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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Holy Habit of Contentment ... post 2

Part 1 here.

God is the Blessed Controller (thank YOU God!) not me.

God knows what is good and right for me, I don't, really (although I like to thing I do!). He knows what I need in my life to make me more like Christ, more useful, and just. plain. more.

As I told you in my last post, these are my reflections on a retreat I attended last weekend. One thing the speaker, Amy, asked us was, "What are your prison bars?" Are you looking up at Jesus or looking down and wallowing in the past or current circumstances. Am I filtering my life by looking out through the bars of my discontent? Um. Yes, sometimes.

For me, discontent happens when I slip into hopelessness. When the gap between reality (or what appears to be real) and what could/should be seems insurmountable. I see where I want/need to go/be - but the getting there seems impossible. If I'm hopeless/discontent then I have stopped looking at God, who is bigger and able to accomplish more than I can comprehend, and have started to focus on my circumstances or lack or hurts (in short, myself). I have forgotten that I AM NOT the Blessed Controller. His plans are way better than anything I could have come up with. When I'm discontent with what He has for me, then I miss Him at work, I miss what He's telling me, I miss His glory.

We are called to be content in the circumstances, not when they improve. We are called to be content in the circumstances, not when they improve. We are called to be content in the circumstances, NOT WHEN THEY IMPROVE.

At the core, discontentment is a lack of trust in God. A refusal to acknowledge God's sovereign plan for our life. As Peter says (I Peter 5:6) Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. Only in humility am I able to cast my worries/anxieties/fears on the Lord. Discontentment leads to worry and anxiety, which leads to fear, which causes me to turn away from God and into myself. Which I hate to say - is pride. (oh, pride, I loathe you!)

Amy suggests using our worries/anxieties/fears as a catalyst for prayer. Stop and pray before you freak out. Stop and pray before you share a prayer request or praise with another. Here's the biggy. Pray with thanksgiving. This is hard - hard to pray with thanks for the hard stuff. The Psalmist says in 116:17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. Thanksgiving is a sacrifice. An acknowledgement that God is the blessed controller of my circumstances - and that He is using the hard stuff to discipline and purify me.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I see that receiving peace is a choice we make over and over again by the power of the Holy Spirit:
~a choice to be anxious for nothing & pray with thanksgiving
~a choice to dwell on what is true and good

then our hearts can't help but be content. Every stage of our life, the good, the bad, the everyday is ordained by God. He has something for me to learn, to do, to share in each of those times. Peace comes through trust and acceptance of my circumstances. Contentment with my circumstances. Because, after all, God IS the Blessed Controller.

How about you? How have you learned to trust God in your circumstances?

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