Are you Waiting for Happiness?
by Rhonda Jones 6/12/2007 / Self Help
Many of life's problems stem from our inability to live one day at a time. We're either peering far into the future or dwelling on the regrets of the past. Yet, just think of the stress we could eliminate or the joy we could manifest if we would fully embrace the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11 that states "Give us this day our daily bread" and verse 34 that tells us "not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own."
Throughout scripture, God met the needs of his people one day at a time. In Exodus 16, we find that God supplied the children of Israel with manna each morning as they journeyed through the wilderness. God told them to take only enough food for that day. Those who hoarded more found that their surplus had turned to maggots. Similarly, God sent a raven each day to feed Elijah as he recovered in seclusion (1 Kings 17:4). The principle of God meeting our needs on a daily basis reaches as far back as scripture itself. I believe it is fear that causes many Christians to focus on the accumulation of more. We base our security on what we possess and the more we have the more secure we feel.
I have lived most of my life in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of lack. Fear of people. Fear of making wrong choices. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being in control. And that fear has caused me to be manipulative, make poor or hasty choices, be self-centered, bypass great opportunities, work excessively, worry, obsess on the future and ultimately steal my joy and too many of God's blessings.
Eliminating fearful living has now become a conscious preoccupation for me. No one would argue that a healthy fear is normal. Yet most of our fears are based on "what ifs" instead of "what is." In addition, many fears come from our attachments to the world. We fear losing what we have so we're forever working to keep it. Many people feel a sense of entitlement to live like the Jones and anything that threatens this picture is avoided like the plague. Instead we'll go into debt and become a slave to the tangible. We can be so weighed down by our cares, how can we enjoy, or sometimes even notice, the blessings staring us in the face today.
Jesus taught this principle in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day, our daily bread." Not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth where moths and rust to corrupt and where thieves break in and steal is a biblical principle for daily living. "Give us this day, our daily bread" implies that we may not know where our future sustenance will come from, but that we can trust God to provide it.
When Jesus commissioned the disciples to go out by twos to preach the word of God, he told them to take nothing with them. God would make sure their needs were met. When the rich young ruler wanted to know how he could advance to a higher level of spirituality, Jesus told him to sell everything he had. Why? The rich young ruler didn't posses his possessions- they possessed him.
Since there is only one incident in the New Testament where Jesus told an individual to sell everything he owned, we can assume this isn't a widespread command for all believers. Yet wealth acquired as a result of seeking God and his righteousness, should be the goal of every Christian. A great example of this is when Jesus told the disciples to cast down their nets one more time after fishing all day and catching nothing. Because of their intimate relationship and obedience to Christ, they received "the exceedingly abundantly above what we would imagine or think" blessing of fish.
Then there is the widow who agreed to bake one last cake for Elisha the prophet before she and her sons starved to death. God supernaturally filled bottle after bottle of oil for the widow, until she could pay her debt and live on the profit from the rest. Sacrifice for others also moves God's hand.
1 John 2:15-17 tells us, that the cravings of sinful man will be one of the greatest stumbling blocks to our spiritual development. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
James said in chapter 4:4, that we fight an internal battle with greed, covetousness and selfishness. "You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. No one can serve masters states Matthew 6:24, either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Most of us are slaves to money and as the scripture suggests, we're not going to wait for God to give us what we want. That's what thievery and credit cards are for. Material gain governs our decisions and fills many of our waking hours
whether we're rich or poor. Jesus said that the pagan, the ungodly way is to be in constant seeking of getting our needs met. I believe this has become the great preoccupation of our time.
I've come to the point where I want to be free from fearful living. For me, that meant becoming detached to my attachments, my cravings or wants, my expectations, and to learn to live by faith, trusting God one day at a time. A "yes" answer to the question "are my needs met at this moment?" meant God had fulfilled his end of the promise.
