Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot. It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me. I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard. It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.
After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next. He was serving at a small church at the time. We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there. We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will. And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry. Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time. I had to repent on that one. And I did. But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.
Back to our friends. He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living. He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more. We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment. I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.
But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest. I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.
Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament. In Philippians 4:11, he says: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
We were not in need. We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea. Our situation was good. And yet, I was not content. Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8
I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above. When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord. I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly. And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.
Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself. But I did it! And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.
Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment. 2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul is such an amazing example of being content. He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path. I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)
Life happens! We can’t avoid it. Not the bad. And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good. Times are tough. I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t. But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep. Here’s the thing: God loves us and calls us to Himself. He asks us to follow Him in obedience. Sometimes He asks us to do hard things. He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.
Joy to You!