Last Friday Jane and I went for a walk in the Chilterns with our dog Flo. It was a glorious sunny day and after walking for a couple of miles we were getting a bit thirsty. At that point we happened to stumble unexpectedly on a delightful country pub. As I sat on the bench outside the front of the pub with a pint of beer in the sunshine, I thought to myself: heaven must be like this. I was sitting there for some while with a broad smile on my face, helpless to form any other expression; overcome with happiness. And then I noticed that all the people who walked past me smiled back at me. Even the car drivers, as they passed, turned and looked at me and smiled. Happiness it seems is deeply infectious.
Paul tells us in Galatians 5 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). I am so glad that it is not against the law to be happy! Of course revelling in life’s simple pleasures (like a country walk and a pint of beer in the sunshine) is a passing enchantment. But being caught up in the purposes of God – that is a real, immutable, transcendent joy. If you want a happy life, nothing comes close to serving God. When I think of all the setbacks, and challenges, and terrifying amounts of money, and difficulties of the Go and Grow project, I consider it pure joy (cf. James 1:2). Well… at least some of the time.