Be Happy - Part 7
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Summary of the book The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud
What is faith?
“Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”
“It was by faith that Noah heard God’s warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built an arc to save his family.”
“It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to leave his homeland and go to another place which God promised to give him. Not knowing where he was to go, he left his country and lived like a foreigner in the country God promised to give him.”
“It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born. They knew God had a plan for Moses, ‘because they saw he was no ordinary child,’ and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order.”
“As an adult, it was by faith that Moses left his home in Egypt to follow the God others could not see.”
“It was by faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land. But when the Egyptians tried it, they were drowned.” (Above are various, paraphrased verses from Hebrews 11.)
The above Bible verses relay stories of people in biblical times that had true faith. When we look deeper, we see the common thread, one common trait, each of these people possessed. They all had a real relationship with God. They did not just practice religion. They were in an intimate, one-on-one relationship with our Lord. In order to truly have a relationship with God, we must be present with Him daily. Putting this in practical terms so we can understand, let’s think about the relationship you have with your husband, your children or a family member. You may all live under the same roof, but that does not mean you have a relationship with each other. Even if your paths cross on a daily basis, but you do not converse with one another, do you really have a connection? Of course not! A relationship cannot develop without being purposeful in your communication with another person.
Our relationship with God is no different. How can we be close to Him if we don’t ever talk to Him? Simply, we can’t. So, how do we talk to Him? Personally, I talk to God in many ways. Sometimes you can find me on my knees as my heart calls out to Him. Most of the time, though, I’m going about my normal day just “talking.” It’s nothing earth shattering or mystical. I tell Him about my day. I tell Him the sky is pretty. I thank him for the refreshing hike through the mountains I just experienced. My conversation might even consist of a few complaints, “God, I really wish it weren’t raining, because the weather is giving me a headache.” When our son was young, I often told God that I KNEW he had a sense of humor…because he created boys!
I laugh with Him over His creation of dogs, especially dachshunds. I have often told Him I think wiener dogs must have been the last breed He created, because He must have run out of ideas. “Hmmm…what can we do with this one…,” as He stretches that funny looking K9 just like a clown makes shapes out of balloons.
Some of you may be saying, “Ok, Lisa Lou has lost her mind.” My response would be, “Why wouldn’t we talk to God like this?” If He is truly our Father, doesn’t He want to have an intimate, daily, and sometimes simple companionship with us? Our earthly fathers would like nothing more than to spend an enjoyable day with their daughters laughing together about the pig races at the rodeo or savoring a good meal together. Is our heavenly Father any different? No! God created us to have companionship with each other, and He created us to have companionship with Him.
Why do I say all of this? To remind each of us that a relationship with God is just that…a relationship. We are to talk with Him, walk with Him, tell him our joys and our sorrows. We are to seek His advice, and more importantly, be quiet and listen for His answers. I sometimes sit on my couch and say, “God, it was a bad day. Will you just hold me?” I know my husband would do this if I asked, so why wouldn’t God do this? There is a peace that washes over me every time I ask.
To truly have a relationship with God, we must be real. Don’t put on airs and showboat a pious attitude. In fact, in Matthew 6 God specifically tells us not to be pious in our actions by offering up prayers of empty words just to impress others. (Jesus was speaking specifically about the religious leaders of the day, for they were guilty of worshipping religion instead of worshipping God.) Just be yourself. If we want to be happy people of faith, it is imperative that we first have a relationship with our Lord. When we do this, there is an indescribable joy that permeates our soul.
In order to truly get to know someone, we must spend time with them. Do you have a best friend that you never see? That person may always hold a special place in your heart, but you cannot say you truly have a relationship with them if you never interact. That person initially became your best friend, because you spent time together and got to know each other. Let me ask you this. How can you get to know God if you never spend time with Him? If you never get to know Him? You can’t.
He may always hold a special place in your heart, but there will be no intimacy, which means you drift further and further apart. We do not get to know God by being “religious,” and too many Christians get “religion” and “relationship” mixed up. We think by practicing certain rituals or holding onto certain traditions that have been passed down through generations of the church, that we are creating a relationship with God. I know in my church, I have often heard some sweet and well-meaning member say, “But that’s how we have always done it…” In some cases, these traditions and rituals can enhance our relationship with God, but in other cases, they can hinder our relationship and keep us from seeing the truth of God. In biblical times, Jesus would often chastise the Jewish leaders for this very thing. “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” (Mark 7:13) Jesus speaking: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:6-8-emphasis mine)
That’s a pretty bold statement from Jesus. He is saying when we hang onto our traditions and rituals (our human rules) and let them get in the way regarding the truth of God, then we are hypocrites. He says we are “honoring Him with our lips, but our hearts are far away from Him.” We fall victim to worshiping a religion instead of seeking a relationship. We begin to worship the “creation” instead of worshipping the “Creator.” If we want a true relationship with Christ, we need to make sure our traditions and rituals are enhancing that relationship and not obscuring His truth.
The challenge I would give each of us is to begin developing a true relationship, and the best way to do this is to get to know Him. My church has embarked on a one-year “read through the Bible” challenge, but we are doing this by reading the Bible in chronological order. I must admit, there are many times I have set a goal to read through my Bible in its entirety, only to give up somewhere in the middle of Deuteronomy. Reading the Bible chronologically, though, has opened my mind to finally understanding this very simple and beautiful story that God has given us. I found that I was most successful when I switched to the audible format of the chronological Bible. The story has come to life, and I have learned new things about God that I never knew.
In Dr. Cloud’s book The Law of Happiness he gives many statistics of how happy people are filled with faith. I won’t go into all his examples, because the one point I want to make is the most crucial, and it has nothing to do with statistics. In order to be a happy person of faith, you must first have what? FAITH! Faith is not achieved by just going through the motions. To have faith, you must have a true relationship with God.
Throughout this 7-part blog series, I have summarized The Law of Happiness and revealed the 13 traits that all happy people have in common. What it truly boils down to, though, is that each of us must have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Without this, the other 12 traits are meaningless. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Believe, create a true relationship with Him and walk in faith, because this is the source of true happiness!
Together with you,