I meet regularly with a couple of Christian brothers for the purpose discipleship in the context of friendship. We will, at certain times, read a book together. I highly recommend both the regular meeting and the reading of books in community; both are profitable for growth in godliness.
We are currently reading a book from the series called The Swans Are Not Silent. Here is a 2 minute video of the author, John Piper, describing the series and why he wrote them:
We are reading his most recent addition to the series–of which there are 6 books–entitled A Camaraderie of Confidence. The book contains biographical insight into the lives of three well-known contemporary citizens in England and connected through their ministries: Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor.
It is from the chapter on George Muller that I draw this reflection. George Muller’s brief bio appears on Wikipedia as such,
George Müller (born Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller, 27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898), a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans.” He is a fascinating man whose life story is well worth studying.
In Piper’s discussion of Muller, he raises Muller’s personal satisfaction in the sovereign goodness of God. Piper notes that Muller believed a soul that was deeply satisfied in God was a soul that was freed to sacrifice, to risk, and to love others. Piper shares the following quotation describing this happiness of God in Muller’s own words:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.
What a thought for followers of Jesus; to be happy in the Lord. It seems to me that our joy and gladness in God is not something we think about or pursue enough. Piper offers reasons why Muller thought this was the “most important point to be attended.” For one, Muller believed that our happiness and satisfaction in our God brought glory to the One in whom we seek and find satisfaction.
Muller also contended, in Piper’s words, that “happiness in God is the only source of durable and God-honoring self-denial and sacrifice and love.”
After pursuing Muller’s thoughts on the import of finding our happiness in God, Piper traces Muller’s means of attaining this happiness. For Muller, finding our happiness in god comes down to one thing; God’s Word. Again, consider Piper’s quoting Muller:
But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.
On the advice of Muller, and by extension Piper, let me encourage you to seek your happiness in the Lord. Pursue and ever deepening satisfaction and gladness in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Seek your joy in God through his revelation of himself in his Word; it is here where you will see Jesus most clearly. And in seeing him, you will be satisfied.