Chart life's course with the right guide
HAPPINESS is a serious business. When we look for it, we need to look in a way that gives us a chance of finding it.
If life is a journey, it can be argued that we have just two possible ultimate destinations: Happiness, or Unhappiness. The two places are on opposite sides of the map. Why is it then that we can set off in one direction ... Happiness ... and end up going in completely the opposite direction?
This happens because we are using the wrong map. Let me explain what I mean.
If I am setting off from Plymouth, travelling to Bristol, I expect to pass other places on the way, like Ivybridge and Exeter. I expect to see them.
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If I pass through Saltash or Callington, I know I've gone the wrong way. The problem with the journey to Happiness is that we have been led to believe that some places we pass through are on the way to it when in fact they are not.
Travelling along, we get to the place called Possessions and are momentarily elated, but we soon realise that the feelings we have are fading fast. More Possessions promises a lot, and isn't far away, but we're close enough now to see that it is in the province of Shallowness which is definitely on the way to Unhappiness.
We get to the place called Wealth and it has been a struggle, but actually there is a place called Greater Wealth, which we feel compelled to stay on the road for.
We get to the place called Power and feel we deserve it, as it has cost a lot to get there. But when we arrive, we find it is only a suburb of a bigger place called Loneliness.
We have the wrong map! None of these places lead to Happiness. So, where is the right map? Perhaps there isn't one! What do we do?
If we can't find a map, perhaps the best thing to do is find a guide. Someone to show us the way. And there are guides out there! Which one do we go to?
There is a book that tells about such a guide. The book is the Bible, and the guide is called Jesus. Jesus was well known to say, "Follow Me!"
The thing is, the places he leads people are places like Repentance, Forgiveness and Sacrifice. They are hard places! They don't always lead to Happiness, though they can. It is said though that they are on the way to other good places too. Like Freedom, Love and Peace. Perhaps following this Jesus wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
John Money is Vicar of St Paul's Church, Stonehouse.