Its posture, the emotions it represents, and its source, have appeared intermittently in my life like a rainbow in the distance. Contentment has eluded me for way too much of my life…and it’s also the main subject matter of what I believe God wants to teach all of us today. Think about the emotional triggers that tend to trip you up, and their relation to a lack of contentment – fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, anger, impatience, I could go on. Many of the sins in my life spring from a lack of contentment in who God is, who I am, what He provides, His timing, can you relate? I will say that I have experienced many episodes of contentment throughout my life. Those memories are like jewels in my mind…special times, days, seasons of life, when all was well in my world. For me, these happy places in time are always, without fail, connected to healthy relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Relationship is the key word. The kind of relationship that follows me throughout every journey, thought, action, and word of my life. When I’m truly “walking with God” through my days – seeking to see as He sees, respond as if I were His hands, forgive offenses as if Jesus was living through me, delight in things that are pure and lovely, consume the delights of the world with prudence & thankfulness, utilize my belongings as if they were not mine to keep, give energy and care to others when I’d rather not, love my wife & kids sacrificially, do all I can to live like Jesus would if He were me – those are the times when I am totally, completely content. Not because I’m seeking it, but because the God of my life keeps His promises; and He gives it in abundance when we surrender to Him unbridled access into every nook & cranny of our lives. Contentment is the byproduct of walking hand in hand with the Father through life.
I want this kind of contentment…more than I want success, recognition, money, sex, food, a trim body, relevance, and all the other things we Americans seem to idolize. We idolize stupid things, and they distract us from the life that is truly life! I’m singling out “contentment in the Lord” as the pursuit for this year of my journey through life. Like everyone else, I have patterns in my psyche that produce dysfunction & pain with those I love, creating chasms where I would rather see bridges. Most of the time, I’m my own worst enemy. As I continue to learn from scripture, and grow in living it out, I see that God is not really concerned with managing our behavior…He’s into what’s deeper; the identities He’s created in each of us, the lies and counterfeits we get ourselves ensnared in, and the rescues and rewards He plans for us to inherit from Him…and there’s only one way to get it.
Jesus, God in flesh, opened the way for us to bypass the appeasement of human religion so that we can have an actual, real, intimate relationship with our Father. Only through Him are the obstacles of our sin wiped clean so that we have unhindered access to the Living Water we thirst for. What makes me so sad is how we seem to easily give lip-service to this amazing truth, distancing ourselves from Him through rebellion or religion, and cutting ourselves off from the royal throne-room access that offers us more than we could ever imagine or ask for. Thankfully, He’s an expert in route redirections, and His mercies never fail. What a good, good Father!
Here are some of the passages I’ve been meditating on these past several weeks of the new year. Blessings to you in your journey.
”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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
”Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9)