Went to my favorite camp this weekend!. I remember many campers would come to have fun and receive a “good” feeling all week. They could “get away” from all that’s going on around them at home. (we were even guilty of thinking: this is their getaway…lets make it as exciting as possible, forgetting that really we were there to bring the Word of God to them so they might take with them something long-lasting beyond temporary bliss) And while sometimes we may need that (to get away and refresh), the desire to do it, want for “good” feeling, or the addiction for it (which we may need to admit is part of the problem) is a problem. It may even point to other issues.
We often do things for a feeling. Most often we are trying to get a “good” feeling. A happy, energized feeling. (There is nothing wrong with the feeling itself, but TRYING to receive, achieve or get that feeling opens up a door to trouble.)
For some, running gives us that “good” feeling. Others get the energized, non-sleepy feeling they’re looking for by drinking coffee. Some get that feeling by achieving compliments from others, other by receiving awards. Maybe the feeling comes from being around people, or by hiking in the back country alone. Maybe some feel “good” when they’re singing or dancing. For others, it’s buying things or being given things. We use these different avenues to “keep us going” until the next time we can reach our “happy” status again.
Happiness in itself is not a bad thing, but constantly trying to achieve it in some way so that we feel good can become a distraction. Either we use these distractions to avoid dealing with what may really be going on in our lives, or we are so busy trying to achieve a feeling, that we ignore our spiritual or mental, or maybe even physical, health.
God does not call us to seek anything that is temporary. He is not calling us to things that make us feel “good”. Sometimes we even use Him to justify our looking for happiness, “God wouldn’t want me to feel neglected now would He?” or “This feels great, it must be from the Lord!” Or even worse, maybe we follow the Lord when it feels good, but as soon as times become tough we go looking for the next thing to make us “happy”. Then we follow Him again because we’re happy, and it’s a never-ending cycle.
In many ways, we take advantage of God and His goodness for our own, personal temporary gain. But the reality is, God calls us to more than searching out a feeling. If we’ve tried to cover up pain, it will return. We need to seek Him to change our hearts, because ultimately the Lord is the only one who can heal us.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” -Psalm 103:2-5
Even more, let’s stop looking for that temporary feeling, and ask the Lord for joy, which is the long-lasting attitude of one’s heart. Did you know joy shows up over 200 times in the Bible? Kinda important huh?
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
So as we go through our day and our week, lets look to the Lord and seek to serve Him. Our joy is found in Him and by following His Word. This does not mean however, that we may be unhappy with our situation or what we’re going through at the moment, but it means that ultimately, we are secure in His plans for us. We are at peace with where He has each one of us.
I often have prayed for many of those campers who I first talked about, that they would find the joy the Lord gives, and it would reach beyond a week of camp. And I prayed that I would not also be caught up in the hype to promote a temporary happiness for a week at camp, but show an everlasting joy through my testimony. I am thankful to know of many campers (and staff) who found that joy, and have been blessed to share it with others! There is nothing wrong with us wanting to make a camper’s week exciting, but for us to look to create a “joyous’ getaway from “real” life could be a dangerous demonstration on how to live from moment to moment of happiness.
A testimony of joy through all circumstances is of utmost importance. You never know who might witness your joy, and find the Lord because of your testimony. While at camp this past weekend, many wonderful memories were brought back, things that made me happy. But even better than that, I know that I had joy while serving there, and that joy continues to infiltrate my life!
The Lord says that “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My (the Lord’s) sake will find it.” (-Matthew 10:39) So I encourage you, stop trying to find that “good” feeling for yourself, and start seeking the Lord regularly. Not just when it is convenient for you.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23