If You’re Happy and You Know It!

“The quality of your life depends largely on what you are depending on for the quality of your life.” Joseph Wheat


Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 8:10-11


It would not surprise anyone who regularly reads Mississippi Christian Living that I love to collect quotes. This one by my pastor, Joseph Wheat, happened to have been a profound and original statement he made during a recent sermon. It is the great paradox of contemporary American life that in all of our abundance, there is a pervasive discontentment that fuels everything unbecoming in human character.


I challenge you to Google topics like “How to be Happy,” “How to Find Purpose,” or “How to Find Peace.” Most of the advice focuses on me, me, me having whatever I want if you know what I mean. I even found an interesting book called Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium. It’s not a new book. It’s been around a while, and given the fact that it was written by the digital editor of NPR, I am pretty certain there aren’t any suggestions about searching the Bible for solutions to what ails us. But I found these words to be insightful, if not prescriptive:


“…when the social, spiritual, and political turmoil that followed the sixties collided with the technological and media revolution at the turn of the century, something inside us hit overload. American culture no longer reflects our own values. As a result, we are now morally and existentially tired, disoriented, anchorless, and defensive. We hate us and we wonder why.”


If we have lost our moorings, it could help explain some of the destructive effects this secular culture is having on individuals, families, and communities everywhere. In our frantic search for purpose, fulfillment, and success (however you define it), many of us (yours truly included) have occasionally made unsavory decisions, often with regrettable consequences.


Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French theologian said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Truer words were never spoken, but oh how we butt our heads against many a wall trying to prove we will find peace and fulfillment in something or someone else.


I have to say my interview with Charlie Saums for this month’s cover story was not like any other in the past 16 years. He is the only private investigator I know, so I am not at all sure how typical he is. Before Charlie and Jancsi, and Charles and I, joined the same Sunday school class, my only familiarity with private investigators was through television drama. Charlie would make an entertaining series, just in case anyone wants to know.


But there is a lot of depth to the man. I thought it would be much easier than it was to tell his story. The nature of his business involves some of the darker aspects of life in a fallen world. I kept coming back to the observation that it is clearly his relationship with the Lord that keeps him steady. Given the recent scandals with the FBI on the national stage, it was encouraging to hear Charlie talk about law enforcement as a high calling and one that requires strict integrity but a healthy view of grace, too.


As we celebrate Independence Day on July 4, Sherye Green shares her special prayer for America in “The Middle Ages.” If you are old school like I am, you cherish the vision of our founding fathers and recognize how blessed we have been to call ourselves Americans. Enjoy Sherye’s reflections and take time to add your own prayer to a God who has indeed shed His grace on us all.


Happy July!