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True happiness
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Years ago Ann Landers recorded this sad letter, "Happiness is having parents that love you. Happiness is being as well dressed as anyone in your crowd. Happiness is having your own room. Happiness is getting that telephone call you've been waiting for. Happiness is being popular. Happiness is having parents who don't fight. Happiness is something I don't have. Signed, Fifteen and unhappy."

Everyone is looking for happiness. Most come away from that journey disappointed. Why? The problem with most of our happy times is they are at best fleeting and temporary. The reason for this transient happiness is that most of us base our happiness on things that can be taken away. Someone once observed that the loneliest time in life comes when we discover that the coveted thing that we thought would bring us fulfillment and happiness is obtained only to realize that it was not what we expected.

I am reminded of an interview with one of America's most wealthy men, America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller. The report goes that sometime early in his success with Standard Oil, he was asked by a newspaper reporter, "Mr. Rockefeller, what would it take to make you happy?" To which Rockefeller replied, "Just one more million." A year later, Rockefeller had that million and the reporter returned and asked him if he was happy. Mr. Rockefeller said no, and the reporter asked what it would take to make him happy, to which Rockefeller replied, "Just one more million."

The Bible says, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless" (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).

John Wesley White, associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, tells the story of walking through a hotel lobby where he saw an interview being conducted with the famous actor, Richard Chamberlain. The interview was proceeding well, when Mr. Chamberlain flashed his great smile at the woman conducting it. She paused, looked at him and commented, "You must be the happiest man on earth!" Mr. White reports that the smile suddenly disappeared and Mr. Chamberlain replied, "Me, happy? No, I'm not happy; I'm lonely as hell."

You will never find lasting happiness if you base your happiness on anything that can be taken away. While there is nothing wrong with temporary happiness, we all need a brand of happiness that is inside; a brand of happiness that cannot be taken away.

The Bible says, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" (Psalm 144:15, NKJV). I find it interesting that the very relationship that can bring ultimate happiness is the one most rebel against. The Bible says, "Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them." (Hosea 14:9 NIV).

Most picture religion as the enemy of happiness. To an extent I can understand this; after all much of what passes as Christianity is more akin to the Pharisaical religion of old - a slavish compliance to traditions - than to the heart and spirit of God. Trying to live the Christian life on our own steam is like trying to roll a two-ton boulder up hill; we can exert a lot of energy, but we really won't get anywhere. It is this very self-effort that distorts the Christian message and presents a picture of austerity to a watching world.

True happiness will only be found in a proper relationship with God through Christ. Jesus described his brand of happiness as an artesian well that waters us from within in John 4:13-14. His happiness isn't temporary it's eternal. It isn't external (dependant upon good circumstances) but internal (dependant upon him). It will never let you down but will bring lasting satisfaction. Why not give it a try?