Someone wrote me this morning to tell me she was happy. I was happy for her. Her happiness, she said, came from God. This, too, made me happy. I told her that while I was satisfied in Christ, I wasn’t sure I could drum up the word “happiness” to describe my feelings throughout the day. I do have moments of happiness (when I’m writing, or recording audio messages, or eating raisins and salted nuts, or hearing about someone else’s happiness), but I can’t honestly call “happiness” my default setting.
I used to be able to call it that back before
October 1, 1993,
when I began studying and teaching about God full-time. You’d think this would
have led to complete happiness. Yeah, me too. I see we are both rather
naive that way. I am less naive now, and also less happy.
This is not to say my satisfaction and joy in Christ and in God haven’t inched me, since 1979, incrementally and continually toward heaven. I am so anticipating my place among the celestials that I’m starting to smell the coffee and taste the wine. I’m bracing myself for the sweet riddance of gravity, which has irritated me ever since watching the first American spacewalk in 1965.
|This ain't the third heaven.|
Tell me something about happiness. Is it that we are looking for something we don’t have? I’m seriously asking. Or is it just a deep-seated dissatisfaction with the nature of this eon, and of knowing the joy that awaits us in heaven with God, Christ, and all the saints? I feel sorry for Paul, who got a glimpse into the third heaven, then got shoved unceremoniously back into some crappy, third-world city. Maybe life was better for him after that, but I doubt it. Is it better to have seen the third heaven and returned, than never to have seen it at all? I think witnessing such wonders can only make it harder to floss one’s teeth and change one’s socks. For most of us, humiliation is all we know; ignorance can be bliss.
I have a theory that Paul saw the body of Christ completed; he saw us all glorified; he actually saw it, much as John saw real things yet future. I misspoke there. John didn’t see the future, he went there. Paul saw something real yet foreign to his earth-bound time and mind. I believe the vision came and went in a blink or two—seconds, probably less. Still mortal, how could Paul have borne more? He returned to his third-world mayhem convinced he was God.
Where do I get that? Seeing himself glorified so glorified him that his non-Christ, still-mortal mind mishandled it, as only mortal minds can. Clunking back to earth, Paul wrote: “Wherefore, lest I should be lifted up by the transcendence of the revelations, there was given to me a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he may be buffeting me, lest I may be lifted up” (2 Corinthians 2:7). The only other time Paul uses the Greek word translated “lifted up” (hupairo), is 2 Thessalonians 2:4, when the man of lawlessness is “opposing and lifting himself up (hupairo) over everyone termed a god or an object of veneration, so that he is seated in the temple of God, demonstrating that he himself is God.”
My big beef with God is that He doesn’t have skin on. My big beef with Jesus is that He hasn’t been here in 2,000 years. I am tactile. I think my happiness has to do with fellowship, touching skin, and getting into another person’s mind. It has to do with hugs, Bibles, handshakes, eye contact; I would love to kiss someone on the lips and smell her neck. I had that with Rebecca, but that rug got pulled out and I couldn’t relocate the rug because it grew legs and ran to a foreign country. So things are lonely—in that way. (I won’t be buying a dog or cat for it. No. There is the eye contact, yes, and some of the neck stuff, but not the getting into the mind.) I’ve been told that lonely is dangerous. Why? “People make bad decisions from that place,” it has been said. I think the people telling me this may be overcautious. I’ve never been that way, but I’m giving these people the benefit of the doubt and withholding it (the benefit of the doubt) from myself.
My standard answer to people who question my one dissatisfaction with the Deity is: “God gave us other people containing His same spirit, and I praise Him continually that He gave these people epidermises.” We humans are meant to touch and have this reciprocated. If this need is not satisfactorily and legitimately met, the soul, reaching for it, comes up with air. This so agitates the soul that it informs other regions of the mishap, and soon the disposition—in spite of Christ—becomes something we may vaguely call “unhappiness.”
I’m not ruling out a lack of minerals.
As we grow older, we accumulate more and more losses. We lose our parents, our lovers, our extended families, our siblings—some of us even lose our children. Life can never be the same after such calamities. The body forms a scar, but the brain merely forms pockets, pooling the pain. The bad thing about pockets is, you can always reach in and pull stuff out. As losses mount, so do bad memories. These memories, in turn, mount you onto a wall-mount of cynicism until you feel and may even look like a deer (head only) whose last memory was an oncoming car. This, in turn, can possibly make you even more unhappy. (I'm not ruling out a change of fortune.) Such unhappiness can occur—miraculously—in spite of a growing realization of God.
I think a lot of people are suffering calamitously. Let me know if you are; I want to know. My latest loss has driven me harder and deeper into this miraculous organism known as the body of Christ, and I think the water is fine.