A couple of weeks ago, I was asked an odd question by someone who doesn't know me very well. He asked me, flat out, "Are you happy with your life, and where you are right now?"
And I thought about it for a while.
Eventually I smiled, and answered truthfully, "Yes, yes I am."
He gave me this funny look, and said, "Well how did you manage that?" and I replied, "Well, a lot of prayer."
"No, really- I pray a lot too, but how did you get there?!"
"Um, really, a lot of prayer."
It was the beginning of a Priceless conversation.
But you know what, I was honest with him. I really am very happy and content with my life right now, and I know that is a direct result of praying and taking care of my relationship with Christ.
That is the key to happiness and fulfillment- that long- term contentment people crave.
Let me explain what I mean.
Many people think that you have to work to get to heaven, but this is not the case. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, lest anyone should boast." There are MANY other verses that back this up, but this one states my point very well. Rather than works, we acknowledge that Christ came to earth in the form of a man, that he died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. He took the punishment for all of our sins, past and present, and all we have to do to secure that our future will be in heaven with Him is to acknowledge what He did, and invite Him into our hearts.
Something amazing happens when we do that.
There are three parts to man: a physical body; a soul which encompasses our mind, emotions, and will; and then we have this third part of us called a Spirit. When we invite Christ in, our Spirit is where His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) comes in and takes residence. Here's a diagram I drew to illustrate. In olive green are the Greek words for these found in the New Testament so you don't think I'm just making this up.
Ok, so Christ takes up residence in our Spirits. Now, there are 2 parts to being a Christian. The first part we already covered- asking Christ into our lives. That's the easy part. The second, however, is much more difficult and is a continuous process.
The second part of being a Christian is allowing Christ to change us from the inside out. If we let Him, He changes us into different people that exhibit His characteristics (this is what is meant when people talk about becoming "Christ- like"). It works like this:
He changes our mind, emotions, and will from the inside out. It's amazing, but it's a choice. We have to let Him- He won't do it without our permission and active involvement. This is what the Christian Life is all about- this process of changing our very nature into His; of allowing Him to come in and clean up. Out of this stems our works, our habits, our everything- purpose in life, figuring out our calling, how to serve those in need- everything stems from this process. In my life, this is not a result of my "working and trying harder," but rather a result of listening to God's voice nudging me into a new way of being; of letting Him take over every area of my life.
This is what my life is about. I've surrendered to this process. And you know what? IT IS AWESOME. Painful, full of tons of learning experiences, but nevertheless awesome. And it is the sole reason that my life is so good- I really can't take much credit for it on my own. This is why I answered the way I answered that question, The Question of Questions: "Are you happy with your life, and where you're at?"
Thank God, yes! :)
Just some thoughts from my heart (and years and years of study and personal experience),