Thursday, January 15, 2015
One Day of Joy is Better Than a Hundred Years of Happy!
I often preach on and post about the biblical principle of not looking back. I believe God is forward moving, what He has in store for us is ahead and not behind, and we can't effectively grow into His plan for our lives with our eyes fixed on the rear view mirror. One of my favorite scriptures that I remind myself of often is Luke 9:62 "Any man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God." Can I get an Amen!
Even though it is biblical that we not look back, I do believe it is quite practical that we think back from time to time. After all, how can we ever grow wiser and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. So, for a moment I want to think back to my life before I got saved. So here we go. This is just between us, so don't be telling people my bizness..ok?
I gave my heart to the Lord in 1997. Every thing started to change in my life on that day, and I am so glad to now be counted among the redeemed. However, I have to admit that during those 26 years that I lived without living for Christ...I was happy. I know that might sound counter-productive to my evangelical calling, but I was. I was happy. Sure there were rough times, sad times, and painful times. But overall, they were happy times. I had a happy childhood, a happy adolescence, and a happy young adult life. If my life were chronicled like a reality show, and I could randomly select footage from say just the last 5 years before I came to Christ, you would see a whole lot more smiles than frowns; a lot more laughing than crying. Even when I was about as far away from God as I had ever been; during the times I was "running the roads" as folks around here say, I was having a blast. I may have woke up many mornings hungover, empty-walleted, and afraid to try too hard to recollect what I did the night before because I didn't want a pesky little thing like guilt to slow me down from doing it all over again. But...I was happy.
I have come to realize that I have, and many other preachers have, incorrectly or perhaps incompletely described the life of an unsaved soul. We describe it as dark, dreary and void of any happiness. And for some that is completely true, but for others that's only partly true. And when we do that, we imply that Christ ONLY came for those who are unhappy with their lives without Him. But that's not true. He also came for those walking around singing "Because I'm Happyyyyy..." and if you told them they needed saving, they'd ask "From what?!".
See, on that day that I recognized my plight as a sinner, realized my need for a savior, and professed my faith in Jesus, at that moment I saw what I had been missing. It wasn't happiness. It was joy. And like a child who's never had chocolate ice cream never has a craving for chocolate ice cream, I didn't even know what I was missing. All those years, I thought happiness was enough. I thought momentary smiles that masked the tears of my soul were enough. I thought a few hours of fun was fair trade for years of regret. I thought that enjoying myself was the goal regardless if I was killing myself in the process.
Oooooh, but now that I've had chocolate ice cream. Now that I know what it's like to truly smile inside and out even when my circumstances say I should be crying. Now that I know what it's like to have a peace that passes all understanding. Now that I know how it feels to have heaven in my heart when there's hell all around me. Now that I know what joy really is, I wouldn't go back for nothing. I wouldn't take a hundred years of happiness in exchange for one day of the heart-filling, soul-quenching, life-changing joy that I've found through Jesus.
The Apostle Peter had seen both sides, and I think he said it well. So I'll leave you with a passage. 1 Peter 1:8-9 "You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls."