Saturday, December 28, 2013

Created to Be Happy

Have you ever taken time to watch the squirrels or the birds as they go about their daily business? They're busy, but as best I can tell, they're happy and content. The squirrels don't sit up in the trees and mope because they didn't like what they had for breakfast. The birds don't fuss about how much work it is to care for their babies or complain when it's raining. Watching these critters, I have been impressed time and again by their innate happiness. Even losing one of their family members does not dampen their spirit for long. Could these simple creatures hold a secret to happiness that the rest of us have been looking for? I believe they do, and it starts with God and His creation work.

When God created the animals, He gave each species a unique place in the world. No two species were exactly alike. Birds fly and fish swim because God created them to do that. If a bird had no wings, it would still try to fly because of instinct. However, God did not create birds without wings because that would be cruel. He gave them nice big wings, as well as hollow bones to make their bodies lightweight and better suited for flying. God knows birds will be happiest doing what they were created for, so in kindness, He gave them the means to do it. In short, He created them to be happy. Seeing their happiness must bring God pleasure and glory, for it bears witness to His kind nature. (See Romans 1:20)

If God created the birds with such care, would He not also have endowed each of us with the attributes we need so we can be who we were intended to be? Does it not make sense for God to create a lumberjack with physical strength, a company executive with a quick mind, and a mother with a sensitive heart? What then is wrong? Why do we not find the same contentment within ourselves that we see in the animals?

The answer lies in a key difference between animals and people: the ability to choose. Animals can't choose who they want to be; their behavior is hardwired into them. But we need to choose. We must choose to seek out God's will. We must choose to submit our personality, our mind, and our physical body to our Creator's direction. If we do, I believe we will find the same contentment the animals have; only ours will be better, for we will walk in communion with God Himself.

But how can we submit to God without losing our individual personality? If we let God call the shots, won't we become mindless robots?

No, we won't. Following God is not about being brainwashed. It's not about becoming a carbon copy of someone else. It's about discovering the unique person God created you to be. It's about uncovering all the special attributes He placed within you from the beginning and learning what they're really for. God does not want to change your personality, for He gave it to you for a good reason. The trouble is, we have abused His gift. We have taken what God gave us and used it to serve our own sinful desires. We have used it to do whatever we want. Our misuse damages God's gift. Through sin, our minds, our personalities, and our emotions become twisted and warped. We can't fix them, but we can repent of going our own way and abusing them, and ask God to repair them so they can be used for good.

Romans 6:13 (TLB) says, "Do not let any part of your bodies become tools of wickedness, to be used for sinning, but give yourselves completely to God -- every part of you -- for you are back from death and you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes."

God wants to free us from our slavery to a life we were not created for (a life of sin, a life of doing things our way), and release us to live the fulfilling life He had in mind when He created us. In John 10:10, Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." Living life our way always leads to death, in some form. Living life God's way leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

It all comes down to a choice. We can go on doing life our way, and misusing the gifts God gave us, or we can come to Jesus, admit we've been wrong, and accept His forgiveness and start discovering the life He created us to live. God wants so badly for us to come to Him and find that life. Listen to His words through Moses in  Deuteronomy 30:19-20: "I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh that you would choose life, that you and your children might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and to cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days."

If we learn to trust God and yield to His guidance in our everyday lives, we will tap into a powerful truth the rest of creation already knows -- God did indeed create us to be happy!