Month 2:28, Week 4:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5936:057 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 17 May 2012
Are You Happy? II
The Anatomy of Happiness Examined
Continued from Part 1
Every seeker coming to Yah'shua (Jesus) with sincerity of lev (heart) who sees the darkness and misery of the world is searching not just for happiness but for bliss - radical happiness - that lasts for ever. As we saw yesterday, though, life serves us a mixed menu that eventually forces us to shift our hopes for the 'whole thing' in the next life. This is not, as some would accuse, escapism but realism based on sound scriptural promises. Simultaneously, though, Scripture does absolutely say that we can enjoy the deep inner contentment and quietness that comes from deep connection to Yahweh no matter what storm is blowing outside.
Inbetween preparing yesterday's devotional I was reviewing some documentaries on communism that I had not seen before. One or two people are still trying to convince me that communism 'wasn't so bad' but the more I probe the more I am convinced that communism is a devilish death cult that keeps the enslaved masses 'happy' with handouts stolen from others and what 'good' that is experienced by those looking for the 'good side' of the system is in reality a case of Stockholm Syndrome. It is, after all, easy to be generous with other peoples' money and take the credit for providing it.
There are many kinds of artificial 'happinesses' and worse, perhaps, is the uncomfortable truth that much of this is obtained at the expense of others' happiness.
The way I try to represent these concepts is with an analogy. Let's say the state steals an artist's painting, puts it in a museam, and exhibits it to the public for free. This makes the people 'happy'. But this is not Yahweh's kind of happiness. True happiness is experienced by the artist who paints the picture. I think that's one thing I love about the late Bob Ross was that he encouraged everyone to get canvass and pallet and paint for themselves. The greatest happiness always comes when we are creating something, and greater still is the happiness when we are creating something for someone else. Then the artist is doubly happy because he not only experiences the simcha (joy) of painting but that simcha (joy) is crowned with bliss when the one(s) it was created for enjoy it too.
I am sure everyone will agree that being with a person is much more enjoyable than simply thinking about them or looking at a photograph. When we are with someone, so much more than sight and perhaps touch are involved - there is an overlap of psyche and spirit. A linking takes place. And while that can, does, and should happen over a distance, it's so much easier when you're face-to-face. That is why believers long for the day when they are united with Yah'shua (Jesus) and can see Him face-to-face.
A part of spiritual happiness - the heavenly kind of happiness that can then reach down to the earthly domain - is a contemplation of Yahweh-Elohim that enables us to connect at a 'distance'. Of course, 'distance' is a little different in the spiritual dimension since the connection takes place within. This kind of contemplation is not, as some branches of Christianity would have you believe, the reserve of just a few devout 'mystics' or 'saints' but for everyone. All that is required is a loving, attentive lev (heart) directed toward Yahweh which doesn't even have to involve words necessarily. True everlasting happiness comes directly from Him so it follows that it is to Him we must go for it and yield to His Derech or Way: that means submitting to Yah'shua (Jesus) and conforming our lifestyle to Torah
The simcha (joy) or happiness that comes from above cannot, however, be anticipated or generated by self-will. It can't be modelled on the earthly equivalents that come through such things as friendship, music, being in love, or anything like that. When these spasms of divine simcha (joy) come they not only takes you by surprise but they enhance your life so much more than the earthly reflections of it. Only then do you come to realise that it is the 'real thing'.
When I was born again in 1977 I was completely taken by surprise. It was nothing like I had experienced before. It was like being thrust into a totally now world of intense colour the likes of which I had never known. And what before I had though was the genuine item just paled into insignifance in that moment. Which is why you can never convince the unregenerated that what they have is a drab, lifeless and fleeting 'happiness' - they have to experience the real thing for themselves, and that requires yielding and surrender of self-will. Not before this is done is this kind of happiness remotely possible.
One of my most recent experiences of such a sudden outburst of this heavenly simcha (joy) was when I was going through a rough patch and wished I was back home in the heavenlies. In an instant I saw in vision the host of the Heavenly Assembly of the Firstborn (Heb.12:23), the Council of Yah's elohim. The vision lasted only a fraction of a second but the spiritual impact was what I will never forget - I just felt their presence, and the intensity of the Ruach (Spirit) that was shared between them and myself in that moment. The sudden intense fellowship in the Ruach (Spirit) filled me with unspeakable simcha (joy) and this sudden injection of Yahweh's ahavah (love) was what kept me going and was to prepare and empower me (unbeknown to me at the time) for a really tough time that lay ahead. I also missed them so very much!
Whenever we think about 'happiness' we inevitable assume some sort of emotional component is involved. And that is true. You can't examine the subject of happiness without considering psychology, namely, the operation of the psyche as opposed to the spirit. Some people are by temperament mildly depressed and experience very few moments of 'lift' in their lives. Others are by temperament manic-depressive and are capable of swinging between great elation and severe depression. We must also make allowances for cultural factors.
Have you ever noticed those people around whom conversation and cheerfulness flow unabated? Such people develop this kind of temperament because they spend their whole life with people, and for them it is more natural to relate than to withdraw - they are more extrovert than introvert. When you're around such people, they have a way of rubbing off on you. Now I know that people tend to exaggerate the importance of national characteristics - nevertheless, as one who has lived in several different cultures, I can testify that there are some real differences between races and nations. Just cross a few national borders and you will soon see that it is so.
My point here is that people express happiness in different ways because of their upbringing. And whilst we should and must change mentally and emotionally as the Ruach (Spirit) works upon us to conform us more into the image of Messiah, we must also be realistic, because there is a limit to what we can do in the way of altering our psychological or cultural endowment. We have been shaped by, and are constrained by, forces outside our control and so long we as are in bodies with all these deeply embedded emotional and physical memories we are going to be limited by them to some extent. No one can command emotional happiness let alone prescribe its precise psychic mixture. As human beings we are hugely complex and in spite of the misguided attempt by social enginneers to make people think and feel in one way, we were not designed to be identical. We have infinite possibilities as should be obvious as we consider this saying of Lao Tzu:
Our character is built up upon trillions of different mental choices over a lifetime that lead to different emotional responses. We are, additionally, shaped not only by our own choices but by forces totally outside our control determined by where we are born, what language we speak, what culture shapes us, and so on. To say that our happiness or misery are entirely shaped and therefore unswervingly destined by these to be only one thing is not realistic because our deepest and most enduring happiness comes in relation to Yahweh Himself. And the quest for that will ultimately - if we yield to it - direct us back to Him. Once connected to Yahweh, we no longer need to artifically manufacture or protract the 'emotion of happiness' as people do in the material world because like all things from Elohim (God) it is eternal and does not diminish so long as we remain connected to it.
Watch your thoughts - they become words;
Watch your words - they become actions;
Watch your actions - they become habits;
Watch your habits - they become character;
Watch your character - it becomes your destiny.
How can we know whether happiness is from the flesh or from Yahweh? Simple: if it's from the flesh you have to work to maintain it - if it's from Yahweh, you don't. There is nothing you can personally do to 'manufacture' divine happiness because it is not of your personal works but simply a function of remaining connected.
Continued in Part 3