“Restore to me the joy of your salvation…” (Psalm 51.12a)
The importance of a happy soul can’t be seen any more clearly than here. David, the man after God’s heart (see 1 Sam. 13:14), has lost his way. He’s done things that tabloids rant about. Why? It appears to me David lost his joy.
When you read the account in 2 Samuel 11 there’s a number of things one should note:
11:1- David’s disengaged. When your soul is weary you naturally pull away. Energy, focus, and passion are necessary for our engagement, so when they drop down- we drop out! If you are disengaging from your work, family, church and friends…WATCH OUT!
11:2- David’s wandering. He’s not with his men. He’s not able to sleep. He’s anxious and feeling “dead” in his soul. He goes to the roof…but where’s his harp? Where is his journal to write poems? Where is his focus? It’s off. If someone were watching your life from a distance (like we can look at David’s now) would they say you have a clear focus and aim in life? Don’t wander…ask God for focus.
11.3- When our soul’s are starving for life…we are suckers for the counterfeit life. David engages his temptation. He’s done. James writes: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (14) but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (15) Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15). If your quiet times are a little too quiet these days it’s time to rethink what you are doing. Is your soul weary? Are you lacking energy because of stress, etc.? What do you need to get back to a more focused happy soul? Also take a look at the counterfeit offers of “life”; they actually drain us…where are these leeches taking life from you? Think about the best ways you connect with God (for example, in worship, quiet, etc) and get busy!
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The pursuit of a “happy heart” keeps this verse in mind constantly. Jesus wants us to have the fullest life possible. Of course this doesn’t mean lavish homes, big cars and Swiss bank accounts. No, Christ’s aim is MUCH higher. His wants His life reproduced in us. A big-hearted, radical life that gets regularly described by its recipients as patient, kind, humble, enduring, peaceful, and gentle. Those kinds of people whose life and love transcends the bonds of earth. They simply live above the fray. That, my friends, is real life! But to experience that kind of freedom requires a “happy heart”.
There are two questions that help us figure out how to get there. They are:
- What experiences make you feel most alive? (Keeping in mind we are questing towards a Christ-life. I have a friend who jokes by answering “when I eat excessive amounts of chocolate chip cookies!)
- What experiences make you feel most “like you”?
I realize these questions sound similar, so let me provide an example of my answers for each question. Question #1 is an expansive look at what pours life into you. For me, a walk in the woods is incredibly life charging. I love the surroundings and the quiet. Question #2 reflects more on your purpose. Your work life and career. The reason(s) you are here on earth. For me, #2 is answered by, “encouraging others”. When I’ve been able to encourage someone I feel like I am “me”. The person God created me to be. It is my sincerest hope that my tombstone would read, “He encouraged us.”
I encourage you to take a few days to ponder these questions. The will provide you with valuable answers to how you can best help you heart to be happy!
“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”
Listening to Pastor Sharon last Sunday reminded me of how very important storytelling is to all of us.
In a recent study, 89 adult participants were asked to tell their life stories to a team of researchers who then assessed their mental and physical health once a year for four years.
After analyzing the themes found in each participant’s personal narrative, researchers determined that highlighting happy endings (i.e the good and God!) can be linked to reduced risk of depression and higher psychological and social well-being.
The study called attention to agency (feeling hopeful), communion (feeling connected to others) and redemption (feeling that even terrible events can lead to good developments) as key themes associated with better mental health.
Furthermore, when you tell your story and I listen we both experience similar benefits! So whether you are the storyteller, or listener; it’s going to encourage you!
Grab hold of an opportunity today to either share a God-story with someone, or invite them to tell you “what He has done for them”. Either way you’ll find encouragement for your heart and help to your brain!