What More Could You Want

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have,
for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
(Hebrews 13:5)

Contentment is a difficult thing to find.

Honestly, the world does not encourage contentment. Just as soon as you get the latest smartphone, there’s a new model announced. You think your car has all the bells and whistles, wait until what you see next year’s line. Whatever you’re reading this email on, it’s already out of date. The grass is always greener, softer, more “grassy” on the other side of the fence.

It’s not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses anymore, whoever they might have been. It used to be that you knew the Joneses, lived in the same town as them, operated in a similar economy. The notion of “keeping up” was at least in the realm of possibility.

Now, with the constant barrage of social media and worldwide advertising we are encouraged to compare ourselves with the unattainably wealthy, and to never be satisfied until we are just like them. We live under the constant pressure to have more, to get more, to be more. Our identity is wrapped up in our possessions, we are defined by what we have.

But it’s not just the stuff.

There is also a particular pressure to live up to the impossible standards of the “perfect” life that’s floating around out there. We act like we have to have it all together. You know what I mean:

  • The car is detailed, not a stale French fry to be found.
  • The children are clean, quiet, well-mannered, and always right on time for their soccer/music/scouts/church events with a warm batch of brownies to share.
  • The house is immaculate, maintaining that delicate balance of feeling comfortable and looking like everything was just delivered by Ethan Allen.
  • You’re never stressed, never tired, and always available to play another round of Monopoly with the kids AND volunteer to take meals to the shut-ins AND lead a small group study.

Granted, no one has ever done this and survived, but we all feel like that’s what everyone else expects of us, and we have to maintain the illusion. We wouldn’t want to let anyone down.

Why do we act like this?  Why do we build our identity on the things we acquire, on the things we do, on the illusion that we are so well put together? We rush through this life, grabbing up everything we can, thinking that maybe the things we surround ourselves with will finally bring meaning, satisfaction, or security to our fragile existence.  We compare ourselves to the people around us, wanting to be as happy as they are, never realizing what insecurities or pains they are wrestling with inside.

Perhaps it stems from a case of misplaced love. That’s why the author of Hebrews says, “Keep your life from the love of money.” Your identity and contentment are really a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.” Where is your heart directed? You will either love God with all your heart, and all the priceless delights will be found in His provision, or your heart will be divided among the passing and unsatisfying bar-coded indulgences. Both may satisfy, but only one will satisfy completely.

It could be, too, that we have forgotten who, and whose we are. This often happens when our hearts are divided, we not only lose our contentment, we lose our identity. Kevin DeYoung, in his book The Hole in our Holiness, puts it this way,

If we are heirs to the whole world, why should we envy?  If we are Gods’ treasured possession, why be jealous?  If God is our Father, why be afraid?  If we are dead to sin, why live in it?  If we’ve been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways? If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world? If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself?

Here’s the thing, if you want to find contentment, if you want peace from the rat-race, if you want to be secure in your identity remember God’s promise to you.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the of the age.” He is with us, and we need nothing more for our joy and peace in believing, for our comfort in life and in death, there is not one spiritual blessing withheld from those who seek him with all their heart. Be satisfied in Him, know the soul-satisfying joy of His presence.

Say it with me, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want!”

Sola Deo Gloria!

Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 3 – The Peace of the Lord

Day 3 in Haiti is wrapping up. We’re being serenaded by the Bamboula Party outside: a little reggai, a little calypso – I don’t know what you call it, but its Haitian. It is catchy, but I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my music library anytime soon.
The day started slowly – the entire team had a good night’s sleep, and a good morning’s sleep too. For some reason, we all slept in a bit, but that’s okay. Our mission partners here had a funeral to attend in the morning, so we were left at the beach house to organize the items we brought, and were asked to help clean out the garage. That was all finished pretty quickly, so we took advantage of the beach being quiet for a moment, and spent some time in the water. The waves were great, the water nice and warm – really it was a wonderful morning.
After lunch, we left for the Consolation Center. The women went on to visit the James 1:27 Community – a ministry that houses widows and pairs them with orphaned or abandoned infants – they held the babies and loved on them for a while. They weren’t allowed to take any luggage there – we didn’t want to tempt them with the idea of bringing a little one home.
While the women were there, the three men stayed at the Consolation Center to try to fix the school bus. They have a big yellow bus from Laurens-Marathon schools to transport the kids. Problem was, it wouldn’t go in reverse. Bruce checked the transmission under the bus, I was electrocuting myself on the start switch (which was hotwired). Meanwhile, Matt was tinkering with the electrical box on the side of the bus. He found an unplugged cord marked “Rev:Rel” and wondered if it should be connected to the other unplugged cord; he put them together and viola – the bus goes backwards now.
We then tried our hand at a little welding, repairing the door of the bus. The welding didn’t work though, as we didn’t have the right welding material – but it was a noble effort.
Our study for the day was on Peace – the peace of God which we know in Christ, a peace that comes in the power of His Spirit.
It’s funny: we long for peace in our busy, hectic, frenetic lives. We chase ourselves around and around, thinking that by doing a little more, earning just a couple more dollars, having just a little more stuff, we’ll finally find that peace that we’ve been longing for. But it never comes. We keep running just to stand still (thank you, Bono), we keep chasing the horizon, peace eludes us.
And then we come to Haiti. The motto here seems to be, “Hurry Up and Wait.” We’ve got goals and expectations for the trip, but as we go through the day, we realize, those goals are far less important than just loving the people, showing the kids that they are cared for and treasured. We have to remember that sitting with a widow and holding a baby is more important than building something or checking something off your to do list.
There is peace in holding a child who just needs to be loved, in playing soccer with kids who’ve never known an adult who cared for them. There is peace in the contentment and satisfaction in knowing that you are where God has placed you, and you can only do the work that He places before you – anything more or less would be a step out of His plan (thank you, Amy Grant).
We have peace with God, we have peace in God. We were at one time rebels from the throne of God, violators of His will, trespassers of His law. But now, through the mercy of Christ, God has reconciled the world to Himself. We have peace with God – our sins are forgiven. Our longing, our desires, our hopes and expectations – they are all met in Christ Jesus our Lord. He is our Prince of Peace; when He came into the world, the angels sang “Glory be to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men;” as He prepared for the cross, He gave us His peace, so that our hearts would never be troubled (John 15:27).
We shared tonight about what peace means, when we’ve experienced the peace of God in our hearts. We cried a little, laughed too, but spoke to one another’s hearts. We shared the peace of God, the peace that passes all understanding. It is this peace that allows us to serve here. A peace that tells us that we are not in control, but there is One who is in control. He knows our yesterdays, our todays, our tomorrows, and our tomorrow’s tomorrows: there is nothing He does not see, nothing that is not in His hands. Knowing this gives us peace. We are in His hands. Our cares, our worries, He knows them, and He will provide, and when we delight in Him, our hearts will be satisfied.
He is with us, His peace abides with us. The presence of the Lord is the calm in the storm, the confidence in the face of the accuser, the stronghold in times of trouble, the rock that is higher than the flood, the peace in the midst of the choas. This is the peace that allowed Job, that allows us to say when everything else was gone, I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).