Recently, the lightning bugs have started to come out at my house. I love this time of year and love even more to watch the little hands of my kids trying to catch the surprisingly elusive and luminescent bugs. The look of pure joy when they gently wrap their hands around something so amazing and mysterious is one that is difficult to beat. It’s the look of happiness and joy in its purest form.
John Wesley spoke of religion in these terms: “true religion, or a heart right towards God and [humanity], implies happiness, as well as holiness. For it is not only righteousness, but also “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Have you ever though of religion in this way? It is true that this is what we are all striving for; a form of happiness, joy, and peace in our lives. Yet, for some of us this has been harder to find.
Much like my son Luke in catching lightning bugs, these days, it feels like I am squinting into the darkness, waiting for a flicker of light to direct my steps. Often when I arrive at where I thought I had seen the source of that light the darkness remains. Yet, when I pause for just a second to see if the light that I had was near, it never fails that the light was not too far off, only requiring a few more steps and for me to simply stretch out my hand.
It’s often that I invoke personal past victories with God to sustain me through periods of darkness and doubt. These memories are the lights I have captured over my life that sustain my joy when all seems hopeless, or I just can’t seem to see a flicker of light anywhere in my path. Happiness, joy, and peace are the best ways I could describe these memories to you; feeling the presence of God as I held James in my arms for the first time, marrying the love of my life, and the list goes on. Prayer is an act and a practice of looking for the lights in our lives and in our world, and as Christians we have to do this. As St. Augustine so beautifully said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We won’t find the happiness, joy, and peace we’re looking for without turning to the one who made us for that very thing.