Did you ever stop to think that the real key to Christian contentment is not in the getting but in the leaving? My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
This is the time of the year when you will normally still find me making wood. That means cutting down the old, dead trees split- ting the logs and stacking them in neat piles. It seems like a never ending job and as the weeks drag on, I am possessed with a degree of discontent as I look out at the ever dwindling stacks of wood. It seems that the more wood I make, the more it seems to disappear into the belly of our great room stove. No matter how much wood I stack, there never seems to be the amount that will leave me contented. So, back into the woods and the whole process begins anew.
As the beginning of winter was cold and the demand for wood increased, so my discontent was kindled along with the wood. I focused on the weekends and the desire to stack those piles higher. Then, as the year ended, the temperatures rose and stayed there for weeks. The great room fires diminished and nearly came to a stop. It was too warm to burn wood. The stacks of wood began to look different to me now. They stood at ready giving me confidence that here was enough. With the decreasing need, the desire to amass more diminished. I found that contentment did not consist of heaping up more fuel, but in taking away some of the fire.
Here’s a story. In the fifth century, a man named Arenius determined to live a holy life. So he abandoned the conforms of Egyptian soci- ety to follow an austere lifestyle in the desert. Yet whenever he visited the great city of Alexandria, he spent time wan- dering through its bazaars. Asked why, he explained that his heart rejoiced at the sight of all the things he didn’t need. (Our Daily Bread, May 26, 1994)
Did you know that the typical supermarket in the United States in 1976 stocked 9,000 articles; and today it carries over 30,000? When you stop to think of it, how many of them are absolutely essential? How many superfluous? The Apostle Paul writes, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have . . .” Did you ever stop to think that the real key to Christian contentment is not in the getting but in the leaving? We become content as Christians, set apart from the world around us, when we realize that God’s sufficiency is all that we need. When we come to that realization, it becomes easier to live with less and be content with what is needed and not with what is merely desired. Christian contentment does not consist of heaping up and keeping up. Rather, Christian contentment is in the taking away and relishing what we already have. Trust God to meet your needs and his sufficiency will give you cause to pause when the temptation to heap and keep strikes.
We pray. Heavenly Father, often our desires become so strong that we believe the only way to find contentment is to feed those desires. This often leads us into life decisions not in obedience to your Word, but obedient to our desires instead. Forgive us Father when we yield to our desires because we believe we have no other choice. Choosing to stand firm in the face of these is the better choice and, as you have promised us, contentment is a product of leaving the world behind and not embracing it. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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