If, when I say Happy Hour, the sound of clinking glasses and bawdy music come to mind, you and I are thinking about two different settings. Merchants of misery attempt to make their brew seem desirable by disguising that interlude – often just after working hours – as a time of happiness. But true happiness doesn’t come with a hangover. True joy doesn’t create guilt.
So, let’s re-frame the term. To do that I need to share with you a secret I learned from an old man. One of my heroes, George Mueller, who lived in the 1800’s. Among other reasons, he was famous for having cared for more than 10,000 orphans rescued from the streets of London, without ever once asking anyone for anything. Years ago Ruthie and I visited five of the magnificent stone buildings he built in Bristol, England. They’re still there, monuments to Mueller’s faith.
Mueller saw the thousands of destitute waifs around him and decided God would be honored if He, God, were asked to provide for them. As you can imagine, the need gave an instant focus to Mueller’s prayer life. For food, for housing, for medical care, for clothing, for caring staff, for the thousand things kids need. And Mueller had no Charitable Trust to rely on. No 501(c)3. No Crowd Sourcing. Instead, he prayed.
We’re talking burden here. Unrelenting. Remember, when things got tight he couldn’t just send them home. Can you imagine what his morning prayer time must have been like? Can you imagine how earnestly he must have prayed, “…Give us this day our daily bread…”?
I love that his journals are filled with vignettes like the time he and 300 children sat down to breakfast, but Mueller knew there was no food in the kitchen. Without a hint of panic he assured the children the Lord would provide. As they finished thanking the Lord for the food there was a knock at the door. It was the local baker who recalled that he hadn’t slept all night. He had a sense the children might be hungry so he arose and baked bread enough for all. A second knock followed. Seems the neighborhood milk delivery wagon had broken a wheel just outside the orphanage and it could not be repaired before the heat of the day would cause the milk to sour. Could the children use some milk…?
But here is the most important lesson I learned. Here are his words, “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, [is] to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD.” (The emphasis is Mueller’s.) Every morning George Mueller had his happy hour. Happiness in the presence of God is a sign of trust. That’s why God prompts Nehemiah to assure us, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (8:10) God is honored when a joyous early morning time with Him becomes the highlight of our day.
By Don Jacobsen