Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 16:1-2, NRSV)
Something Augustine of Hippo wrote caught my eye yesterday. I was reading in his book about understanding and teaching the Scriptures. In it, he wrote about the key to our happiness being that we place our hope for happiness in the correct place. Our chief mistake in life is that we seek happiness in the things of this world rather than in God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This caught my attention.
I’ve read this before. I’ve heard it before. I’ve even preached and taught this before, but like so many of the really important truths, I had lost sight of it. As we are all prone to do, I had let the world capture my gaze and forgotten what the Psalms and the rest of Scripture speaks of so frequently. I have no good apart from God.
This is more than the simple theological truth that God is the source of all good things. As important as that statement is — and as worthy as it is of deep reflection, this is not what caught my attention.
What matters is not simply whether God is the source of good but whether God is the good for which our entire life aims. Is our life organized around drawing closer to God, finding our joy in God, and finding peace only in God?
For the vast majority of us, the answer is “no.”
Yes, we hope to know the blessing of God. Yes, we turn to God when we fall ill or those we love are in the hospital. Yes, we hope to go to heaven and take pleasure in the life of the church.
But all these fall short of the point.
The purpose of prayer is not a transaction where we get something from God. The purpose of worship is not to feel the warm glow of candlelight on Christmas Eve. The point of all that we do is God. We pray, we worship, we sing, we do the good works, so we might be drawn into the enjoyment of God’s fellowship. To stop short of that is to miss the mark entirely.
In what do you place your hope for happiness? Is it God? Is it something else?