Thursday, December 23, 2004

Three Rules of a Happy Life

I was told that for a happy life one must do the following things:
1. Never play poker with a man named "Doc".
2. Make friends with the cook.
3. Do not become involved with someone who's issues are more complex than your own.

The first rule is not a difficult one for me as "Go Fish" and "Crazy 8's" are my only card games. The second rule is a blessing to me because I make friends with cooks wherever I go. The third rule is fantasy. Everyone has issues so finding someone with simple issues will be impossible. However, one should avoid trying to save another person. That's God's work, not ours.

Rather than following rules, the secret of a happy life is to be faithful to God and pay little or no attention to one's personal happiness. I'm not suggesting you go out and make yourself miserable to be honorable. Why do that? A life of integrity and concern will give you plenty of opportunities to be miserable without trawling for unhappiness to make a statement.
I'm suggesting that happiness is elusive if you are searching for it.
The same is true about joy. Joy comes up on us at the oddest times. Jumps into the seat beside us and just bursts out. I can't wake up in the morning and degree that I am going to find happiness or joy, it comes or it doesn't come. Not that we are powerless over it but in a sense, we are.
I think a happy life is the by-product of being faithful to God. Doing, as best as we can determine, the right thing for God whether it makes us instantly happy or not.
The Peace of God is something quite different from what the world defines as happiness.
I began thinking of this when a Preacher prayed over us yesterday asking for God's peace in our lives.
Late in the night, the final verse of the old hymn "They Cast Their Nets in Galilee" came to me (#421, The Hymnbook, PCUS, PCUSA and RCA):

"The peace of God, it is no peace,
But strife closed in the sod.
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing
---the marvelous peace of God."

Peace to you this week and always.

1 comment:

Nightwoodkitty said...

Amazing! You sound so much like my mother, who managed to impart to me that happiness is not the goal. This surprises people, but rings so true to me. Somehow, it fits with knowing that people are capable of doing awful things and not being surprised by that, but also hoping that we can all do better and start over. Joy can come out of now where as a result of very simple daily things.

Have you seen Stanly Hauerwas' new website group?