Our generation is consumed with the idea of happiness. And if we're not happy, then the question is 'what can we do to become happy?'
We are faced with endless opportunities and options, yet they have left us paralysed; filled with confusion, anxiety, fear and depression. Each of us is convinced that we must make the 'right choice,' concerning everything from what brand of cereal to buy to what spouse to marry to what career to pursue.
Before the Industrial Revolution, people's lives were basically decided for them. They didn't get to choose where they lived, what brand of food they bought or what career they would pursue. Life was more about survival than leisure.
'The grass is always greener on the other side' and in our minds, the other side has more options and opportunities. Is the key to happiness really a limitless amount of options and opportunities or at some point do those opportunities actually become our downfall?
Too much freedom brings slavery
Our generation believes that freedom and choice go hand in hand, but it seems as though we are the most enslaved generation yet, with suicide and depression rates increasing, we are slaves to ourselves. We have put ourselves at the centre of the universe and are led to believe that others are here to serve us and help make us happy.
Our lives are consumed with decisions based on happiness and pleasure for ourselves, yet we seem so unhappy. So where is the disconnect?
Jesus' perspective was very different from ours. Matthew chapter 10, verse 39, says "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Jesus is saying that if you want to find life and freedom, come follow me and make me Lord of your life; put me at the centre of the universe instead of you and see what happens.
Are we willing to take that jump for freedom?
We are trying to find freedom without the Lordship of Jesus and we are failing. We want Jesus as a Saviour, but we are unwilling to accept him as Lord of our lives and allow him to dictate our choices and decisions. We are independent and rebellious and the last thing we want is someone telling us what to, where to live or how to spend our time.
One of the most freeing revelations is realising that life is not about you. It's about God and his Kingdom and others. If my life is about expanding the knowledge of God and his Kingdom instead of my own, no longer is my happiness much of a concern and my perspective shifts from temporary to eternal. Happiness is no longer something I need to live to protect, but joy comes naturally from serving the Lord and expanding his Kingdom.
Happiness found in simplicity
The freest I have ever felt was on a mission trip to Indonesia. We were staying in a village playing with kids and they asked me and another girl on the team to go swimming, so we agreed. The kids took us by the hand and paraded us through the village singing foreign worship songs. I soon realised they were leading us to swim in the cattle drinking hole full of mud and who knows what else. It was too late to turn back, so we joined them and jumped in, despite being uncomfortable.
As I relaxed and enjoyed the moment, I experienced the joy of the Lord more than ever in my life. I looked around at my situation and how I wouldn't have chosen any of these things for myself, who I was with, what I was doing, where I was living, yet that was one of the happiest moments of my life, where I chose nothing, but was completely surrendered to the Lord and loving the people he had put in my path.
Jesus came to free us, not enslave us. We are an enslaved people needing a Saviour and Lord; we need to be set free, not by more opportunities, but by the Lord Jesus himself.
Laurinda is a missionary at Youth with a Mission in Brisbane where she leads a discipleship program for young adults. On her day off you can find her hiking up a mountain or swinging in a hammock.
Laurinda Rapp's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/laurinda-rapp.html