In our pursuit of happiness, we will find that the Father very often declares this blessedness over those who do good or who possess some worthy quality. They are blessed because they consider the poor or they are blessed because they are poor in spirit. But if our pursuit begins there, we risk missing the real secret of the thing.
We can never begin anything in ourselves that will last beyond our own feeble strength or our own short lives (even generations can come to an end), so if we are to find a happiness that is eternal – the only kind an unchangeable God can rightly recognize – we must have it from the Father at the start.
Though he may strive, a godless man can never attain to a happiness that cannot be stripped from him because it is not in man’s power to do true good or within his nature to possess anything of real virtue. So it is only by the granting of a merciful God that any of us take even the first step in this, our noble pursuit.
The Secret of Happy
This “secret” of happy is quietly declared on almost every page of the Scriptures, but David expresses it perhaps most succinctly in the 65th Psalm,
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple. – Psalm 65:4
Do you see where blessing begins? Not in something we are or in something we do, but in the choice of the Father to bring us near! Talk about good news.
If you’ve been reading the blog (and even if you haven’t), you’ll recall that the Father chose Jacob long before Jacob made the choice to hold on to the angel with all his feeble might! I don’t think that’s a coincidence, and I’m convinced it’s crucial to our pursuit that we get this concept before we move even one step further. No matter how much money we give to the poor or how many persecute us, we cannot be truly blessed unless we belong to Him and have taken up an abiding residence in His house.
The Blessing of Abiding
I believe that kind of abiding is the blessing of being called near by the Father, and I also believe it is the blessing that is necessary for all subsequent blessing in the life of a believer. It is that which begins to transform our nature – in Messiah, it is His blood that has reconciled we who were once enemies of God with the Father of Life.
Put another way, it is the blessing that ruins us for anything else. It causes the things of the world to “grow strangely dim” until the only thing that truly satisfies is the goodness of His house, the holiness of His temple – the abiding presence of the Father.
This should come as no surprise; it was the Father’s original intent for His creation to be wholly smitten with Him. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen, deceived world where many live with eyes that can’t see and ears that can’t hear – and I’m not just applying that to the lost.
Even as believers, we can so dull our senses with the vanities of this world that we forget our first love and our place of abiding. Even if we don’t articulate it or even realize it, we somehow end up living our lives as though we can bear fruit apart from the Vine (John 15:5). We strive to fulfill the law or live out the beatitudes apart from grace. We imagine that we can find happiness and blessing apart from the Source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
We can’t. Though we try, the Vinedresser knows the difference between “good deeds” and “goodness,” and He will prune every branch that does not bear fruit. If we give in to this process and cease striving to produce fruit apart from the Vine, I suspect we just might stumble upon the coveted and happy secret of rest.
A.W. Tozer said it perfectly:
Trying to be happy without a sense of God’s presence is like trying to have a bright day without the sun.
…linking up with others looking for the secret of joy: