I have come to believe we were made for one thing. It is the mountain top of our existence. How did I come to this conclusion?
I can approach it spiritually. All of our substitutes for this turn out to be meager crumbs off the table of delight. We chase after so many things in this life which give only a momentary thrill or a secondary happiness.
I can approach it emotionally. All of our emotions want to move here, like iron fillings with a magnet. Even the sad ones. The reason we allow ourselves to feel anger or grief or hurt is the possible restoration of this one emotion.
I can approach it psychologically. It just seems that the human body runs better with this one thing. There is a sense of wholeness and well-being. We think clearer. We love deeper. We act wiser.
But I think the best approach is just a story. Those who know me know that I am intrigued with Lord of the Rings. I have read the books and watched the movies multiple times. The shadow of evil that the ring casts is so dark at times that corruption and despair seem to have the last word. But not quite.
There is one character in the book that did not make it into the movie, Tom Bombadil. He is a mysterious old man that Frodo and his companions meet in the dangerous Old Forest. But he is not dangerous at all. In fact, he appears harmless. He sings nonsense songs wherever he goes. His brightly colored clothes make him look like something out of a preschool book. He is enraptured with his wife, Goldberry. He doesn’t seem to be bothered about the brewing evil in Middle Earth. He seems happy to the point of silliness. But this man is far from silly.
In a pivotal scene in the book, Tom asks for the ring from Frodo. He takes the terrible thing, puts it on his finger, but does not disappear. Instead he flings it in the air and gives it back to Frodo. The ring has no effect on him at all. Here is one creature in Middle Earth who cannot be sucked into its black vortex. Why? Because Tom lives in joy. It is the deepest defense against evil.
Jesus told his disciples that he would put his joy in them. And he gives it to all who come after him. But it is not only a shield against evil. It’s what we were made for.