Over and over we hear that living a life of faith is hard work. We’ve all heard the sermons that remind us that living in faith requires service, commitment, and sacrifice. We all know that living in faith requires the resolve to take the high road even when it may be easier and more popular to be petty or dishonest or reactionary. Faithful living requires discipline and devotion. We know that there is suffering involved, hard choices to make and that it is often tempting to abandon living and working in faith because sometimes it just feels too hard, too complicated, too costly.
We’re all heard that sentiment and I would agree that it is a truthful way of looking at living in faith. It does require a true commitment, discipline, and hard work. However, I also understand that living a life of faith is living a life that promises great happiness. It is my understanding that the life of faith is meant to be a life of peace and joy, real joy. It is joy that cannot come from possessions or fame or fortune. It is a joy that doesn’t even come from our relationships and certainly not our circumstances. Rather, the joy that comes in living a life of faith is a joy that comes from knowing there is meaning and purpose in life, joy that celebrates being free of worldly distractions and the “happiness traps” we can so easily fall into. It is a joy that comes from a peace in knowing that “all things shall be well,” and everything is as it needs to be. The life of faith is discussed as laying down one’s life for one’s friends, the ultimate sacrifice, but it is also discussed as a great wedding banquet, a great celebration of love.
I don’t always feel happy. I often find myself struggling to see the good in things, the hope for the future, the meaning in my work. But there have been times when I have known the sweetest moments of life. There have been times, perfect and lovely times, when I knew I was in the absolute center of true joy. I have experienced grace and love at such depths that I know I would choose this life of faith over and over and over again every time. There are days when I sense such a rightness with things, such love in a gathering of other faithful folks, such clear and perfect hope that it seems as if I have crossed over to the next world; and on those days I think I couldn’t handle any more goodness.
I read a story once about a young boy who loved the television shows, Mister Rogers and Captain Kangaroo. These two men were his heroes. One day he learned that Mister Rogers would be visiting the Captain Kangaroo show and the boy was too excited to stand the wait. Every day he would ask his mother how long before the show was to air, watching as she marked off the days on the calendar. Finally, the great event was to happen. The boy and his entire family gathered around the television and there it was, Mister Roger walked on the stage and joined Captain Kangaroo. The boy sat for a few minutes and then in a moment of great surprise to his parents, got up, and walked out of the room. His father followed him out into the hallway. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “I thought this was what you’ve been waiting for.” The boy shook his head. “It’s too good,” he replied softly, “it’s just too good.”
A life in faith is a life of hard work and sacrifice and dedication. It requires discipline and commitment. And yet, a life of faith is also a life when you find yourself knowing such joy, such contentment, you shake your head and may even have to leave the room because you can’t believe you could feel this happy. Like a boy seeing his heroes, you hear yourself saying, “this life, this wondrous and lovely life, it’s just too good.” And that’s living in faith.