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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 37. All of a sudden, I don’t feel like I’m a young guy anymore (for all of you who are older than me and are thinking of telling me to shut up and get over it, please give me some space and let me go with it for awhile—it is my blog after all). When I turned 30, it was cool. I felt like I would be taken seriously. When I turned 34, I started feeling like I was turning a corner. 35 was weird—some sort of benchmark—like half my life was gone. 37 feels like 40. I know it’s not, but let’s face it, 40’s closer than 30.

I remember Randy Stonehill had a song called, “Turning 30” a few years ago. Of course, when I was a young punk, 30 seemed miles away. He talked about all the cool things he had going for him and how he had found peace. He talked about treasuring the years. He talked about the lessons he learned and how he was “not too old to rock and roll.” I always hoped I would write some song like that some day.

I don’t have a song at this point. Besides, a song called “Turning 37” doesn’t have the same flare. But, here is my big lesson I have learned this year. Ready?

Happiness fades and is ever-illusive. Happiness is like a drug—it is hard to recapture the pleasure we had in a “moment” once upon a time and it usually takes something bigger and better to fill the same emptiness or give the same level of satisfaction. Happiness is a short-term thing. Happiness is dependent on what is happening around me. God does not set happiness as the mark for me. Happiness “happens” to me. Happiness is often congruent with entertainment. Situation good=happy. Situation bad=not happy. God doesn’t command me to be happy. Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness does not make a lasting impact on me. God doesn’t exist to make me happy. I can make myself happy pretty easily. It’s easy to sing for happiness—it’s harder to sing for joy.

Joy is a choice. I can keep my joy even when someone tries to steal it. Joy is harder work than happiness. Joy is not situation-dependent. Joy comes by seeking God. Joy requires that I be satisfied and content with God’s sovereignty. Joy doesn’t need a physical stimulus. God wants me to have joy. God tells me to have joy. Joy changes me. Did I say its hard work?

I also know this, God doesn’t remind me, instruct me, or command me to do things that I do naturally—which should tell me something about joy. Being obedient to God will not always make me happy, but I am convinced I can always find joy in it. I don’t need more things to make me happy—I need a vision of eternity.

I like to be happy. I think I’d rather have joy. I say “I think” I’d rather have it because I am not quite convinced. Happiness feels good and I like to feel good. I like endorphins. But, God knows best. I’ll go with the joy.