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.

Habakkuk’s choice

                       Habakkuk ends with one of my favorite passages of scripture.    I love the words, as they are spoken from a heart that had come full circle in a conversation with God.    Remember Habakkuk started out angry, full of questions.   God responded with a hard answer, causing Habakkuk to look back, remember, and praise God for all he had done in the past.   He then reaffirms his faith by saying that it doesn’t matter what comes, what the circumstances around him look like, he will choose joy. 

                      Starting in verse 17 of chapter 3, Habakkuk describes some despairing, hopeless, times.  He then in verse 18 uses a very powerful word to transition to his choice of joy.  Yet.  He says “Yet, I will rejoice.”  Webster defines “yet” as now or in the future.  Habakkuk is stating that right in that moment as well as in the difficult times that were coming he was going to choose joy.  I am not sure I could choose the same.

                     I think being able to say the brave words Habakkuk did of “Yet, I will rejoice…” comes with time.  It comes when a heart fully believes and trusts God in all things.   The last few years I have been through some of the darkest days of my life. I have suffered.  I didn’t choose to rejoice or be joyful.   I didn’t resent the circumstances but I wasn’t praising God for them in the moment either.   To be honest, I am not there in my faith.   I have, however, come to the place I can say that no matter what happens it is well with my soul.   I knew thru my suffering goodness was going to come.  That the suffering was going to build my strength, and bring beauty to my ashes.  Those thoughts allowed me to choose to let it be well in my soul.   That is where I am in my faith at this moment.   In hard times, I can be at peace, but I am not ready to choose joy.  I am not ashamed to admit it either.   And that is because I believe God honored Habakkuk’s choice to choose joy, and I know he honors the place where I am- that no matter what comes my way it is well with my soul. 

                       I know this because of the words written in Habakkuk 3:19, “The sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes me as surefooted as the deer, able to tread upon the heights.”  Climbing a mountain is full of craggy, slippery places.  God gives me the strength and the sure footing I need to climb.  I know he will also help me get to the place Habakkuk did, the place of choosing joy in the darkest moments of life.     

March 11, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.