The Pursuit of Happyness

Last night we went to see Chef, a reel performance which details a chef engrossed in work with the rest of his life frayed.  After a confrontation with a food blogger, he is offered assistance by his ex-wife and starts a food truck.  It is about a man who regains the proper perspective in life after starting his own business.  He is restored. 

Sometimes I think that I’ll get restored in a new location or new career.  I’m far more artsy than other lab personnel.  I’m also extremely social.  Most bench chemists would be squints, fearing exposure to sunlight over fluorescent lighting. Other scientists dislike consistent social interaction.  I’m definitely an extrovert; I thrive when speaking with others.  It often feels soul crushing to be working in a field that isn’t suited to my personality but pays our bills. 

I’ve asked myself if I don’t trust God financially.  Is money an idol?  Is the constant desire to be praised by my parents attributing to my employment in the scientific field?  Should I be reckless and travel while writing, working odd jobs here and there to put enough food in my belly and gas in the car?  My parents have stated this would be irresponsible.  We don’t have kids yet, isn’t this the time to throw caution to the wind and experience different cultures and meet new people?  Frank would not allow it.  He’s far too responsible for that.   Perhaps it’s that Frank’s soul is quieted by the calming presence of the Holy Spirit and I’m to busy wrestling God.  I see what I want, what I think should be and spend countless hours debating God when I know his plan is better.  I’m too focused on my desire to travel because my restless soul can’t seem to be stilled to experience the wonder and awe God has awaiting me here.  Christ is teaching me the annoying, but oh so wonderful, characteristic of contentment. 

He doesn’t care where I am.  He’s put me in Jersey.  While I’m here he wants me to do one thing, share the gospel.  I don’t need to be a missionary in the African bush to do that.  He can and does use me here.  It’s when we are uncomfortable and unsure that he can shine through.  I am called to preach the good news wherever I am, especially if it’s in a place where I feel out of tune with the culture. God hasn’t left America, he’s present if I’m willing to seek hard enough. 

The reality is that I won’t ever be satisfied anywhere unless I’m satisfied in him.  How do we get satisfied in him?  We communicate with him through his word and prayer.  We share his love.  We count blessings to remind our wandering hearts of his faithfulness.  We make the most of every opportunity to glorify Christ. Satisfaction comes in wanting Christ here and now.

The pursuit of happiness is not chasing happiness at all.  It’s dying to self, gazing at the cross and the empty tomb, and choosing joy (the peace of Christ) in all circumstances.  We have an everlasting hope independent of happy circumstances.  We can be suffering, but know that Christ is with us through it all.  We can grieve, but we do so differently.  We can think our selves misfit to do a job seemingly contradictory to our skill set, but Christ equips us for his purposes.  It is when we are weak that he is strong.  My inadequacy as a chemist allows Christ to shine through when I submit my work load to him.  I can share the gospel anywhere, not just writ in calligraphy sprawling on white canvases. 

It is when I pursue Christ alone with all my fervor that I might just learn what it means to be content.  When I pursue Christ, a new dwelling, job, or activity won’t become substitutes into an imagined, momentary pleasure perceived as satisfaction.  I’ll be content when I am content with the majesty of God rather than the box I seem to frequently place him in. 

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