Holy, not Happy

When I was in my early 20s, I lived under the understanding God wanted me happy. I believed He would bless whatever I found to make my heart sing and smooth every path in front of me which would lead to a euphoric experience.

I was wrong…very, very wrong.

This message was toxic to my faith journey and stunted the growth I could have experienced if I had a correct understanding of what God really wanted for me.

He wanted my holiness before my happiness.

Now in my late 30s I am finally firmly grasping this truth and feel a deep sadness in my heart as I survey the culture around me. I don’t mean American culture alone, but church/Christian culture as well. My generation and younger have bought into the lie that our happiness is front and center of God’s mind.

It isn’t.

Holiness is directly connected to obedience, and in American culture we struggle with authority. We are independent, self sufficient, and more than capable of making our own way without any help. God sets up boundaries and we are frequently pushing against them. When we return to Genesis 3, it is clear that the boundary of not eating from the designated tree was established for Adam and Eve’s good. As we watch the unraveling of paradise after the sin, awareness dawns on us that the command wasn’t set up to deprive them, but to protect them. Their supposed happiness was really a mirage which disappeared in the wake of consequence.

At this point you may feel a bit attacked. Maybe I’ve made you push back or shut down because you don’t want to interact with the idea that God isn’t a genie working for your joy. I would encourage you to wrestle with this question:

What do I believe about God?

What we believe about our Creator will ultimately inform how we perceive Him, including the way we interact. Our understanding of our Maker must stem from scripture. Every page gives us a glimpse, and Jesus’ life showed us the Father. When we process all we believe about God through His Word, what may seem blurry comes into focus. Clarity can be harsh if it makes us uncomfortable or requires more than we want to give, but it always better to know the truth.

Finally, I hope you have heard my heart though all I’ve shared. I want to relive those years when my understanding of God was about my wish list, but knowing it is impossible, I want to give someone else their start. Are you absorbed with God being some type of happiness fairy? Ask yourself questions, find out where your ideas are coming from, and then place them against scripture. Do they hold water? If you are like me they will sink quickly as God’s Word begins to poke hole after hole in the misinformation.

Wonder where to begin encountering God in scripture? I recommend a daily reading plan and you can do this on your own, with a schedule mapped out in your Bible, or Bible reading apps. Several helpful apps are: First 5 app through Proverbs 31 Ministries, Read Scripture app, You Version, and Bible Gateway.

I pray this will bless you and encourage you to encounter God in a way to view him completely.

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