Pursuing a goal can make one happy. Achieving that goal can also bring happiness. But how long does it last? You graduated. Wonderful. You feel happy. Now find a job. Unemployment will not make for happiness.
You finally find a nice job. Terrific! Now you’re happy again! But you have no social life. Now you’re not so happy. You buy things you’ve always wanted. Now you’re happy. But the excitement of material things wears off. Now you’re unhappy.
You need people, friends. You need someone to love, a mate. Now you’re discontented. You spot the person of your dreams. Now you’re happy. How do you engage this person, make them fall in love with you? The possibilities are intoxicating. The anticipation is exhilarating.
You introduce yourself. The person reciprocates your interest. Now you are happy! You date. You fall in love. You marry. You are ecstatic with joy! You start to believe in happily ever after! All of a sudden — life happens.
You get used to each other. You are no longer swept off your feet. That sudden rush of endorphins is gone. Happiness just tipped out with it. They graciously left behind contentment.
In comes your first child! Happiness returns in a bundle of joy! You never knew happiness like this! Watching your baby’s first steps, hearing their first words, tickling them, laughing together, running wild, dancing, watching cartoons, teaching them — this is happiness beyond compare.
Then your child becomes a teenager. Happiness starts hiding behind the tension and rebellion of a know-it-all adolescent right in your face. Happiness takes a vacation.
The daily routine of work, family life, paying bills, health issues and world concerns become so monotonous that you no longer know what happiness is. You ask around. No one else seems to know either. Some say it’s hard to tell what does bring happiness — poverty and wealth have both failed. Being happy is reduced to a cliche.
Shell shocked, you set out on a search for true happiness — not the temporary kind that keeps changing with time, possessions and people — you want a happiness anchored in something permanent, something real.
You heard about the life-changing effects of the Holy Bible but never read it for yourself. You’ve tried everything else for happiness, you figure this is as good a time as any to start reading this book professing to be from God.
What you didn’t expect is that while you’re reading the Bible, the Bible is reading you. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
If this book is a link between God and man, if it is like a letter from a father given to all of his children, He will know when it is being read. He will know His child is searching for Him. As you start to read certain verses, they touch your heart and bring tears to your eyes. Your heart opens so wide it feels like it will burst.
Something inside of you wants to express itself. You close your eyes — tears falling and you don’t know why — to someone you believe can hear you.
You feel humbled. You feel grateful. You feel peaceful. You feel happy. The more you read that ancient book, the more you pray for guidance and apply its counsel, you find a hope linked with eternity growing inside of you. You feel wanted. You feel loved. You feel valued by someone greater than anyone or anything you have ever known. You feel a steady flow of happiness.
This happiness, you learn, is increased the more you give. Whenever you give your time, energy and resources to serve God — when you give of yourself to help your neighbors to learn about Him — when you give to your family what they need and deserve — you not only find happiness, you become happiness.
When people see you coming they become happy. You are a real joy to be around. You bring good news, positive feelings, relief from stress, laughter, encouragement, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a Scripture to share — you bring light and you let your light shine.
Over the years you found many forms of happiness. What made you happy as a child did not always make you happy as a teenager. What made you happy as a teenager was no longer as fulfilling as an adult. The happiness that came in stages and left in stages was never enough.
Most people who find stages of happiness find it transient, elusive and unfulfilling. Lasting happiness is contingent on one thing, an ever growing, intimate relationship with God. James 4:8 says, “Draw close to God and he will draw close to you.”
Can we ever draw too close to God? This is more than a goal. It is a never ending journey toward a happiness that knows no limit.
*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more than 100 Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.