops filling that void, many still find themselves empty or even miserable on the inside. Is this you? I can relate to the struggle of searching for “happiness” during my many years searching to find fulfillment from the world and others. Why do we find ourselves in this up and down momentum vs. a constant state of bliss? I heard a message one Sunday that explained the difference between seeking happiness and seeking holiness and it all made perfect sense to me. I came to realize that when I was searching to find happiness it was typically for selfish gain even when I had shifted my focus on finding spiritual fulfillment. In fact I recall asking “what is my purpose?” and that certainly seems holy, doesn’t it? Well, read it again…”what is MY purpose?” Still the focus was on myself and not God and what HE wanted for my life. Instead, not realizing it, although subtle, the focus was still centered around what I was going to gain from finding the purpose for MY life. This was just another version to help make ME happy by finding MY purpose for living and making me more important in the world than I really am. Now asking the question “what is the purpose for my life?” is not a bad thing, in fact it is a wonderful way to start seeking the Lord and asking for guidance. But notice how subtle yet radical the shift when you insert, “What is GOD’s purpose for my life?” By surrendering and asking for God’s will instead of our own, we truly start living for His diving calling on our lives and therein lies the most amazing happiness and peace that the world cannot deliver. We must get out of this trap that keeps us so centered on ourselves which keeps us so separate from God. In many conversations with my female friends I hear “we all deserve to be happy.” And I think, YES, that is true but at what cost and for who’s gain? Anything less than HIS plan focused on HIS desires for us will result in a never ending quest for our own misguided interpretation of happiness and many sad and broken lives in the end. It’s so amazing how much happiness is received when we make the shift toward seeking holiness instead. I also find it most interesting that our need to acknowledge the happy moments by serving Him fade away and that is replaced with peace and freedom that transcend any sad attempt for some short-term self centered happiness path.
When I look back and even find myself slipping into the old trap sometimes, I quickly remind myself of who I am here to serve – not me. And the most difficult part of this to realize is that we don’t give up anything to live this way but we gain our salvation and peace on earth. I think the world has convinced us that if we choose God’s path, we won’t have fun anymore and nothing could be further from the truth. God has implanted a desire in every heart and that desire is both His and ours. It’s the true alignment with Him that reveals that desire and it will bring more joy imaginable.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. ~ Psalm 20:3-5
When I surrendered myself to following God’s plan for my life instead of my own, I immediately saw the difference by making different choices and by removing myself from every situation. And the most fascinating realization for me has been the way He continues to bless my life with more than I could have ever dreamed of. For months I pondered on my decision to stay in the corporate world vs. a non-profit role and I questioned whether I truly chose His path or mine. When I look back on the progress, changes and impact that this decision has made, I have no more doubts that His hand is still in this journey. It’s a privilege to find His opportunities within the day and they are everywhere. There are unhappy days and really tough decisions to be made. Seeking Holiness makes this all okay because the intention is to always do the right thing vs. the selfish thing. Self-promotion, self-achievement, and making decisions based on my wants and desires are no longer the focus. Was this an easy transition, I don’t think so. At least it wasn’t for me but once I received the rewards of peace and freedom that came from doing things for Him instead of me it became easier and automatic. It creates the ability to live without fear because He is in charge and it’s not about me and what I can lose or how I will fail. Does this guarantee a life of bliss every day? Not at all and I don’t believe that God intended us to live by our emotions although the world has become a master of cultivating that in our culture. Instead, this is a peaceful, no-fear existence that rises above and beyond any level of “happiness” and it comes by fulfilling His plan for our life.
Surrender to Him – put Him first in your life and find joy in seeking holiness.
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ~ Psalm 56:4