Be Happy. God Commands It!
Psalm 100:1-2 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”
This last weekend I’m pretty sure that I ran a marathon. Just to be clear in case anyone was under this impression, I am NOT a runner. The marathon I speak of was the High School Spring Retreat in which we played football on the beach, spikeball, volleyball, dodgeball, basketball, frisbee, soccer, and night games, all the while staying up until ungodly hours with high school students who never run out of energy! For reference, we went to bed at almost 2:00 AM on Monday morning, and there were a couple of students who decided to get up and watch the sunrise at 5 AM that same morning. Outrageous.
The purpose of this “marathon” was to get our students away from all of the distraction and noise for a few short days to build relational capital with them so that we’d be able to speak into their lives and call them to a focus on God. For context, our students right now are facing higher anxiety and depression rates than almost any other generation. They feel the pressure to succeed and figure out life direction earlier than any generation beforehand. In short, they are struggling with hope. To top it off, many of our students have expressed that they view God not as personal and loving, but as a distant ruler who seems to place more restrictions and rules on their already stressful lives.
That’s why this weekend we focused on trying to reconcile our happiness, and the glory of God. Can those two things go together? The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, the way that God is most glorified, is when we are most satisfied in Him. As Piper explained, “If God refuses to give you what will satisfy your soul most deeply, He doesn’t love you. And what will satisfy your soul most deeply? Answer: Himself.”
In many ways this weekend, we saw students perspectives shift. Students responded to sessions saying things like, “The beauty of God’s creation reminds me that I was created for God,” and “God wants me to have relationship with Him because that’s what’s actually best for me, that’s what will make me most happy.”
Ultimately, why would myself and 9 other youth leaders and adults take 25 high school students to the beach for the weekend knowing that we’d come back feeling like we were each individually hit by a truck? For one main reason: to help our students see and experience that the pursuit of God is not a command to dutiful drudgery. The pursuit of God is a command to chase after the fullest expression of joy we could ever long for.
I’m now going to go take a nap.
In love, and in Christ,