This morning in my quiet time with God, one of the talks from the She Speaks conference leapt to the forefront of my mind. It’s a message I so urgently need to be reminded of today. Maybe it’s something you need to hear too.
But first, I need to be honest.
As I’ve written, I loved the She Speaks conference. But something else is festering in my mind that doesn’t resemble sweet spiritual fruit like love...or joy...or even peace. In fact, I think these fruits are their rotten cousins, cast out of the bushel basket—discontentment, jealously and doubt. Yuck!
I would have been perfectly pleased with my conference experience if I hadn’t done one thing: compared it to others. With each blog I read, I compared my experience to the writer’s: “She made more friends.” “She had the life-changing experience I was hoping for.” “She befriended one of the ministry leaders.” “They’ve gotten more comments on their blog.” “Out of the crowd of hundreds, she was noticed.”
Those rotten fruits are overtaking the fruit salad and it stinks in here!
On Saturday morning, Karen Ehman spoke about this very thing: experiencing Godly contentment. Contentment like Paul wrote about in Philippians: “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.” (4:12b, emphasis mine)
But we’re not content in ALL situations, are we? We’re content UNTIL. We’re content with our marriage, UNTIL our sister gushes about her thoughtful husband. We’re content with our children, UNTIL we observe our neighbor’s “perfect” kids. We’re content with our homes, UNTIL we see our friend’s professionally-designed kitchen. We’re content with our job UNTIL we get passed over for a promotion. We're content with our faith UNTIL someone gets the God experience we wanted. We’re content, UNTIL… Yuck!
It doesn’t take a theologian to see that our version of contentment and Paul’s don’t line up.
We set ourselves up for failure when, through our own sin-filled eyes, we rank and compare and judge. We pat ourselves on the back if we measure up. Or struggle with rejection and doubt if we don’t. We strive for the kudos of man instead of the accolades of heaven.
We forget that before the foundations of the earth were set in place, God made us. He chose us. And He set a purpose for our lives. It’s not a one size fits all plan, but one crafted just for YOU.
As believers, each of us is part of the body of Christ, not one more important than the other. (Read 1 Corinthians 12.) Some have been called to the limelight; others to remain behind the scenes. Some to feed thousands; others to nourish just a few. Some to be bold and gregarious. Others to be quiet and reflective. Some will be entrusted with a lot; others with a little. It doesn’t matter WHAT we do, it matters THAT we do.
So what was Paul’s secret to being content in any and every situation? Trust. He said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Even though his flesh probably had other ideas, deep in his heart he trusted and followed God’s plan for HIS life—not Peter's life or Timothy's or Luke's.
Thank you Karen, for showing us truth. (I’ve personalized your message, so forgive me if I’ve misrepresented you.) Judging by the response of the audience, it’s not just me who struggles with being content with my little and my lot. Why, oh why do I find this so hard?!
What about you? Do feel that God has forgotten you because He’s too busy crafting big plans for others? Do you struggle to even know what His plans are for your life? Do you feel overwhelmed by your circumstances? Is your basket filled with more rotten fruit than spiritual fruit?