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. –Philippians 4:12-13
I had one thing on my list yesterday afternoon. I had a precious 5 hours set aside to relax and be content.
And I just couldn’t do it.
There were too many big pressing issues taking up space in my brain. Not enough professions of faith at my church this year. The future of my denomination. The constant creep of scary political times. The busy week ahead.
Not only did I feel plagued by these issues and more, I started feeling like it would be irresponsible to push them aside. There are, for me, some pretty serious issues on that list. Big problems. Disturbances in the Force. Valid reasons for feeling discontent.
Maybe it was wrong for me to want to be content in the first place. To take a big sigh and forget my problems for a while. Maybe that was a mistake.
Maybe my role as a disciple is to carry my cross, shoulder my burdens, keeping my eyes on the prize of the Kingdom come. As long as things are broken in this world, my job is to be discontent. Or even a malcontent–fighting the man, even if that turns out to be me.
So, no bingeing on Netflix. No Burger King Impossible Burger. No Lazy Boy Recliner. And NO peace of mind.
That is the dangerous path my brain was headed down. So many Christians have chosen to live that way . I didn’t fully rest. I couldn’t relax. I went to bed exhausted.
Today, I read the scripture above, from Philippians, where Paul talks about being content. He has figured out the secret–so much so that he can feel at peace when life is producing either a bounty or a scarcity.
The key, it seems, is what gives you contentment. Paul finds peace in good times and bad. There is no earthly item on his list that can sway him–because his strength comes from God. His ongoing connection with God is the most real thing in his life, and holding tightly to that allows him to be content, even when things on earth feel dicey.
I happen to know several times where Paul declares himself to be distressed, so it’s not like he’s unaffected by the problems he’s up against. It must be that the hope and joy of a life in God simply matters more.
I wish I could go back and live those 5 hours of downtime over again. I would have leaned on God more. I would have rested in the sure and certain knowledge that God wants more for me than to fret without ceasing. Perhaps praying without ceasing would have framed things better.
That kind of bingeing…
is even better than Netflix.
Have a great week,
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