We all live for something. We start life fully committed to pleasing ourselves. As we grow, that usually doesn’t change much. Our focus can become more dispersed among areas that are important to us, such as relationships, careers, or goals. But the bottom line is almost always a desire to please ourselves. The quest for happiness is a universal journey.
However, we were not created to live for ourselves. We were designed by God, in His image, for His pleasure (Genesis 1:27; Colossians 1:16). French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
Throughout history, humanity has attempted to fill that vacuum with everything except God: religion, philosophy, human relationships, or material gain. Nothing satisfies, as evidenced by the universal desperation, greed, and general hopelessness that characterizes our history. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). In Isaiah 45:5, God says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God." The Bible is the story of God’s relentless pursuit of human beings.
When we come to the place of recognizing life is not about ourselves, we are ready to stop running from God and allow Him to take over. The only way any of us can have a relationship with a holy God is to admit that we are sinners, turn away from that sin, and accept the sacrifice that Jesus made to pay for sin. We connect with God through prayer. We pray in faith, believing that God hears us and will answer. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." We confess our sin, thank Jesus for making a way for us to be forgiven, and invite Him to take control of our lives.
Coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ means we transfer ownership of our lives to God. We make Him the Boss, the Lord, of our lives. We trade our old self-worshiping hearts for the perfection of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). Romans12:1 gives a visual description of what takes place: "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice." Picture an altar dedicated to the only true God. Then imagine crawling onto it, lying down, and saying, "Here I am, God. I’m a sinner, but you love me anyway. Thank you for dying for me and rising from the dead so my sin could be forgiven. Cleanse me, forgive me, and make me your child. Take me. All of me. I want to live for you from now on."
When we offer ourselves to God, He sends His Holy Spirit to live within our spirits (1 John 4:13; Acts 5:32; Romans 8:16). Life is no longer about doing whatever we want. We belong to Jesus, and our bodies are the Spirit’s holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
From the moment we give our lives to God, the Holy Spirit gives us the power and desire to live for God. He changes our "want to." As we submit ourselves daily to Him, pray, read the Bible, worship, and fellowship with other Christians, we grow in our faith and in our understanding of how to please God (2 Peter 3:18).
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Often, the path God wants for us leads a different direction from the one we or our friends would choose. It’s the choice between the broad way and the narrow way (Matthew 7:13). Jesus knows the purpose for which He created us. Discovering that purpose and living it is the secret to real happiness. Following Jesus is the only way we ever find it.