There is No Other Way {When Trusting and Obeying isn’t Happy}

…for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”

So goes the song I sang every Sunday as a child.

Happy??? I don’t know that I would use happy as a description of trusting and obeying. Trusting and obeying has made me feel scared, illogical, humble, misunderstood, and weird. Rarely happy, in the Disneyland sense.

Happy is what I feel eating ice cream. Shoe shopping. Listening to good music and drinking smooth wine. I find it in laughing with a friend. Having someone listen to my story. Running away with a really great bargain. Discovering the flowering recovery of a nearly dead plant.

I have not found it in obeying. Not once do I recall a giggly response when Jesus has led me to admit I was wrong and ask for forgiveness. He has asked me to obey by being silent in the face of accusation. He has asked to me to obey by selfless serving. He has asked me to obey by speaking a tough and most un-welcomed word. Not once do I ever recall feeling head-over-heels, delightfully happy about doing what I was told.

Neither has trusting been a happy experience. I freak out a little inside when Jesus responds to the first disciples questions with “come and see!” because I know he’s going to say the same thing to me. No details. No promises of perfect endings. If he has to ask for me to trust him, I already know this isn’t going to be happy. It’s going to be scary.right.up.to.the.last.terrifying.out-of-control.minute.

I wonder why we paint discipleship in the hues of happiness. Is following Jesus really about our happiness? We turn the purpose of discipleship in on ourselves and then wonder why we’re so disappointed when Jesus asks us to follow him in selflessness, servanthood, and suffering; all the necessary ways he has us follow him so we don’t forget it was never about us.

Indeed there is no other way, that is trusting and obeying. But don’t drink the cheapened Sunday School kool-aid of it being about happiness; it’s about being in Jesus. Abiding in Jesus is something better, richer, and much more satisfying than any fleeting moment of happiness could ever give us.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” John 15:11. 

How do you find Jesus making your joy full?

2 thoughts on “There is No Other Way {When Trusting and Obeying isn’t Happy}

  1. I sang this song as a kid as well. It’s so easy to ‘obey’ when obedience gives me what I want. I thought of this very song as I developed the idea for Built with Grace. I’m still learning how to live the irony that my joy becomes full as I let go of the very things I thought would bring me joy! Thanks for the reminder Brenda.

  2. I think our society has brainwashed us that the pursuit of happiness is the highest good in life. I also think that God is far less concerned with our happiness than He is with our Christ-likeness. This light and momentary suffering that we find so reprehensible is nothing compared to the amazing work of pruning, shaping and transforming He is doing in our recalcitrant hearts. If we could just get off the happy-wagon, we would be a lot less disappointed. And therefore, happier. 🙂

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