I find myself always wanting more, and never being content. I want to have the same outlook as the apostle Paul (content with little or much), but being honest, I don’t think I am. I want to be content, but I don’t know how.
When Flyboy proposed, I was marrying an Air Force pilot with a lucrative future ahead of him. I came from an upper middle class family, and admittedly, was pretty spoiled. We separated from the Air Force and set about finding an airline job (with even bigger paychecks), but a downturn in the economy turned the promise of a position into the largest airline pilot lay-off ever. While trying to figure out our next move, we settled into a little house near family.
We quickly made some new friends and a young mom invited me and my babies over for lunch. What I found was a young woman living in poverty but grateful for everything she had. We chatted at the table while we peeled potatoes for soup. She mixed up some homemade cornbread and put it in the oven. There was no trying to impress, just laughter and simple food around a simple table. This was profound to me. She served me soup made of potatoes, water, and a little milk and was not embarrassed, but rather was filled with gratitude. I began to pray for that same spirit and I learned that gratitude is the first step to true contentment.
After a time, we answered the call of God to ministry and headed to seminary. Now we had our own chance to live in poverty! Slowly, I began to realize that we always had what we needed and God was ever faithful. Once when we were out of money, an envelope with ten $20 bills showed up in the mailbox. When we were out of food, bags of groceries appeared on the front porch. God provided for our every need. There is something adventurous and freeing about living solely by faith.
Learning to live on what we had was the next step in understanding contentment. And interestingly enough, I’ve personally found it’s easier to be content with little than with much. There is no end to the things we can buy or do, or places we can go. But when that’s not an option, we are forced to deal with it and be content or miserable – it’s our choice.
We have to start somewhere, making steps toward the changes we want to achieve. We get to a point, as you have, realizing there is more to life than possessions, and you’ve caught yourself red-handed in the never ending pursuit for more. Are you ready to start working toward loosening the hold on your belongings? This is a work of prayer and setting your heart to follow the path he is preparing for you. Trust him in it.
What does this mean to you? First, contentment is never found in what we possess, but always in the One to whom we belong. Second, contentment really is a choice. We can be miserable because we want what we can’t have, or we can be thankful for salvation, spiritual gifts, the promise of heaven, and so much more.
If you can view your possessions as belonging to God and on loan to you, you are on the path to contentment. If you can release the things that complicate your life and hold you back, you are on the path to contentment. If you can trust Christ for all your needs, you are on the path to contentment. I’m praying for you today.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out of it. — I Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)