Wednesday, August 30, 2017

for when you need contentment in the calling

As we conclude our look into these next Ten months, let us remember past Truths that have been revealed and concentrate on opening our hearts to the new ones God so lovingly and continuously presses upon us because of the beautiful gift of Grace.  

He is our simple answer in the midst of the complicated world, the one who gave us "time."  

And in the midst of all unknowns, we are Known to Him and when we Abide and Obey we can hear and follow His call in our lives.  

Though you would think the hard part is over once we hear, it only begins, as we then have to be content in whatever it is He has called us to...

If at this moment we were somehow miraculously blessed with a daughter, she would be given what could be interpreted as a most grandma sounding name.  Matilda Ruth May would hold not only have all of our hearts, but in turn would be granted a first name after one of my most favorite book characters and a middle name matching that of a woman in the bible that has encouraged me since the first reading decades ago.

Ruth was a girl who married a man who had moved from another land into her own.  After the death of her husband, her husband's brother, and her husband's father, she was left alone with her mother in law along with a sister in law who also happened to be from the same country as she.  Though tradition and law would have kept her bound to her husband's family when the decision was made to move back to the family's original homeland, her mother in law gave her an out, told her to stay in the place she knew, with the people she knew.  Her sister in law took the opportunity to leave.  Ruth stayed.  And thus began a story that resulted in another link in the line of Jesus.

The thing is, Ruth didn't know that that was going to happen.  No angel appeared to her as did to Mary centuries later to tell her she was going to birth a Savior.  Ruth did not have the benefit of reading and studying her story in a bound book as we have.  All Ruth had was a brief moment on a road to make a decision to turn back or keep going.  No one would have faulted her for either choice.

Finally hearing and answering God's call in your life brings a peace, a relief, a joy that cannot be compared to anything else.  That moment when you step forward into your next thing, even when it happens without a feeling of complete confidence, holds an excitement of adventure whether or not there is a healthy dose of unsurety mixed in.  

But just down the road from that initial beginning, when the trudging of your feet on the path begins to wear down the initial excitement, is where the doubt can begin to sneak in.

An in depth study of the book of Ruth in college left me with a phrase that pops into my head often, Glean in the field where you are planted.  Meaning, wherever you find yourself, take advantage of the opportunity, learn all you can from the experience so that that knowledge can become wisdom and prepare you for whatever is to come next.  Over the years, I have learned--the hard way no doubt--that there is another aspect to gleaning where you are planted, you have to be content with being there in the first place.

Have you ever tried to be content with where you are all the while being furious at where you were?  

Those two feelings do not mix.  You can not be content in where God has you if you are furious for being there.  But believe me, BELIEVE ME, when I say it is ok if contentment is not an immediate reaction.  For someone who is constantly carrying the undesired side effect of a short fuse as a result from her past hurts, Fury can definitely be a stop on the trip to get there.  It's ok to get mad and frustrated, with an array of other emotions thrown in as pit stops as well.  

If fury, or anything else besides contentment, is the one you are feeling now, let Him know, don't try to push past it or ignore it, or fix it on your own.  Your unrelenting loving Father can handle all of you and longs to do so.  He knows your heart and is forever refining you on the way, so tell Him what you are feeling, SAY IT OUT LOUD.  Your inner dispositions can not truly change if it's not Christ in you that is changing them.  

There are many words that can be substituted for contentment in the world.  Pleasure, cheerfulness, and gratification are just a few, but in this conversation of being content with where God has placed each of us, the only word I can think to use is Satisfied.  God longs for us, asks us, to let Him satisfy.  To let Him fill up all the places inside us so that we are satisfied in Him and Him alone.  To seek satisfaction elsewhere is to place something else in His place. above where He should rest in your life.  

Satisfy us Lord, with your tender mercies that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

The hardest part for me to understand was when in the middle of something, in the middle of the hard and confusing, not knowing whether to seek contentment and wait for change or to seek contentment and look for change.  Life in Christ is not passive.  Yes God is sovereign, and holds the entirety of my story in his Hand completely crafted from eternity, but it takes my physical movement to go forward on this earth.

Were the things I was facing, were the rocks I was pushing up hill needed to build whatever was at the peak or were they just getting in the way and needed to be let go to roll back down so that my hands would be free for whatever I would find to do at the top?  This is that time again when I listen to these words instead of the doubts that can come up, "No matter what our circumstances, we can enter right now into God's will for us--the will of a wise and loving Father who knows how to weave all of our choices into a redemptive masterpiece."  Whether I keep pushing an unnecessary boulder or whether I let one go that might have been helpful to have after all, I can be content in whatever state I find myself in next because He redeems it all.

One important thing I have learned to help me with truly being content in where I am was discovering that many times I was scared to be content because I was afraid God would make me stay there forever or forget that I wanted to move onto something else.  I realized, that God knows the desires of my heart and asking for something is not a sign of discontentment, as long as I trust Him no matter what His answer is.

Though I am not a huge podcast fan--I have an aversion to the lack of genuine voices podcasting can supply--there are a few, with normal vocal tones, that I have come to listen to.  One of which, called The Pivot, included a conversation between two singer/songwriters my husband and I have loved since college, Andrew Osenga and Bebo Norman.

When seeking contentment in where you are in the midst of following the call in your life, when racked with confusion over knowing whether or not your search is fruitful or futile, take into account my synopsis of the ending of their conversation...

"It's ok to try something and for it to go well and for it to not go well.  It's ok to walk away from something that is going really well because you are not meant to do it.  You can be about pursuing something and come to the conclusion that it is not something you need to continue pursuing.  You can be about pursuing something and know it's something you do not want to continue pursuing but have no choice at the moment to not do it because of the commitment that you have made.  Even the next thing you are sure you are supposed to do may not work and then you will find yourself back at square one again.  The gift is knowing that whatever hurdle comes, it doesn't end who you are, your identity in Christ.  Life does not fall apart just because of a shift in your current state."

Christ gives you freedom from caring about the end result because He gives you freedom to be content in the midst of whatever.  Nothing is wasted.

I hope you have enjoyed and gleaned from the lessons we have been learning this month and that they have and will help you think about your next ten months and carry over into your forever as well.

I will be praying that you will continue to see and hear where He is taking you and that you will be able to find contentment in the midst of whatever it is.  Pray for me.

Part 1 - The next ten months
Part 2 - A simple answer
Part 3 - Time is not ours
Part 4 - Doing the 'right' thing

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