City of Perfect Happiness

I read this in a writer's magazine recently, 'RETIRE THIS YEAR... WRITING. Imagine a job in which you set your own hours, and live where you please: at the beach, in the mountains, in Paris. As a copywriter, you can. I know. I spend my summers "working" in France.” (The quotation marks around 'working” come from the author, not me).

Meanwhile here in France, the people in Marseille, down on the Mediterranean coast raise a ruckus. Now that the high-speed train, the TGV, runs all the way from Paris to Marseille, real-estate prices down there are climbing.

Troupes of Parisians can come down for the week-end, soak up the warm climate near the Mediterranean ocean, and zoom back home at the beginning of the next week to work. The people of Marseille don't care for the Parisians to begin with and they sure don't like them driving up prices (except for those who have something to sell).

Meanwhile back in the capital, traffic often moves at a funeral procession pace and you bump elbows and shoulders in a city filled with millions of frustrated others rushing, to get wherever they need to go. "Beep, beep!" Seems that Paris people can't wait to get out of their town. So they're buying up Marseille. Yet our writer buddy mentioned above would kill to live here. Go figure. Why is it that happiness blooms where you're not?

You meet someone new and that person fascinates you with his witty personality and charming demeanor. After awhile, though, some of the gleam rubs off and you see he's like the rest of humanity. (This usually sets in a few months after marriage). When we lived in Luxembourg, we loved to go to the old city of Trier, then continue on following the highway that meanders alongside the Moselle river in Western Germany to the medieval-looking town of Cochem. Wandering through the river valley, at the bottom of grapevine-laden hills it's easy to imagine yourself in another age and time.

'The people who live here must all be happy,” I remarked once to Phyllis as we drank in the forests, the vineyards and enchanting German villages. 'No problems.” Truth is some of then would probably love to be anywhere else, because troubles stalk people in fairytale places just like it jumps those in plain-vanilla places.

Happiness lives where you're not. Perfection reigns in lots of other places, just not here. That seems to be a rule of life.

Don't get too upset about it. Actually I know the place where happiness lives. 'Ah, quick, tell me! New York, Paris, Rome, London, the ocean, the mountains ”¦ ” Nope, happiness lives in you and you take it wherever you go. And if it's not in you, it doesn't matter much where you are. You'll be miserable in a castle or a cow barn.

Happiness is an inside job. It's a gift of God for those who take it in faith and live it in their daily lives. I've heard of people who knew the Lord Jesus who stayed joyful, even in prison.

Listen to this:

'Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Rom. 15:13, The Message).

Or try this if you're wondering what life is all about:

'For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Rom. 14:17, 18 NIV).

If we allow God to fill us up to overflowing with His Spirit and then walk in His power by faith, we going to take our joy and our hope with us wherever we go. Without joy and hope life gets pretty monotone, even depressing.

Most of us nod our head in assent now. 'Yes, you're right!” we drone, wondering all the while what we're having for lunch. No, think about it! We've got to find a way to make that truth a reality in our lives. It doesn't just 'happen!”

We reach out and take it by faith. We defend it against thousands of attacks each week.

Take some time today to think about what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God, and all the ramifications that has for your life. Years ago a Jewish rabbi had such a reputation that it was said that a bird - which flew over his head while he studied the law - would be killed by the power he was generating.

So, stop and think strongly for awhile, like our rabbi friend. (Just move your canary to the other room). We run everywhere desperately seeking joy and hope. We know that they are in the Lord and His Word, the Bible, tells us what He's given us. God help us to learn to let happiness live in us. It's not outside of us, it's in us.

And the Spirit of God creates it.