Written by: Nico Bougas
Article source: JOY! Magazine

A young English secretary decided to commit suicide. She climbed onto a high ledge 80 metres in the air. A minister was summoned to talk to her. For an hour Canon Milford used all of his persuasive powers to try and talk the young girl out of taking her life. He tried to tell her that life was worth living. But at the end of that hour she jumped. What would you have done if you had been in that pastor’s place? What would you have drawn from your experience, from your being to say to her, “this is what makes life worth living, this is what life is all about. What would you have said to her?

Is your life worth living?
Do you have a sense of fulfilment? Do you know the secret of happiness? A young girl wrote to a newspaper agony column, “Happiness is being popular, happiness is having your own room, happiness is getting that phone call you have been waiting for, happiness is having parents that don’t fight, happiness is something that I don’t have.” If you had to start writing out your definition how would you describe happiness? Do you know what it is to be really happy and satisfied and fulfilled?

Is happiness freedom?
Some people think that happiness is being free to do as you please. To live a life with no restrictions. I remember when I was at school I was very frustrated – I had nothing against the school (it was just the principle of the thing!). But I thought it would be so good to be free of all these restrictions – just to be an adult and just do as I pleased. But as a grew up I discovered that being an adult carried so much responsibility, and that being a kid wasn’t so bad after all. 

Real freedom is not simply doing what you want
It is doing what you ought to do. For some people freedom is slavery. For example the alcoholic is free to drink, but he is not free not to drink. There are habitual criminals who are free to commit crime, but are not free not to commit crime. There are drug addicts who are free to do drugs, but not free to stay away from drugs. And so we could go on about gamblers, wife beaters, womanisers, and baby bashers. They are all free to do what they like, but not free not to do so. They are not really free. They don’t know real freedom and they don’t really have a choice.

The story of the kite
There was once a kite that was rather sad and envious. He watched the birds soar high in the sky. And he thought to himself, “I wish I could be like that – I wish I could be free to move in any direction and go where I want to go and not be so restricted by this string.” One day his master took him out into the fields. It was a particularly gusty day and he quickly rose into the sky. It was great and he tugged and pulled on the string as his master tried to pull him back in. Suddenly the string snapped and he drifted high into the air. At first he thought it was wonderful to be free, it gave him a great sense of exhilaration. But as the hours wore on, the wind buffeted him this way and that. He first lost his tail and started plunging downwards until he eventually landed up against a telephone pole all entwined with its wires. Battered and tattered and bruised and no longer able to fly. It had freedom – but its freedom had proved its undoing.

What does the Bible say?
The Bible says, “If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8.32. It also says that, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” – John 8.36. Real freedom comes from knowing Him and letting Him get control of your life.

Is happiness being rich?
Millions of people think that the secret of happiness lies in the accumulation of wealth. So we find thousands going to buy lottery tickets, gambling, horse racing, etc. They tell us that horse racing is a sport, in fact the sport of kings – but how much interest do you think there would be in horse racing if there was no money involved? There is a headlong pursuit of riches. People spend millions on lotteries and gambling, workers are always demanding higher wages, entrepreneurs are always trying to squeeze out extra profits. But does wealth really bring happiness?

Do riches really satisfy?
Keith Nicholson, a 40 pound per week miner, won the equivalent of R6 million in the British soccer pools. His wife, then a movie usherette, announced that she was going to “spend, spend, and spend”. But look what happened to the money and the Nicholsons. They bought a luxurious home with all modern conveniences and the latest audio visual equipment, two luxury cars, plus a whole lot of other things. They hosted parties almost every night. In four years they managed to spend almost all the money. “We had oodles of money,” reported Mrs Nicholson, “and we set the place alight”. But we lost our real friends, the people we had known in the old days, and whom we really wanted to see never came along.” Every day anonymous letters came that turned the Nicholson’s lives into a nightmare. Some begged for money. Others expressed hatred and envy. Then Nicholson was killed in a crash in the luxury car he had bought. From the jackpot money a substantial amount went to the government in death taxes. The remainder was invested, half in trust for the three children and the balance to give Mrs Nicholson a R250 a week income.

