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“Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on…God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing” (Mere Christianity, p. 50).

I have an absolutely AMAZING online English class with Potter’s School – we’re studying five books by C.S. Lewis. I love that it combines writing, grammar, college prep, AND theology – all in one class :).

Anyway, my favorite part of the assignment is the essay we get to write, on the quote of our choice in the book we’re studying. This was a wee bit harder in Surprised By Joy, but Mere Christianity has had my attention since the first page. I think I’m over-using my hilighter – like, there are more sentences covered in blue than there are NOT covered in blue.

The quote above made my essay this week. I can’t say the essay was well-written (plus because it’s an ESSAY, who wants to read it for fun?) so I’m not too sure about sharing it.

But here’s my last paragraph. You don’t have too much of a solid foundation to judge it, cuz you don’t have it in context :).

Quite often, I pursue fulfillment of my need for joy and find the object of my pursuit far from God. I try to “…invent some sort of happiness for [myself] outside God, apart from God” (49). God gives us wonderful gifts, yet so easily I take them and obsess over the gift rather than the One who gives beauty to His gifts. Reading Lewis’s writing blessed me immensely; I again remembered that true joy apart from God is impossible. As temptations to find false happiness arise, I remember with Nehemiah, “…The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).

Feel free to critique.

Basically, I loved the one part of the quote – God can’t give us happiness and peace apart from Himself. There aren’t any such things. It’s easy, isn’t it? To see how God fills a hole in your life and adore the stuff He filled the hole with…not the craftsman who filled the hole. On a more humanly applicable note, if you give a gift to someone, you want them to be grateful to you – not to go nuts over what you gave them and forget you.

So the final wrapper/thesis restatement/whatever you want to call it: nothing in this world can fully satisfy us. There is no such thing as true happiness or true peace in this world, because God IS true happiness and peace. {or, more theology-sounding, true JOY and peace}. 

Also – I wanted to share a short life update that links C.S. Lewis to the title :). I spent 3 years as a dancer with Praise His Name with Dancing; I can easily say I spent much time obsessing over dance. God healed so much in me through classes – worship time, bonding with my best friend and her family, my first evangelistic outreach. Delighting in God’s gifts, rather than Him, became scarily normal – especially my last half year. I think God “whacked” me back into reality when my best friend shared One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp with me. One of her quotes was quite similar to Lewis’s, and even then it impacted me so much I danced with her book onstage in our June production. {No worries – it fit perfectly with the lyrics in our song ;).}

After crazy-fun dance chaos for 1-2 months, I spent my summer as an intern at Urban Vision. Summer 2011 was an immensely life-changing summer – the Lord again filled holes in my life, primarily ones I thought I would loose due to no dancing. {Surprisingly, He filled these holes WITHOUT giving me dance classes – of any kind!} He gave me a sweet family, so many chances to be an encouragement, brothers {namely two big brothers who are incredible godly leaders – I’ve ALWAYS wanted an older brother ;)}, sisters, and mentors. I love them dearly.

I can’t tell you all that I learned that summer. There’s a lot. I do know that I spent a lot of time obsessing with gifts, rather than the Giver. {Actually, at the beginning of the summer, I gave a devotional to the teen leadership team and some UV staff on that very topic!} But God caught that and guided me through the summer – I can’t say I did perfectly, but I do know that looking back, I can see His hand working situations for my good. Like, reminding me that people aren’t perfect and are guaranteed to fail at some point… that helped with idolization issues ;). He is my strength…He alone can satisfy.

Plus, I was so blessed to participate in lots of evangelism. {If you’ve ever taken the “Pathways to Global Understanding” course, I’ll be more specific – evangelism AND missions.} I don’t think I caught it at first, but the continual cycle of learning a skill, then using it for God’s glory was incredible. Much better than 7 dance outreaches every year. I probably wouldn’t tell you God gave me a passion for evangelism, yet I know that while I don’t feel it, He’s instilled in me somewhere this need to actually use my gifts to bless somebody and reflect Him.

Long story short, I hit the end of the summer not missing dance. At all. Missing my interns, and the rest of the fam – a TON. Missing evangelism – IMMENSELY. The decision to give up dance for more time at Urban Vision seemed obvious, but was pretty scary. I remember one of the last nights during our week-long stay at UV (for our teen-led VBS) talking with my big sister Maggie. We talked about a lot, but I remember telling her, “I’m scared that if I give up dance, I’ll be bored. If I ever had a bad day at dance, I could go to Urban Vision and find acceptance and fulfillment. If UV went bad for some REALLY random reason, I had dance the next day.”

Maggie’s just so awesome she prayed over that for about a month for me. When we had a much-needed intern accountability time in late August, I mentioned I had officially given up dance {?!} and she got soo excited. We both did, really. It was sisters pumped to see God meet needs in new and deeper ways…to commit slightly larger areas of our lives to Him and trust Him to meet us there.

This year, I’m committing to find my strength, my identity, in God – not in the people I work with, or the ministry I do. Because there’s no true joy or happiness or peace apart from Him. 

{Plus – who else can say He’s loved you with everlasting love, before you were born, even when you make Him sad? Hey. He’s the perfect example of Agape – the perfect challenge to agape living.} 

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