Happiness: The missing key

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? —Mark 8:36

I was led to read Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness — believe it or not — by a prophet. While I’m reluctant to read into any single prophecy as the one, huge epiphany that changes my world, I take very seriously things that appear to confirm what God has been telling me. In the past season (about 10 months), I’ve been working in ministry and taking classes at a local community college.

First, what I’ve decided to do on my own: (1) Perpetually study as much as I can get my hands on, (2) Work in ministry to see if I fit, (3) Work out and diet properly to grow in strength and sculpt my body.

What it taught me: time-management and self-discipline. In the past, I’ve had great ideas scattered around all the time, but could never implement them consistently. In true-monk fashion, I’ve been able to really kill my temptations, really kill my distractions, and develop a fairly solid, continuous work in motion.

But God has a way of throwing us curve balls.

He started telling me to rest. He literally sent me at least seven different people in a two-month period who told me in some way or the other to rest. “You’re working too hard,” some would say. Others said, “You need to rest.” Still others said, “You are striving to earn His approval. He loves you as much as He will ever love you.”

One of them spoke over me, “Joy. Father, I pray that You will fill him with a deep, deep joy that only You can give.”

For the first time in my life, I’m having a difficult time “taking the easy way out.” So what does any human creature do when faced with a clear message from God? Disobey.

I stepped up my workload. The books I consumed got progressively longer and more strenuous (to give you an idea of what my book list looks like, I’m simultaneously reading, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview — a massive 700 page textbook, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics Vol. 1) — 1200 pages, along with many others: The God Delusion [for apologetics study after finishing God Is Not Great by Hitchens], biographies on successful people like Warren Buffett: Tap Dancing To Work and The Snowball [an 800+ page text] and Theodore Roosevelt [Theodore Rex], Team of Rivals on Lincoln, and still others to pique my interest in economics and finance: Piketty’s Capital and The Wealth of Nations). I’m also training for a half-marathon in two weeks and am currently pushing the most weight (strength training) I’ve ever done while eating the least I’ve ever eaten.

Discipline? Great. Rest? Not so much.

Now as I mentioned in a different post on my other blog, it’s not so much that we aren’t supposed to work. There is plenty of Scripture to back up the fact that we should do all that we are capable of. And plenty of Scripture to talk about the wickedness of a slothful person.

But rest? Trust? These things are difficult if we live in a works-based mentality.

So what’s missing? Well, if you read the title, the answer is easy: What’s missing is happiness.

Where is the joy and the passion and the higher purpose when we grind away, day after day?

Are we not told in Hebrews to “labor into His rest?” What is the use of working so hard if we don’t have the joy behind it? What is the purpose of doing works if we have not love?

Did Solomon not tell us in all wisdom to spend time with those we love, to eat, drink, and be merry?

So I pose a question for myself and for anybody reading this: What are we doing today that will add to our level of happiness?

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