Gaining the world but losing their souls
Another winner, Alan Bainbridge, also hit the jackpot. Like the Nicholsons, Bainbridge and his wife moved up in living and spending. One day after 33 years of marriage. Brainbridge rode off in his limousine and never returned. He left a note that said only, “I’m sorry.” Four years after he won several million on the football pools, John Nader, a second-hand car dealer, told a London newspaper that his wife had divorced him, he had been jailed for a month, and he owed his bank R500 000. “I was happy before that win,” he said. “I curse the day I won that money.” As Andrew Carnegie put it, “Millionaires seldom smile.” And as another millionaire John Jacob Astor said, “I am the most miserable man in the world.” Many have reached for riches and found it to be but an empty bubble and no real recipe for happiness. Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” – Mark 8.36. 

Is happiness being famous?
In our ignorance many have thought that the route to fulfilment comes in fame. So they aspire to becoming a celebrity and a household name in their community. Really? The famous author and historian, H.G. Wells, said, “I am 65 and am lonely and have never found real happiness.” Prince von Bismarck is reported to have said, “Throughout my entire life I have not had 24 hours of real happiness.” And what about all those glittering stars of stage and screen from a past generation? Judy Garland said at the peak of her career, “If I am a star then why am I so lonely?” Marilyn Monroe ended her tempestuous career by taking her own life. Rita Hayworth said she cried every day of her life. Ava Gardner said, “Being a star is the loneliest life…acting bores me.” And Marlon Brando said that the only thing that his rise to fame and riches had done was to increase the bank accounts of his psychiatrist. Beverley Hills, the famous suburb of Los Angeles where many of the stars have their homes, has the distinction of having more psychiatrists per square mile than any other community in the world.

Is happiness being religious?
What is your life? What is the secret of happiness? Where does one find satisfaction? For many people the answer is religion. Some time ago the husband of a neighbour of ours died. He was a young man in his thirties. His widow said to my wife. “From now on I am going to go to church regularly every Sunday.” But being religious will never bring you satisfaction and being religious will never get you to Heaven. Being religious will never make your life right with God. Some of the harshest things that Jesus had to say were directed against the religious people of His day. Read His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23, “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, whited sepulchres, painted grave stones, bunch of snakes…” Being religious will never save you. The Bible says that all our righteousness are as filthy rags… (Isa 64:6). It says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy has He saved us…” – Titus 3.5. “For by grace are you saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God and not of works lest anyone should boast.” – Ephes 2:8.

You can’t get to Heaven without Jesus!
The only way you will find real peace. The only way you will get right with God is through Jesus Christ. A person can get to Heaven without riches, without fame, without position, without education, without religion – but he can never get to Heaven without Christ. And it isn’t enough to know about Christ. You have to actively put your faith and trust in Christ. I may go down to Cape Town International airport and see the big British Airways airline all set to fly to London. I may believe that it can fly all the way to London and that it can carry several hundred passengers. I may believe that it is absolutely safe, I may believe that it is trustworthy, I may be sure it can fly all the way to London. But unless I actually get on that plane I will never get to London. You may know all about Christ. You may be convinced that He is the Saviour of the world; you may affirm your faith in Him. But until you actually commit yourself to Him you don’t actively believe and you are not a child of God. You show faith in your bank by putting your money in it. You show faith in your doctor by following the prescription that he gives you. You show faith in the airplane by stepping aboard and flying in it. You demonstrate faith in Christ by trusting Him with your life and receiving Him unconditionally as your Saviour

Are you ready to follow Jesus?
Today God wants you to get right with Him. He invites you to join His forever family. To emphasise this, God has a word that He uses over and over again in the Bible. It is the word, “Come”. Listen to these words from the Scriptures: “Come everyone who is thirsty, come without money and without price… come to Me all you that labour and are heavy laden… come for all things are now ready… and let whoever is thirsty come…and the Spirit and the bride say come… and whoever comes to me I will not reject.” Will you come?

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