I’m learning lots of lessons lately and have been thinking about them, trying to process them, mulling over them so they will sink in and take root in my heart. Here are two that God’s been bringing me through this week:
Lesson #1: Contentment. True contentment in God. How many times have I said or sung that God is all I need? Many, many times. When it comes down to possibly never buying a house or having some material things that before seemed like “givens” in life, however, does my heart change its tune? Can I hold onto that claim when my paradigm is shifting? Just because I’ve always thought something doesn’t necessarily make it true or necessary, I’m learning. It’s been time for me to put my money where my mouth is in regard to relying on God and being content with just Him and what He provides. We may not be able to buy a house for a year or so, or several years due to the situation we find ourselves in. Does that matter? Really? We have a good, safe, clean place to live and have more than we need. I keep thinking of people around the world who are content with nothing because that’s all they’ve ever known. Being born into a culture like ours is almost a handicap because we then think we need the things we see around us – that they are a “given” in life. Our wants and needs blur together until we can’t distinguish between the two, or don’t want to! I want to be able to say whole-heartedly, like Paul, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13)
Lesson #2: Focus. Intentional, relentless focus on Jesus. Satan is so subtle in his attacks. He knows my weaknesses and always urges me to focus on myself, to feel sorry for myself, to dwell on emotions and become afraid. I still find myself falling prey to that tactic and it’s immensely frustrating. I want to recognize it sooner and evade him. I heard a message this week that really encouraged me. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us how to have God’s inexplainable peace: Rejoice! Don’t worry. Pray about what you need. Thank God for everything, then the peace will come. It doesn’t end there, however. The next passage is the key: Fix your mind on what is true, right, pure, honorable, lovely, admirable, excellent. Even in fixing my mind on what is true, I have a choice. It may be true that we are in a desperate financial situation at my church and the budget is “scrunchy” at home, it may be true that a loved one is facing cancer, it may be true that a close friend just lost their job. It is also true, however, that God is still on the throne. It is true that He keeps His promises and loves me (and those I’m concerned for). It is true that all things work together for good for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) It is true that God’s will WILL happen, his plans will succeed one way or another. It is true that He’s always with me and that he listens when I pray.
If I focus on those truths, the other sad, gloomy truths pale in comparison. Hope rises. Fear ebbs away. Like washing a dirty window and wiping it with a squeegee, my view becomes crystal clear.
These two lessons can go hand in hand. Purposefully keeping my eyes and heart on Jesus and all that is good and true creates contentment and satisfaction in me, because if I’m intently looking at Christ, choosing to rejoice and dwell on good, joyful truth, I’m not listening to the lies of the enemy or the misconceptions of the materialistic, self-centered culture around me. The writer of Hebrews beautifully lays out the strategy for all of us choosing the path of Christ, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
Rejoice! Trust! Look at Jesus. Choose to see the good in all that’s true in your life right now. Enjoy God’s peace. Be truly content and satisfied. There is no other way.