a lasting contentment
Now I am perfectly content!
Of course I am not perfectly content at this point. I am a little fuzzy-brained and full of some really good ideas about how to continue developing a contented heart before the Lord. I told my mother today that this 31 days experiment has been challenging for me in part because I don't have time to write every day and so sometimes squeezing it in felt frantic and pushed. I feel as though I don't know half of what I've written and need to go back and read my own posts to genuinely interact with developing contentment. At the same time, the times when I especially had difficulty finding time to write, I can see how much the moments wringing out the words became acts of worship and times of devotion before the Lord. This very practice - this discipline - of writing (almost) daily has created a stronger sense that I am obeying God and "releasing the art I am made to live".
But if I could just explain. No. Wait. There is too much. Let me sum up.
1. Nurturing contentment leads to a tranquil heart & home. I want that.
2. As Voskamp says, "Our fall was, has been, and always will be: that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives." I am more aware of this tendency now and am more attuned to the necessity of being aware of God's good and many gifts.
3. God is a holy, righteous, extravagant giver. He supplies all our needs.
4. I can cultivate an unshakeable contentment in Christ Jesus when I am seeing through my circumstances to eternal realities.
5. In the pursuit of contentment, prayer plays a key role. Prayer is an expression of my dependence upon God, so that I am able to gladly and freely let go of dissatisfaction and cultivate contentment.
I feel a bit more settled now. Not because I have it all figured out, but because I know I am encountering God's holy words for me in this season and am learning and practicing contentment. Practice insinuates that we sometimes fail and this is so true. There are days when I wake desirous of pursuing contentment and I barely get out of bed before I just grumble or nag or whine. This does not prohibit me from reorienting my heart and continuing the practice of contentment. God presents me with so many lovely circumstances throughout the day to choose contentment. He is kind in orchestrating my days towards the pursuit of a contented heart.
But may I just say, before I close this 31 day series...that while the pursuit of a contented heart is a noble, God-honoring goal, it should not keep me from pursuing God Himself. I notice that believers tend towards elevating outward/inward practices and disciplines that are good and biblical, but can (in the extreme) keep us from cultivating an intimacy with God the Father.
Spiritual disciplines are for the purposes of opening our hearts and minds to Almighty God - to know Him better, to hear His voice, know His words. The only way I can ever develop contentment (or any other virtue), is to listen for His voice. Spiritual disciplines are tools, they are not the end goal. Lasting contentment is not a state to be achieved, but a disciplined to be practiced on the mountain top and in the drudgery of the valley.
Let us not grow weary in doing good, but let us not replace God's best for man's good. Let us seek peace and pursue it, but let the heart of God be our heart, that we would move and speak only in obedience to Him.
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all to the glory of God.
My heart and hope is that you have been encouraged to cultivate a contented heart in your home, your family, your work, your singleness or marriage, your parenthood or childlessness, your hope or despair. My heart and hope is that you and find a sweet, deep communion with the Father through prayer as you seek ways to orient your days around His Words, His heart, and His never-giving-up love for you.