I like to set short-term goals when I am on a jog. Sometimes it is only as far as the next tree, depending on how close my lungs are to bursting. This morning I was feeling pretty good, so I set my sights on a light in a window at the end of the street. As I got closer I could see that it wasn't a light at all but only the reflection of a streetlight. It was an illusion.
I thought about how often things in life are like that. I'll feel happy when I get X amount of money. I'll be content if I could lose X amount of weight. If only my husband would act more like that other guy... If only my kids got better grades...As we get closer to these goals, we find that they are not going to result in instant bliss. Nothing will "make you happy" if you are not already content on the inside. Happy is a short term emotional high. Not that it is a bad thing, but happy doesn't last. Joy lasts. Contentment regardless of circumstance lasts. And the only place to go to get the Joy back in your heart is to the real Light. Don't settle for the illusion of what the world tells you is the source of all joy.
I have learned, through trial and error, that when I focus on what seems to make everyone else "happy", life falls short. When I seek to fill my life with the things God wants in it, worship of Him, service to Him, patience and love towards others, I find Joy. I can't explain it, but it's true. It is truly the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7. A promise from an Everlasting God. No smoke and mirrors here, baby.