Mississippi News

Lynn Jones: Finding genuine happiness 

By Lynn Jones

A Peanuts cartoon strip showed Charlie Brown and Linus standing at a brick fence, their elbows propped on top of the fence. Charlie Brown asked Linus, ““What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up?” Linus responded, “When I grow up, I’d like to be outrageously happy.” 

Lynn Jones

Wouldn’t we all? We pursue many things in life, but at the base of most of the pursuits is the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, pursuing happiness and actually catching up with it are two different things. A standard ending to many of the old fairy tales is, “They lived happily ever after.” But how do we live that way in our day?

Jesus told three different stories in Luke 15 that all ended this way. First, He told the story of the lost sheep. A man had 100 sheep, but in the evening a head count revealed that one of the sheep was lost. The man immediately left the 99 sheep and began searching for the lost sheep. When he found it, he “joyfully” put it on his shoulders and went home.  Then he did what we often do when something good happens to us. He called his friends and neighbors together and said, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” Then Jesus applied the story this way. He said, “In the same way there will be rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

The next story told of a woman who had 10 coins and lost one of them. She immediately searched for the lost coin  until she found it. Then she invited her neighbors to rejoice with her. Jesus said it again. “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The final story is about a lost boy. The prodigal son left home and went into the far country. The father did not go looking for him because you can’t handle lost boys the way you handle a lost sheep or a lost coin. The father had to wait with an aching heart until the boy came to himself and then came home. When he did, the father said, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate.”

Jesus was the master teacher. He knew that repetition was a key to learning so he told three stories that all made the same point. They all began with the heartbreak of lostness, and all ended with the joy of reunion and restoration. The thread of joy ties all three together.  

Are you looking for joy today?  Do you hunger for genuine happiness? If so, maybe we can all “catch on” to Jesus’ telling us how to receive that joy. According to all three of these stories, the secret to genuine happiness is found in coming home to Christ yourself or helping someone else come home to Him! 

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: kljones45@yahoo.com.

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