and ramblings on everything in between
Oh contentment, why art thou so good at running away?
It seems that as soon as I lasso contentment and tie him to a tree in the backyard, he chews a hole in his lead and runs away with the friend who just got a new car, or a big promotion, or a fiancé. As I stand on the porch watching him kicking up dust as his shadow fades away, I’m left thinking, “What the heck? Why can’t I have a new car or a big promotion or a fiancé?”
One minute everything is great, the next minute I’m searching for more.
I just finished a Bible study on reading the Bible for life and one of the great takeaways was remembering to read with a He lens instead of a me lens. Meaning, ask what does this passage say about Him instead of how does it apply to me. I would probably me more apt to keep a firm grip on contentment if I looked at my life that way, too. What can He get out of this day instead of what can I get out of this day?
While this intention is noble, it isn’t how my day usually plays out. I’m typically the one wrestling up new ideas and new plans for my life that I hope are the golden ticket to making me happier, instead of really appreciating what I have. I sometimes try to pull one over on God by saying, “Don’t you worry, God. I’ve got this one. This is what I’m going to do and I don’t need to trouble You with getting Your permission. That would just take up too much of Your precious time. I’ll just go ahead and get it done. But I want You to bless it. So, here’s my idea. Bless it. Please.” He’s never amused.
I listened to Sheila Walsh speak a few years ago and she said she starts every day with this quote, “For everything that has passed, thank you. And for everything that is to come, yes.” Wow. I rarely wake up with the commitment to back that up. I’d like to not get slammed into on the freeway, or watch my nephew endure cancer treatments, or lose my apartment to a tornado. I don’t think I’m ready to say yes to things like that. But we never know what we will be expected to say yes to. Isn’t that precisely what contentment is, though? Saying, “Thanks for getting me to this point, and yes to wherever You are leading me next.”
I heard a Christian radio host pointed out today that our situation in life and the things we go through, good or bad, equip us to help someone else who will be dealing with a similar issue in the future. Again, it comes back to the He lens instead of the me lens. If I could see past my own expectations for me and my life, I could accept that I am who and where God needs me to be for a purpose much more brilliant than I could ever live out on my own.
Solomon chased after everything under the sun, only to come up empty. He says over and over again in Ecclesiastes, “It was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind.” More leads to more and more, yet it never adds up to enough. A pasted a quote to my message board sometime last year that has long since been covered by notes and pictures and receipts. I looked at it again today to remind myself why I put it there. The author pointed out all the things she wasn’t in life, but ended with the conclusion that, “What I am already is more than enough.” Contentment. I would rephrase that to say, “Who You are, God, is more than enough.”
Once contentment is back in my sights, what can I do to keep him there for good? I’m not sure of the answer. Perhaps it starts with a prayer, though. Perhaps a blog post. Perhaps a constant reminder that who He is already is more than enough. Either way, I do know it needs to include a lot less of making life about little ole me.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Philippians 4:12 (NIV)