A Goat and Contentment

Goat

A few years ago I decided to make a change from making New Year’s resolutions to making the year about focusing on a word or phrase.  Last year my word was “best”. I focused on being and giving the best in any and every situation.   Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I failed, but I always tried to give everything my best.  I decided my focus for 2015 was going to be contentment.  And it all started with a goat and a cell phone.

A few months ago I was having a fit about my cell phone not working properly.  Truthfully I was mad because I wasn’t able to get the phone I wanted. The phone worked just fine, the problem was me, not the phone.   In my fit of frustration my Pastors words from the previous Sunday came floating by in my mind.   He and some others had been on a recent mission trip to Haiti and had provided some goats to help families have a source of income.  The Haitians were grateful and happy about getting a goat to help their families.  A goat! And there I stood in my home complaining about a working cell phone.

It started me thinking about contentment. Why couldn’t I be content with the phone I had?  Why did I want something more when what I had was much more than people in Haiti, or even in the United States has?  Was I really letting material things define me? Was I discontent?  Oh boy.  The longer I spent pondering those questions the more I didn’t like the answers.

I am reluctant to admit it but yes, I do let material things define me to some degree.  I just feel better about myself when a label is attached to my clothes or handbag.  I have a lot of nice things, but it never seems to be enough. I frequently find myself wanting more, something different, something new.  The cold reality set in long before the last minute of 2014 counted down.  I am not content.

This spills over into other areas of my life.  Contentment isn’t confined to just material things, but relationships too.  People aren’t perfect, and relationships are hard and messy. It is easy to become discontent.    And discontentment leads to a lack of peace, about me, my relationships and life in general.   That isn’t how I want to live.

2015 is the year I learn to be content.    The last message I heard in 2014 was on Psalms 23. A well known biblical passage, but I was given a fresh perspective.    An underlying theme of that passage is contentment.   With the Lord as my shepherd I will never lack anything.   I will be led to quiet, peaceful, places of rest and refreshment.  I will be guided along the right paths for me. When I walk thru dark valleys the Lord will walk with me and comfort me.  When facing my enemies a table will be prepared for me.   I will be protected.   Goodness and mercy will follow me every single day of my life.  My cup will overflow.   The secret to the kind of contentment found in Psalms 23 is me.  The Lord is my shepherd as long as I make the choice to follow him.  Those things are mine when I choose to recognize them and be content in them.  My cup overflows when I am content with the things I have and my relationships.   Contentment is a choice and it is time I start choosing it.

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January 15, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Grace and Grits

           I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the doors of “Grace and Grits”. I certainly had never been closer to a homeless person than handing them a dollar or bottle of water out of my car window. I was nervous, and maybe a tad bit scared. Serving the homeless was well out of my zone of comfort, but serving isn’t about being comfortable.

       I admit it. I was a bit judgmental before last night.   In my selfish little middle class mind a homeless person really didn’t have an identity beyond that of “homeless”. I mean surely they were drug addicted alcoholic dead beats whose bad choices led to them being homeless. Oh how the mighty fell last night.

Pastor Jan reminded us before serving that these people were people just like ourselves. They have a name too, and an identity beyond that of “homeless”.   These were people whom deserved my respect as much as any stranger I come across in a day. They deserved my smiles, and my kindness. More than that, they deserved the love of Christ.   And last night the love of Christ was the hands and feet of those serving.   Christ love was literally in my hands and the steps of my feet.   I was humbled.

       I saw a lot that made my heart break. I saw mommies walking in with their hungry babies and kids. I saw young women, old women, younger men, and old men.   Homelessness and hunger affects young and old. Here is the odd thing. These people who had nothing smiled back at me. Me, who has a home, a car, food (probably too much) in my belly, and clothes (nice ones) on my back; I have everything. Again I was humbled. Being the hands and feet of Christ, and really realizing just how blessed I am, wasn’t what affected me most. No. It was the difference between their brokenness and mine.

         In MY eyes there is but one difference between their brokenness and mine. Theirs is evident, mine is not. I see their dirty clothes, their signs as they stand on the corners of my streets. I don’t know how they got to such a broken place. Maybe they made poor decisions that led to their homelessness. I may not be homeless, but I have made poor decisions with dire consequences. I have strongholds in my life, things that have kept me from living a life of joy. You can’t see it, but the fact remains. I am just as broken as they are.   And I am humbled again.

         Christ loves those homeless people just as much as he loves me. In HIS eyes, our brokenness is the same.   We have the same identity in him. We were all “Knit together in our mother’s womb. Fearfully and wonderfully made, a wonderful work, whose days were all ordained for us before one of them came to be. His thoughts about each one of us so vast, they outnumber the grains of sand.” (Psalms 139) In the eyes of Christ we are all the same. Precious and loved.  

       I went to serve but came away with a changed heart. I will now look upon the homeless person on the street corner as a person, with a name and an identity. A person loved just as much as I am, with great worth, despite our brokenness.

   “ Oh how he loves us”( David Crowder)….

April 24, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.