Philippians 4:11-13New International Version (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Contentment, what is it? Dreams, what are they? I have always been a dreamer, the hope of a dream to come kept me thriving and going. Pursuing something, the hunt, something bigger than myself, something romantic and amazing and awesome. But, life rarely turns out romantic and amazing…or does it?
The last two years Mark and I have been pursuing a house to purchase, but at every turn it seems that God has said no or at least wait, at this point we’re not sure which he’s saying. The last three years we have been waiting patiently while Mark built up his experiences as Web developer, gaining experience in hopes to gradually increase his income, increasing what we are able to do financially, increasing our ability to give out more financially, but again, it is as if God is saying, wait. Waiting on what we are not sure. It is at this point were we can taste the change we want to happen, the increased salary, our own home to paint and do whatever we want to it.
Every fall without fail our family becomes plagued with sickness, often times pneumonia at the least bronchitis, neither pleasant, and often lingers for months afterwards. All these blows are not life threatening, but they feel life threatening, they start to weigh down on us and heavily. Trying to rise up from where we are, only to have the Father say, no not yet.
What I have found is that discontentment comes when I try and push past where we are, when I become so dissatisfied that I allow my circumstances to become who I am, when I want something more than what I have right now. Instead of trusting the Father for his timing and what we have now. What I have found in the midst of all that is crazy going on, is that contentment comes when I cry in surrender, literal tears of frustration, but tears yielding to the Fathers timing, yielding to giving up all my hopes and dreams in return for whatever he will produce out of his love for me. I have discovered the love of the heavenly is not cruel, it is not a love that says give me all you have and I’ll spin a wheel to see what I give you. What the Father gives in return is usually so much more fulfilling than I could ever come up with, so much richer, so much more soul fulfilling than anything I could have dreamed up.
A simple example of this comes from an offering of eggs. The beginning of this month Mark lost his job at Marketing Plus, he was laid off due to reconstructing of the company. This was not good timing and caused us to loose the house we had been pursuing to purchase. As crushing as this was to Mark and I, as frustrating as it is to not know what is coming next, what we realize is that Marketing Plus was only a tool God was using at that time in our lives. God is still in control of our lives and he still loves us. It has allowed Mark to join with a good friend of ours to get a great Web business off the ground. For the first time in years, Mark leaves for work with joy on his face, and returns with excitement. While we wait for business to increase we are living off of a meager income and trying to use our money sparingly and wisely. A few days ago we literally had one egg left in the house, that same day a friend of mine messaged me and let me know her mother in law’s hens were producing in over abundance and would I like a few dozen eggs. Ok, seriously? Not only did God provide us eggs, he provided above and beyond, he provided eggs that I believe to have much more nutritious value than eggs that are in the grocery store. It might seem silly, but these eggs where a love gift to us from God, through an amazing friend.
The story of the eggs may be a simple story, but it is what I have come to know about my God. That he loves me, that while our circumstances appear crazy, God does have a plan. I have also learned that being in a position where we have two choices freak out and have a tantrum (which usually happens a bit in the process) or we can breathe, relax, sit back and trust. So, we sit back and trust, we sit back knowing that when God is ready, his big surprise will be revealed.
Contentment is not found in relationships, money, or anything earthly. Contentment is not in having all the laundry done and the house spic and span. Contentment is not about anything that rust and dust can destroy. It is about sitting back and trusting the one who holds tomorrow in his hands. It is in trusting God with each day and each minute, it is about savoring the minute and second, and not trying to push to tomorrow. It is finding the sweet relationship with Jesus, the one that makes me whole, the one that allows me to see myself as fully loved and fully wanted. If I truly believe I am fully wanted and fully loved, that alone brings contentment, because anything more than that becomes a bonus in life. When life is flooded with unemployment and housing crisis it often brings tears, tears of letting go of control, tears of trying to trust the Father with tomorrow, it is crucial I let the tears come and receive the healing from them. From these tears contentment springs up. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but I must also do as John 15:5 says. I must abide in the vine, because without this abiding relationship I am nothing and I can give nothing. Strength comes from abiding, abiding gives strength, the two together gives contentment.