Where’s your “happy place”..?

Recently, I’ve been reflecting a lot on Jesus’s longing for us to “abide” in Him from John 15 and pondering what that looks like and feels like in our often-frenetic lives. The other day I was sitting down with the family in the evening to watch a film when, from an old TV comedy show, I heard someone say, “It’s all too much, I’m going to my happy place!” I think for many in the crazy days in which we live, that seems like a perfectly lovely idea.

Wishful daydreaming is, of course, no new thing but the expression of going to your “happy place” has become today’s in-phrase of distraction and escapism. It’s a mental mechanism to enable people to avoid the unpleasant or uncomfortable and consists of the things or places that make us cheerful or calm.

When I was a little boy, my happy place was sitting with my grandad playing cards or playing in my secret den up behind the shed looking out over the garden. As I grew up, my happy place became long bike rides in the beautiful Kent rolling fields and valleys. Later still, it became wrestling with bits of cars, covered in oil, out in the garage.

As I got older, though, I have come to realise that the most important, and very best, happy place of all is the one deep down within my own soul. The psalmist expresses it brilliantly in Psalm 42:7 where he says, “Deep calls out to deep” – where the deep things of God are calling out to and trying to plumb the deep things of mankind. This is the remarkable truth that the Spirit of God is longing to reach deep into the heart of His children, bypassing all that which would attempt to prevent the fellowship that God so keenly longs to have with us.

It was while I was 17, on a camp in the depths of Norfolk, that I first truly found that best happy place: it was there that I came to realise just how much God loved me and had given up for me on the cross. It was the first time I experienced with real clarity the depths of God’s sacrificial love, not simply in my head, but this time deep in my heart and soul.

Jesus says, “Whoever abides in me and I in them, they will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

This Easter, we again focus on the culmination of Christ’s mission here on Earth – to yield himself up to the cruelty and pain of the cross. As He carried on His shoulders the pain and brokenness of our world with its sin and shame, Jesus had you and me in mind – longing for us to experience the reality of His great forgiveness, mercy and love for us deep in our hearts and souls:

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me.

Have a wonderful and happy Easter, love from Tim, Sarah, Ellie, Sam and Jo

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