"Happy Boy is on, hon, if you want to watch him," my husband will call out to me now and then. We are rarely in the same room of the house because I hole up in the bedroom, in the evenings, reading or writing or watching a tv show, and he is usually downstairs in the rec room...recreating. Or maybe working on the plumbing. Or dozing on the couch after a hard day's labor.
Who is "Happy Boy"? Okay. Prepare yourselves. If I'm "on the war path" and daring to go where none have gone before, I might as well talk about a controversial figure: Joel Osteen. That's who my husband and I affectionately call Happy Boy. There's no doubt about it: the guy smiles a lot and seems genuinely happy.
Maybe that's one reason so many Christians are irked by him. Now I know that his exegesis and theological reasoning seem weak, at least when he's preaching on T.V. I read his first book, and am now starting on his second book, Become a Better You. The guy is commonly assaulted for a glitzy theological stance that says God wants you to be happy, healthy, and prosperous.
My review of Joel Osteen's book? When I watch his TV sermons, they are a bit skimpy in dealing with the big troubles of life, the deep suffering, the catastrophes that beset many. On TV, he comes across as a happy school boy- naive, irritatingly happy, and simplistic. Yet when I read his books, I see he is a sane man, of sound mind. I see that he is, at least, aware of life's deep problems, the common circular reasoning of many, psychological issues of self sabotage, boundaries,and issues of abuse.
One thing he seems to say over and over, whether on TV or in his books, is that God wants more for you. Think higher and better than what you do. Honestly? He sounds like an overly confident, ivy leaguer who has lived with wealth and prestige all his life.
But here's why I think he comes across this way: He had an earthly father who really poured into him a sense of being loved, called, and destined for greatness. If we're going to attack the guy, attack him for being lavished with love by his parents. Attack him for him having an upbringing where his parents set out in active faith, and took steps of faith, believing for healing, growth, a multiplication of God's resources and light in this world..
Joel Osteen hasn't always been a Happy Boy. He was first a quiet, shy boy, it sounds like.
"I never dreamed that I'd be doing what I am today, encouraging people around the world. For seventeen years, my father tried to get me to speak at our home church, but I had no desire. I'm naturally quiet and reserved and would much prefer working behind the scenes." (p.10)
His Dad must have been loving and encouraging all those 17 years of trying to prod him into speaking- because Joel doesn't seem to resent his Dad for his attempts at getting him into the pulpit. Joel's Dad kept encouraging him, prodding him, and saw no real results for all those years Joel stayed out of the limelight. It wasn't until Joel's Dad died that Joel stepped into the pulpit.
No matter what you think of Happy Boy and his messages, he had a loving father who provoked him, prodded him onward, spoke to him of all that God wanted to do in his life. Let's look at that fact- and then ask if we too wouldn't love to have a father like that! Why, if we had a father like that, we, too, might even be...dare I say the word....happy?! Overjoyed?!
Well, we DO have a Father who speaks life over us, lavishes us with good plans- plans not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future. (Jer 29:11) He is a Father to the fatherless, husband to the widow, Giver of Hope to those whose hope has died. Giver of Life eternal. He's the best Father in the World.
Whether people call you happy boy or happy girl is not the issue. Maybe for you, the new name would be Woman of Peace - if you once walked in anxiety or fear. Or your new name could be Mountain Climber, if you once dared to do nothing but sleep and eat junk food. Or maybe your new name could be Standing Tall- if you once lived a life where people walked all over you, and you thought of yourself as nothing but a doormat.
Whether it's a new Name or a new resolve, we could all use a little upgrading, I think.
Today, I think I will just choose to be happy. Not because all is so abundantly perfect in my life. But because my Heavenly Father IS.