Contentment

Contentment

In 2013, I was 20 years old. I had already been in college for 4 years, and had another 3 years ahead of me before I could graduate and begin my career. When people would strike up a conversation by asking “What’s new?” my answer was always the same: school.

Having consumed way too many romance novels in my youth, I was always longing for romance, always had a crush on some guy (or two or three), and lived for the day that “Mr. Right” would finally recognize my existence. Yet school didn’t leave me much time for relationships, and marriage-ready men were quick to move on when they learned how many years of schooling I had left.

 

Meanwhile, my classmates were graduating left and right, my classes were filled with
fewer and fewer people I knew, and more 18 year old freshmen by the day. I was feeling very left behind and very restless. I was always longing for the next thing, and being a very impatient person, I was always taking it upon myself to make that thing happen.

At the time that I wrote this poem, God was beginning to show me a lesson that I am still learning today. I wish I could say I never fell into old patterns and habits again, but no, my tendency to rashly forge my own path in life did lead to some life lessons that probably didn’t need to happen. I led on, then let down countless young men because I couldn’t resist the enticement of “what if,” but the fit and the timing were all wrong.

I accepted a “dream job” that wasn’t what God had for me, quickly found that out on my first day, and was fortunate to be let out of the job without any penalty. And all this time, I could hear the quiet voice of Jesus, telling me to wait, telling me to be patient, telling me to trust Him. And while I did eventually graduate at 23, found not one but two excellent jobs that were a much better fit for me, met the man that God knew all along that I needed, and got married a few weeks shy of 24, I am still learning this lesson today.

The lesson is this:

1) What you think you want may not actually be what you need.

The things God had in store are often far better and wilder than we could have imagined (this born and raised Oregonian certainly never saw herself moving to Canada). I’ve learned time and time again in my life NEVER to limit God with the smallness of my imagination or the grimness of my realism. God doesn’t see any situation as bleak or hopeless, because His abilities have no limits.

2) The key is in rest.

Hebrews 4:1, 9-11 says, “1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it…9 So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” (NLT)

Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” (NLT) And finally, 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (NLT): “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When we put our focus on God and delight ourselves in Him, when we make an effort to be thankful for the place we are now and to appreciate what He has already done for us, and when we step out of the way and stop trying to make things go our way, that leaves room for God to be powerful in our lives and bring us to where He wants us to be.

IMG_20170902_191231032.jpg
She rushes this way and that —
restless —
fights against the current;
forces what will not bend.
She is exhausted in the struggle,
wonders at the emptiness and yet
keeps on striving, chasing rainbows around new corners,
grasping at the grains of what she thinks she wants.
If she could only rest and be still,
she would catch the grace raining from above
and be filled with an everlasting joy.
If she could stop and listen,
she would hear the voice of the glad streams,
she would content herself in their riches,
she would learn to ride with the current
of a blessed will that is not her own,
and find that her lines were drawn in pleasant places
and in seeking fulfillment from the fount eternal,
to her cup was added those things she had sought.
~Poem by Erin Bowman~

 

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