A church member responded to my invitation: What one question would you ask of God? He wants to know: God, how do I attain happiness?
I remember something my professor of French at the University of Louisville said on the subject. Happiness was something I was after. He said if one sets out to attain happiness, then one will fail to find it. That wise counsel, however, did not dissuade me from seeking.
Eventually, I discovered what my professor had found a long time earlier: happiness is a consequence, not the goal.
What is the goal?
As a Christian, I make my goal Christ. I learn from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His Word to me--which I hear in Holy Scriptures, sometimes in poetry and other literature, in prayer, in silence, in the words of others--and to which I respond in obedience.
My goal in life is faithfulness to Christ, with God's help. Nothing else.
When I follow Christ as fully as I can here, then I'm happy. Not that I'm always happy. There are days when I feel down, frustrated, troubled--all those human things.
But I keep trying to be faithful to Christ, and quietly and often surprisingly, He shows me glimpses of happiness. I not only see them, but also feel them. This is heaven.
In the gospels, a rich young man asks Jesus how he can attain everlasting life, which is far better than earlthly happiness. Jesus says, Go and sell all you have and come follow me. And, as the story goes, the young man leaves downcast. He's rich and wants to stay that way.
For this rich young man, something is more important to him than God, who is revealed in Jesus; it's his wealth; he's rich materially, but poor spiritually. And not until he puts God first will he know eternal life. I like to think he does just that.
Real happiness-call it eternal life-comes only through God and my relationship with Him. When I learn from Jesus Christ, living for Him and loving others in His name, I'm most fully alive. And as happy as I can be in this world.
And I know it's Christ who makes me that way.