Look Up and Be Happy!
In 2008 I had the opportunity to visit Alaska and the number one thing on my list was to see Denali, which means The Great One. 1 Rising 20,310 feet, it has a longer climb than Mt. Everest and, with constant ice and snow, fierce winds, and deep crevasses, is very dangerous. 2
Friends had told me of this amazing mountain and its incredible beauty, but also warned that it was not always visible. Most of the year Denali is covered in clouds. I didn’t like the sound of that. Going so far and not being able to see it would not make me happy.
My ninth day in Alaska found me in an old bus riding through the wilderness of Denali National Park. I saw moose, fox, dall sheep, grizzly bears, caribou, and mountains of all colors, shapes and sizes. 3 But not The Great One. That’s what would really make me happy.
The world’s happiness is a temporary view.
After several hours, our guide pointed to a solitary, white peak. “Denali’s in that direction. I hurried off the bus, camera in hand, and though clouds had been building, I could clearly see the mountain. It was larger than those flanking either side, but not what I’d expected. I wasn’t exactly happy.
Then I noticed clouds clearing far above the mountain. Suddenly there was a massive snow-covered peak shining brilliantly in the sun. That was Denali! I had been looking too low at “ordinary” mountains. I had to look up to see what I’d come for…what I could never have imagined. And I was happy.
That got me thinking. What does it take to be happy? The dictionary says “happy” means being satisfied, successful, prosperous, lucky, or joyful…feelings or situations that last only a limited time. Some see happiness as a temporary mental peace; others, a delusion which can never be attained.
Lasting happiness has a different focus.
The “happy” of this world depends on what we can do for ourselves or on luck. When our circumstances change and our desires are not met, we are no longer “happy”. But the Bible speaks of a lasting “happy”. It’s found in the Hebrew word esher, often translated as “blessed”, and goes beyond the moment.
It is the promised blessing from God and found in the one who is forgiven, studies His word, trusts Him, follows His commands, loves others, does what is right, and seeks His will with all his heart. 4 That day in Alaska I was happy, not because I had seen Denali, but because God had shown me Denali.
As we seek and draw closer to Him, we look up and gain a different focus. Our sight is no longer confined to this world and we understand more. We experience life with Him. We are blessed because of Him. Not for a moment, but forever. And we are happy.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) Denali is the Native Alaskan name of Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. (2) When I was in Alaska two men died after reaching the summit. (3) The grizzly bears were at the appropriate distance…two miles away. (4) In order, Psalms 2:12; 1:1; 40:4; 119:1; 41:1; 106:3; 119:2.
Pictures: Banner: Denali by Chuck Graham, 2008. 1st: Moose in Denali by Chuck Graham, 2008. 2nd: Denali At Last by Chuck Graham, 2008. 3rd: Sunset over Denali National Park by Chuck Graham, 2008.