I went for a bike ride this morning and ended up sipping a hot cuppa in the corner of a delightful coffee shop. What a blessing to enjoy God’s goodness and beauty in the small things of life! Truly, he is everywhere if we would only look.
As I paged through the day’s paper my eyes fell on a quote by Albert Schweitzer: “Success does not lead to happiness, happiness leads to success.” How true.
It took me many years to discover that God’s perfection is best expressed in humanity’s contentment. (By the way, this has been a cornerstone of many Christians’ theological understanding long before John Piper was born, and you most certainly do not need to be a Calvinist to grasp it!) Our satisfaction testifies to the sufficiency of God’s grace, to put it differently. This means that Christians are meant to be truly happy people. It also means that if you are not truly happy, you are missing some pieces of your theological puzzle or its application to your life.
Perhaps a personal reference would be in order here. I came into this world with an inexplicable melancholia that ended up haunting me on a near daily basis. This continued for many years after my conversion. I eventually concluded (rather prideful, I should add), that the hollow emptiness at the core of my being was the downside of my artistic and bookish inclinations. And so I imagined myself as being in the same band as Hemmingway, Churchill and all the tortured poets who constantly had to fight their suicidal tendencies.
I was mistaken. My “impenetrable fog”, as Abe Lincoln used to refer to his depression, vanished when the sun of God’s love shone over it. And in its stead an indescribable joy bubbled up from deep within. I was no tortured genius. I was a poor lost soul who took way too long to grasp the central message of the Bible, namely that God loves me just as (JUST AS, get it?) he loves Christ. When that penny dropped my years of theological training, articles I had written, sermons I had preached and theological battles I had fought underwent a baptism of mammoth proportions. And what emerged was… new. Very new. In fact, so new that it appeared to be a different gospel to the one that I had been spreading for many years. Paul put it well: It all amounted to nothing because it was not based on love.
The man who writes these words is now a very, very happy man. I am indeed obsessed with the love of God. I sleep it, drink it, think it, talk it, preach it. This discovery has been my treasure in the field, and I gladly rid myself of everything in order to buy the field and unearth the treasure. And what a treasure it is! I have subsequently discovered that the two greatest motivators on planet earth, fear and fullness (or happiness, if you wish), are directly linked to the love of God, the former negatively and the latter positively. I have discovered even more, much more than I can ever share with words. This chest has no bottom. Truly, the love of God is beyond description. It is as infinite as God is infinite, for God is love. And if all else pass away, love will remain… and remain… and remain…
I dedicated my weekly newspaper column to this glorious truth. As it will only be out tomorrow, I cannot post it yet. But I will do so the moment it hits the streets.