Buying Happiness?

I’ve always heard, “You can’t buy happiness.” But this morning I was scrolling through potential apps for my NookHD+ and I came across this:

WP happiness app And not only can I buy happiness, but I get another app free.

When I started writing this post I wanted a graphic of the old happiness quote, so I went searching. I found countless quotes suggesting you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy something (chocolate, bikes, coffee, books, or tea…and those were the family friendly options…) that’s pretty close to it. Most of them were cute and maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but this one really troubled me:

WP steal it Really?

The problem with happiness is that it is typically associated with a particular circumstance or emotional response to an experience. What God promises is something far deeper and way more lasting: joy. That’s why James could write: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

We don’t need an app or a t-shirt to help us find joy. And we certainly don’t need to steal it.

As Jesus was facing his final hours, he prayed. John records it in his gospel (see John 17). In that prayer, Jesus spoke to God. But he did it so the disciples could hear. He said, 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. (John 17:13, NIV)

And what was this joy Jesus was speaking about? Knowing God. Being in relationship with God.

There is no app for that. No one or no thing can take the place of making that relationship happen for us. Just us…and God. Truth is…it’s already been bought and paid for. It’s yours and mine for the asking and the living.

WP joy

Advent 22: Ask

This year we are doing our Advent Tree with the grandson. It has been a lot of fun. Each day’s cubby holds a riddle/joke (appropriate for a 7yr old and all related to Christmas), a scripture verse, a Hershey kiss and coins.

Each day when he comes over he asks if he can “do the Advent.”

He spent the night last night and before he even turned on the TV he went to the tree. Do you know why Santa has a garden? (Pausing for effect…) Because he likes to “ho, ho, ho.”

Here we are two days from Christmas and he’s just about ready to pop! He just can’t wait. Like any child his focus is on the gifts. We’ve done what we can to fulfill his Christmas list, but inevitably we’ll miss something.

Last night he and I were talking about that very thing. He asked me if I was excited about Christmas. I told him I was but it wasn’t for the same reason as him. We talked more about presents and then I told him I wasn’t excited about presents, that I quit looking forward to presents a long time ago. He stared at me in disbelief.

I told him that I stopped asking for things when I was little because I didn’t get the things I wanted most. It took a while for me to realize why…and I learned it was my own fault.

While I still believed in Santa, I somehow determined that if I told my parents what I wanted it was like telling someone what you wished for when you blew out your birthday candles: if you tell it won’t come true. So my parents never knew what I really, really wanted.

I had not because I asked not.

I’m quite grown up now. I only believe in the spirit of Santa and I’ve let my parents off the hook for a lot of my issues and angst.

And I’ve learned that God wants to hear what I want, what I need. He wants to hear from me. It’s called prayer. And while my life is overflowing with unprayed answers, I find that the Shepherd of my heart wants me to bring those wants and needs to him.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about this. Sitting quietly, mulling this over, I realized that this asking thing is not about God withholding. No. It’s about God wanting a relationship. He doesn’t want to be a Santa God who shows up on Christmas (aka: once a year), dropping presents from a sleigh traveling past at the speed of light.

Bette Middler got it all wrong: God is not watching us from a distance. He’s right here with us. That’s why Jesus’ name was Emannuel. It means God with us. Jesus’ own parting words were: Lo, I am with you always. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: he won’t EVER leave us or forsake us.

How’s that for a Christmas gift? Not sure how you’ll wrap it because it’s definitely outside the box.