This week the Book Stop blog is featuring book excerpts from chapter four of Kay Warren's new book Choose Joy. For background on the book, see the article Kay, Warren, Saddleback Church Co-founder, Helps Christians to 'Choose Joy'.
Kay Warren, Choose Joy, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2012
Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.
Consider this: What if the things you think will give you joy really won't? What if you're looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places, but you don't believe it?
The Bible tells us that joy is available to all of us—and yet joy eludes many. In desperation, we try anything and everything we think might hold out the possibility of quenching the thirst for joy. We look to people. We look to the place where we live or where we want to live. We look to our possessions, our position, and our personality.
These things may give you happiness for a time, but eventually they will fail you, because as we've already said, happiness isn't enough. It never is. What we've counted on to establish joy in our lives isn't sufficient.
Imagine this scene with me. You're walking in the desert in the searing heat; you've been walking in circles for days, and you're pretty sure you're lost. Your thirst is overwhelming because you have no water, and if you don't find some very quickly, you will die. Then you see in the distance something that looks like a lemonade stand. It has a flashing neon sign that advertises "Living Water Available Here!" God is behind the stand, holding out a glass of clear, ice-cold water to you. You stumble up to the stand, barely able to walk, and you say to him, "Thanks, God! I see that lovely glass of water in your hand, and I really appreciate your offer. But if you don't mind, I'm going to grab the shovel I see lying on the ground and I'm going to dig my own cistern." So you pick up the shovel and begin to dig. And with a lot of effort, you manage to create a cistern that holds water. But very soon it develops cracks and runs dry, and you are thirsty again. All the while God waits patiently, holding out the cool, refreshing liquid that promises relief for your desperate thirst.
Does that scenario ring any bells for you? That could be the story of my search for joy: thirsty, longing for relief, ignoring God's invitation, choosing to search desperately on my own, coming up dry.
Of course, we're not the first people to look for joy in all the wrong places. Centuries ago, the Israelites forgot that God was the source of their redemption. They turned to the false gods the surrounding nations worshiped rather than to the God who had led them out of Egypt.