I know God is always at work. Sometimes it is just easier for us to see Him or feel His presence than other times. Or, sometimes we choose to draw away instead of drawing near. A relationship is something that takes work, no matter who it is with - a friend, a family member, a spouse, or our Creator. I often catch myself on "cruise control," coasting through my Christian life, looking to God when I have a big need, or when I am feeling super joyful, or when I have a big decision to make. But it is that everyday time, when He is still longing to work through your life, even when things don't seem "eventful" or exciting, that still requires effort to keep the relationship going.
God has been putting contentment on my heart. I think we often confuse contentment with "happiness." I believe that to be "happy" is a momentary emotion, while to be "content" means that, even if you are in the worst of circumstances, you have faith and hope in knowing that God is in control, thus leading to contentment and peace. "Always be full of joy IN the Lord. I say it again - rejoice!" -Philippians 4:4-
There are many areas in which I am challenged to be "content" with my Savior...and many things that cause me to fall into "discontentment." I think I'll just share about one today...
God has put me where I am for a reason. - Over the past two years, I have struggled with the fact that where I am is a mission field. I am called to teach and minister to children and co-workers every day, HERE. My heart has longed to be overseas serving, teaching, and sharing, but for now, God has put me here. He may provide the opportunity for me to "go" in His timing, and I am in the process of seeking and following His direction with this desire...but in the meantime, I need to keep my eyes focused on the task He has set before me here and now.
Sometimes I see friends who are in grad school, finishing grad school, or doing "great" things in their lives, and I want to be there too. - What I am doing now is "great" because it is the task God has given me. One day I may have the opportunity to go to graduate school and pursue other desires, but God knows His timing there too. I need to rejoice in the different ways He is using each person He has created, and the way He wants to use me too.
Singleness is an issue that could be an entire post in itself, and I may write about this later. But I know that for now, God has allowed me the opportunity to grow and mature independently. He has called me to seek Him with ALL my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and knows my heart even better than I do. He knows my desire for a husband and a family, and my desire to serve His kingdom with that family...He gave me that desire. But I have to give it back to Him, trusting that He will provide in His perfect timing. I trust that HE is enough.
In the Fall, my Sunday School class did a study called, "Lord Change My Attitude." When I can find the book again, I plan to go back to the two sections dealing with contentment and really seek what the Lord has to teach me about this wide topic, and what His word has to say about it. One of the things I do remember about the study is that sometimes we want the right things for the wrong reason or the right things at the wrong time. It also described how sometimes God does allow us to have those things we've been wanting, if we are persistent and stubborn enough to keep pressing for them in OUR timing...but sometimes that means we experience consequences, or are unable to enjoy them, because we are allowed to have them at the wrong time or for the wrong reason. Wow...something to think about.
God has also challenged me in that I have begun praying and will continue to pray for Him to reveal little or big things in my life that are making me feel discontent. But I realized today, I can't just pray for Him to show me those things, then say, "Ok, there's something causing me a problem..." and move on. I need to honestly be willing to approach those things and figure out how to either limit them in ways that God shows me, or remove them as distractions from my life. And I can't just expect God to keep "working" and to "grow closer to Him" if I'm not willing to put any effort into the relationship.
Our church also recently did a six-week series focused on drawing nearer to God by drawing out other things from our lives. Each week we were challenged to fast from a certain area - t.v., computers/cell phones (other than business), using debit/credit cards, eating out, etc...ending with a three day fast from eating. I wish I could say that I read every study and participated in all the fasting, but I didn't. However, God did reveal something to me when I was studying one week - "Facebook is making you discontent." This was a tough one for me. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to spend time on this website updating friends, catching up, seeing how others are doing, and sharing pictures. But God showed me that it is when I spend so much time there that I put it first - before Him -that I lose my focus on what He is doing in my life...and begin "wishing" for what is going on in others' lives. Sounds simple, I guess, but it's the truth. So...I think I'm going back to putting some thought into that and starting there - I will be praying about the things that I am putting before God in my life, or am allowing to take the focus off of being content where I am....and acting on them. I'll be starting with more limited time spent in looking at everything on facebook/internet...and working to spend more time in His word.
"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9
Choosing to be thankful for this challenge and for how God is working...