Living by faith meant stepping out of that boat of my feigned security and into the unknown. It meant the same for Abraham, when he obeyed God by leaving his extended family and journeying to an unfamiliar destination. What would I find there? About life? About myself? About God? I want to stop resisting what is and find the lesson in it instead. By asking questions like, "What am I resisting and why?" helps me to work through debilitating mental patterns and conditioning. If God allowed a particular circumstance, then it was for a reason. Instead of trying to deny it, avoid it, resist it, why not embrace it fully and let the circumstances become my ally instead of my enemy, leading me down the path of greater understanding, peace, and contentment.
When I needed to move several months ago and didn't know exactly where I was going, I jokingly told my adult children I might move into a women's homeless shelter to which they balked in disbelief. As outrageous as it seemed, the thought appealed to me. Perhaps I'd meet some interesting people, be a great blessing or resource, feel unequivocally free, or experience something that would make me a better person. Whatever it was, I didn't want to fear or resist it, like the person who loses his car and is now forced to take the bus. I would just hold onto the promise that each day, day by day, God would meet my needs, maybe no more and maybe no less, but at least for that day. He may also meet them in a way I'd never expect. However, the next day may be a totally new opportunity for me. It may be the day I cast down my net and at Jesus command prosperity and blessing rush in totally unannounced. If our abundance comes as a gift or blessing from God and not due to our striving and toiling then we will be less likely to hoard it and more willing to give.
So much of the world lives in dire poverty while many people build bigger houses and drive fancier cars to mask the emptiness they fill in their hearts. But true joy doesn't come from outside us; it comes from within us, from the spirit of God that resides in us all.
Are you overly attached to the things of this world? Do seek to quench your thirst from its illusionary waters. We literally can't have divided loyalties and have any long-lasting effectiveness or power as a follower of Christ. When our attachments become our master or ruler, it zaps our strength and rips from us the creativity, joy, and inspiration to be more than we are and experience more of what God created us to be. We're trapped, in bondage to things.
Of course, we should be good stewards over what God has blessed us with. But we should never forget the story of the man in Luke 12:10 who built bigger barns for his anticipated retirement which was cut short by his untimely death. Paul admonishes us in James 4 to stop saying what we're going to do a year from now, "buy this field, start a business, make a lot of money, etc." for we don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow! Instead he declares, "If the Lord wills" we shall do this or that." Goal setting and planning is necessary, for without a vision the people perish. But, we should never let the end destination or result steal the joy and blessings of living in this present moment. "Enjoying the journey" is a popular clique we should all live by, for
this moment is all we have at any given time.
I think about my late grandmother who received her GED in her 50s, worked most of her life in the cannery, and retired from working in a school cafeteria. At the time of her death at 89 years old, she had acquired several real estate properties she owned outright. Whatever she needed, she paid for with cash. She died in the adjustable bed she bought as she slept quietly through the night. While she lived, you couldn't have a
conversation with her that wasn't steeped in the Word or goodness of God. God's blessings and favor overflowed in her life because she depended upon him for everything, not higher education or a cushy job. My grandma would say, "I may not have a degree, but the Lord is on my side." She's my hero and I want to emulate her.
I remember one particular line in a favorite movie of mine, Groundhog's Day. The protagonist, Bill Murray, spent countless days conniving, striving, deceiving, manipulating, abhorring, and resisting his circumstances that caused him to repeat the same exact day over and over again. Towards the end of the film Bill said, "I'm happy now." He learned to surrender to the "what is" instead of trying to manifest what he wanted it to be. That happiness he spoke of came from an inner peace of embracing his life, right then, right now, regardless of whether another thing changed. It had nothing to do with his circumstances but everything to do with his perspective and attitude. He learned contentment and became a light and joy to all who crossed his path. This freedom came from accepting what is and trusting God for the rest, in His timing and method. Life is always going to throw us curve balls, but lets just try and catch them (even the grounders) and move forward.
Rhonda Jones is the creator of over 25 Christian meditation and affirmation Cds and the author of the Christian makeover program, Help Me God Change My Life and The Christian Power Hour Devotional Set. Learn more at http://www.thechristianmeditator.com.