contentment.

(originally posted February 2011)

the sermon today really spoke to my heart. it was on contentment, an issue i struggle with in some areas, particularly in being content with having another year of seminary left, since i’m weary of the college life and ready to find a place we can call home. b. says its not bad to Want something, to long for it, but when longing for the future causes you to be discontent with the present, then its wrong, and i’m guilty of being too impatient. i struggle with it most when comparing our lives to other couples we know–i feel sometimes like we’re so behind everyone else, still in school and all–but i know that God has different plans for everyone, different timing, and i am keeping that in mind and going to do my best to more than be content, to love this last year of seminary.

as for the sermon, here’s the highlights, from my notes:

  • contentment has nothing to do with the events going on in your life, good or bad
    • is not being self-satisfied–you still change what God wants you to change
    • is not apathy or lack of feeling
  • contentment gives you the ability to look past the present situation and see it how God sees it
  • do not listen to those who tell you that you need more
  • God means for you to have what you already have; when you learn to appreciate that, you can realize how rich you truly are
  • road blocks for contentment: coveting, unbelief, negativity, self-pity
  • cultivate contentment: count your blessings, focus your attention on spiritual matters, keep busy (an idle mind wanders), guard against greed

Scripture:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die, Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 4:11-13)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (I Timothy 6:6-8)

from afar

Bryan reminds me that in the story of the prodigal son, the father saw the son coming from afar, which means the father was watching for him, likely every day, scanning the horizon, hoping for a glimpse of the son he loved, hoping this son who said he would never come back would return to him. As soon as he saw him turned towards home, returning, he ran to him, despite the pig-sty smell of the son and the wasteful excess of the son and the prideful hate of the son. So I know that I too can wait for a loved one to return, “be of courage, and wait” on the Lord to act, to turn him toward home. Even when it seems hopeless.

community

It is easy to get out of community with church. b and I used to lead a small group at our house, but with a second colicky baby + the meeting being on Friday nights, it became too much and we called it quits. so we went almost a year without a group.

I noticed, a year out of any set small group that it was easier to be discontent with the church, easier to take offense at the church, less desire to attend, to take the trouble. And during that same year my side of the family began to be ripped apart by the selfish actions of a certain member of the family. Sin can destroy so much so quickly.

We got to a point, this December, where we decided that even if it meant only me and the girls going to a group (there aren’t any groups that meet when b is off work), we must must must get back into community with our church. we hadn’t realized how much support we were getting from community until it was sporadic, whenever-we-can-get-together kind of support.

we miss sitting around the dinner table weekly telling other brothers and sisters in Christ what is going on with us, what spiritual battles we’re fighting. we miss all the kids running around playing and fighting and tugging each others hair and we miss those nights our table was full and then some, chairs pulled up all around.

I think church community is a little (imperfect, maybe burnt on the edges) taste of heaven really. Because my personality shouldn’t like it at All—an introvert entertaining a dozen people in her house weekly, and loving it? eating dinner with a big group of people, some of whom I’ve never met before? no. that is not me. But its me in Christ.

One thing I learned in 2014 is that it matters very little what interests, life experience, stage of life you have in common, if you have Christ in common, then you are family.

If it were up to me, I would’ve kept waiting to stumble upon all the artsy writer types (who are also young moms and maybe work a little outside the home) to find my community in church (guess how many of those are in my church? that is right: one!). I’m thankful that b. led our household in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with—into the crowd. Into fellowship with Athletes and Popular Girls and, good gracious, even Sciencey Types.

So as the family I was born into suffers, crumbles even, i don’t need to feel that I’m left without a family—the one I was reborn into is forever. And now we’re reaching back out to it—pulling up our chairs to the table.