Chasing Happiness But Finding Joy

How-to-keep-your-dog-safe-and-at-ease-when-the-fireworks-start.jpgI have recently been contemplating the difference between happiness and joy. It occurred to me that there is a distinct difference. For a good portion of my life, I have targeted them as relatively the same thing. I have chased being a happy person, or for lack of a better thought, overall happiness. Although I found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it, it wasn’t until I discovered that joy was what I was after that I finally found peace.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, renewed and “happy” only to have it quickly pulled away from you as soon as your finances, to-do-list and schedule rob your smile? That is the eternal pursuit of happiness rather than joy. Joy comes in resting in the fact that while your bank account may be thin, you are standing in your house. Your commute to work may be frustrating, boring and long, but you have a job to travel to. You have a boring meeting to attend, but, you have been chosen to sit on that committee by your boss. Perspective plays a large part in the difference in happy and joyful.

Happiness comes and goes. Happiness in life is like a grand fireworks display. There is anticipation as you wait for the next big, bright, beautiful moment when the firework glistens in the darkness. Then, as it fades, you wait in anticipation for the next one. Boom! Oh there it is! Wait, it’s gone again and the darkness has returned. Joy can be found in knowing that life is filled with happy moments, like fireworks, but resting in the fact that you are safe, even in the darkness while waiting for it again. Sin comes when we chase the fireworks. Imposing our will on the guy lighting the fuse. Chasing after momentary happiness in pleasures of the mind, flesh, the eyes or a drink. These moments of letting into sin don’t last and the darkness that follows comes heavier and heavier. It’s like running in quick sand. You sink deeper and deeper, while chasing after a quick thrill.

I found happiness in losing 5 lbs. in a week. I found joy in no longer being morbidly obese. I found happiness in stuffing myself with food and drink. I found joy in being able to tie my shoes without getting out of breath. I found happiness on a first date. I found joy when I married her. These are differences in a real life.

Rest in the comfort of knowing that you were created for joy. Joy in your life, the joy you bring to others, and the joy you bring to the Lord our God. Find peace in the life that you were given. Don’t chase fleeting moments of happiness, rather live in the heart of Jesus. There you will find eternal peace and joy.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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Avoiding A Postage Stamp Existence

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How’s life?

No really, how is life? Is it good? Bad? Just existing? Life is so much more than going to work, paying bills and waiting to die. You were created for a purpose, and that purpose is what you must find. How do we do this? How do we know if we find it?

When you look at some of the greatest people in history, I mean those who have lived what appears to be a successful or otherwise meaningful life, it may seem that they had it laid out right in front of them. History is flooded with great people who had monumental accomplishments. So why do our lives seem sometimes to be so bland and uneventful? Maybe it is in the way we approach our everyday lives.

Think with me for a moment about our own creation. Why are you here? Do you truly believe that it was just to exist? Do you think, in the mind of God, He decided one day just to create a life so that he could drop burden and toil on someone? Of course not. You, my dear friend, were created for joy. His and yours. So why are you so miserable?

I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. I want you to start thinking outside of yourself. What is it that makes you so downtrodden? Now, I am not telling you to sell off everything you own, give away your kids and drop your marriage. You are where you are because this is where you have been planted. God is in control but your free will choices have brought you to this moment. Right here and now. It is time to tend the garden of the world around you so that you and the others in your garden can grow and prosper, in joy, as you were created to be. God gave you and I free will, but he already knows the choices you will make. Time to let the Master Gardener take control.

First pray for God to increase your joy. Not just some whisper in the wind prayer but a true, heartfelt conversation with the Father. Let him know the things that pain you and the things that you are thankful for. Now listen. Watch. Wait.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” -James 1:6

Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be some expensive leather bound expenditure. A notebook or some folded papers will do. Jot down the things you have prayed about. Leave some room after each one. This space will be set aside to revisit the prayers. Start coming back to them and jot down how these prayers were answered. Watch how God starts to work out the heartfelt requests that you have laid out to him. Remember though, it is on his time schedule and not yours. You will be amazed how much of a difference this can make. He WILL amaze you, I promise.

Start reading scripture daily. Better yet, start Google searching some scripture on joy. Read it, mark it, digest and live it. Want some examples?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | NIV |

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 | NIV |

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Philippians 4:4 | NIV |
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12 | NIV |
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.Psalm 94:19 | NIV |
Lastly, I ask that you just be joyful. I know that life is hard and joy can seem like a distant memory or dream, but it is all around you if you really want a piece of it. Find, through constant conversation with God, what it is that He wants you to do and where he is taking your life. For it is in finding each and every day what He is calling you to do and be that you will truly find the joy that is meant for you. If you take comfort in knowing that all of us were created to bring God joy and to live a joyous life, then don’t you think it is truly worth finding and working towards. Let go and let God. It is there that you will abandon what ails you and avoid the cookie cutter, postage stamp, run of the mill life.
Be blessed,
Deacon Jason Bowden
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