>I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. Philippians 4:12
Much has been written about this passage from Paul in the book of Philippians. It is a verse that I have tried to emulate as I have struggled throughout my adult life with a myriad of challenges, from being a reluctant single adult, to job struggles, to the state of friendships and the desires of my heart. This passage has frustrated me when I haven’t wanted to be content (but know that’s God’s desire for me) and when I have wanted to be content and it seems that outside factors press in on every side and make it seemingly impossible to be content.
Lately I have been challenged to examine contentedness from a different perspective. There are areas in my life where I have to ask myself if I am using “contentedness” as an excuse to allow complacency to creep in, forgetting to look outside of my comfort zone to see if there is something there that I should be pursuing.
I am finding that while contentedness with what God has put in my life is a worthy goal and pleasing to God, sometimes after a period of time He wants to move me from that place where I have become content because He wants to grow me and use me in a different way.
By allowing God to examine my heart and my life often, and praying for the wisdom to see the difference between contentedness and complacency I can move closer to the woman God desires me to be – His perfect creation. It’s sometimes uncomfortable, but there is always a reward waiting for me.
>Growing up with a dairy farmer dad it seems I saw a lot more of his legs than I did the rest of his body. Dad spent a lot of time underneath or inside some tractor, implement or other piece of equipment trying to keep it going (or “improve” it). There were plenty of things on the farm that could break, and not much money to hire someone to fix all of it. So my dad and uncle repaired, welded, unstuck and contraptionized (translated: making something work however you can) in order to keep things running.
It wasn’t uncommon for Dad to say, “Come on, help me with this” and I would hand him tools or fit my small hands into places where his big, calloused farm hands wouldn’t. Some of my favorite memories are times spent fixing or building things with my dad, and I always pictured myself marrying a man who fixed things like he did. I pictured myself with someone a lot like my dad, but God had other ideas.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
The other day I came home to the news that the steering on the lawn mower was broken. The repairman had been called but there was no news of when he would arrive and the sky was about to open up and pour on us again. Since Dad’s not here with us and I had no husband to do it for me I decidedto give it a try. Crawling underneath I found that in fact the chain mechanism hadn’t broken, just come apart. My hands were covered with grease and my nail polish was ruined but it wasn’t too long before I had the chain on the sprokets and back together, thanking the Lord that we could get the mower back to the barn and out of the impending rain.
My plans of being married with a family were different than the Lord’s plans for me so far. It hasn’t always been easy, and I haven’t always liked it, but I have learned so much about myself and life in general that I am certain I wouldn’t have learned if the Lord had granted the desire of my heart 20 years ago. I have learned that no matter where I am in life the Lord will provide for me whatever I need, if I only ask…even fixing mowers.
The Lord will do the same for you, and you may even see your desires change as you allow Him to direct your paths. God is so gracious and wants us to draw near to Him to see the best He has for us.
What have you learned about yourself as the Lord has changed your plans?
>Last night I set out to rototill the garden. Getting the tiller out after its long winter nap is often a challenge and last night was no different. After filling it with gas and checking the battery, etc. I turned the key and…nothing. I fiddled around a little, then tried the pull rope. One yank and the engine sputtered to life. Glancing downward I noticed that one of the tires seemed a little flat but I decided it would be ok until I got down to the front garden.
Excited to see that first turn of the soil, the tiller and I headed to the back garden. We hit the edge of the garden and I engaged the tines. “Here we go” I thought. “Finally time to play in the dirt!” As I eased the tiller into forward motion we set out, tines breaking the ground and turning the soil beneath them. Something wasn’t right. The tiller kept veering off to the right and I had to constantly fight to keep it in a straight line. I muttered and fought, but nothing I did seemed to help. Then I looked down.
The tire that didn’t seem so bad earlier was so flat that the rim of the wheel was down in the dirt. Since it was the tire on the right side and the left tire was ok the tiller kept going off course. After chiding myself for not taking the time before I got started to fill the tire in the first place I steered the rototiller (the best I could) towards the garage and the air compressor. After a little fill-up the tire was full and the tiller cruised back to the garden straight and true.
As I continued with my tilling I got to thinking about how poorly my life seems to go when I’m not “filled up”. It’s not the air compressor that is essential for me. I require daily (at least) filling with God’s word and a some quality time with Him if I want my life to be straight and true.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV) reminds us:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Just as trying to get by without putting air in the tire of the rototiller made me frustrated and kept impeding my progress in the garden, not filling my heart and soul with God’s word and listening for His direction each day puts me off course in life. I find myself frustrated and wondering why things don’t go the way I want them to. But when I take the time to submit to God and allow Him to fill me up my day starts with a sense of peace and I look forward to what it will bring instead of setting my agenda and getting bent out of shape when it goes awry.
Has the “air” gone out of your tires? Are you missing something in your day and can’t put your finger on it? Try spending some time with God and seeking His word. I’m certain you’ll walk away filled up and ready to walk in the peace that He has for you today.
Blessings on your day!