Monday, October 8, 2012

Multitude Monday: Contentment

Writing from prison to the believers in Philippi, Paul tells us “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need”. Philippians 4:11-12

I love Paul's triumph here and more importantly, I love that God brought him to this place for the benefit of every believer who will feast on these words, again and again, generation after generation. For Satan, he takes no greater pleasure than to breed discontent in our hearts. Paul's words mean death to Satan's schemes and for that reason alone, Philippians 4:11-12 is a priceless Biblical gem indeed.

You wouldn't know it from my outburst yesterday, but God is working this gem in me. 

My son's ADHD was like a hammer to my head for some concentrated afternoon hours, short-circuiting the contentment function in my heart. And while I tried to slam our faulty microwave door with just the right force to engage the broken start button, coaxing 6 baked potatoes out of it without popping an electrical circuit...all the while feeling the sensation of a snapped underwire in my years-old bra digging into my skin...well, contentment was not mine

And hearing my dedicated son Paul, willingly practicing his half-hour of piano--on which he's self-teaching with the help of beginner piano books--tell me that his cheap, battery-powered lap keyboard no longer played right...while I worked in a kitchen with four broken drawers sagging down and a snapped-in-two cabinet door someone swung on one too many times...well, contentment was not mine.

In a moment there, my spirit wanted to get into my van with its missing door panels, door handles and door locks, its filthy carpet and dirty upholstery, its 220,000 miles, and drive off into the sunset that wasn't.

But my husband was outside trying to fix my son's bike chain and tire for the fiftieth time and what exactly does Peter do to cause these chronic bike problems that terrorize his already-busy Daddy? 

So if I drove off into the sunset that wasn't, who would finish the Sunday-night roast chicken dinner preparations? What would the children eat for dinner besides chicken and how would my husband manage the baths, stories, teeth, and devotions, all by himself?

I plowed through, feeling no choice, but my mood tasted sour and my outburst ruined a perfectly good dinner. 

Once I read that ADHD causes as much parental stress as autism. Probably a true statement, that. In a final act of heartlessness, I let my son know that his relentless onslaught and inability to delay gratification ruined my night and could he please stay away from me because I couldn't. take. it. another. minute.

And perhaps worst of all, Mommy didn't apologize before bed and it wasn't until Scripture drove the truth into her soul a few hours later, that her heart melted and sorrowed over her ghastly display of discontent and ungodliness. Thank the Lord for a daily washing with the Word. What would my filthy heart do without this eternal soap?

This I learned: Moment to moment contentment is not found in properly working household items or in properly behaved children. It's not found in classy shoes, new bras, beautiful kitchen cabinetry, well-fitting clothes or a shiny new van.

As the Apostle told Timothy, “we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content”. (1 Timothy 6:7-8)

Job, too, understood this  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)

Blessed be the name of the Lord because as creature comforts are taken away from me, I transfer my affections to God and his purposes. 

My Lord? He's doing an incredible work in my Apostle-Paul type work. And when I stop to give thanks for it, to surrender to it, to look forward to the beauty it will wrought in my heart, I get that much closer to Paul's declaration: I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) How much more has to go wrong, how much more has to break, has much more has to rattle my nerves, before I utter these same words?

The more we let go of temporal possessions, the more we gain eternal treasures...the kind we can take with us

The less we are attached to creature comforts, the more we are attached to Christ. 

And the converse? It's also true. The more we are attached to creature comforts, the more we are attached to Satan. The more we are attached to Satan, the more we are attached to the future and not thankful for the present.

“We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” Uncle Screwtape’s counsel to his nephew Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters 

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Tomorrow morning, not only will I apologize, but I'll also teach: It's beautiful to be surrounded by broken things...and the above Scriptures? They tell us why.

Giving thanks today:

~ A determined, disciplined, talented son...may he daily give thanks for, and never develop pride over his God-given gifts.

~ A broken son whose life teaches me surrender and godly contentment...may I love him well and teach him his worth in Jesus Christ, his Redeemer.  

~ Sunday-night roast chicken dinners

~ A husband who dutifully takes the spiritual lead

~ Hugs from little girls with heavenly smelling hair

~ Hot cocoa sipped with my Bible reading 

~ Middle-of-the-night headaches that steal me more time with my Bible 

~ Fall color all around

~ Chili cook-off fellowship dinner next weekend

~ Two letters in one day from India

~ Husband's hugs in the midst of child-rearing craziness

~ Endless laundry (we have changes of clothes to our name, praise the Lord)

~ A little girl who loves late-afternoon light in the trees. "Can I go outside, Mommy? It's my favorite part of the day!"

~ Food in the fridge and pantry for a week.

What are you thankful for today, friend? 

Giving thanks with Ann and other thankful ladies, for Multitude Monday.
photo credit 1, credit 2, credit 3

Also linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose


Wendy @ E1A said...

Christine, there is definitely something to be said for thankfulness. Every time I fail to be thankful, dissatisfaction creeps in. Thank you for this wonderful post.

I hope you don't mind if I link it with up on my Inspirational Posts page?

Tesha said...

Wonderful inspiring post! Right when I really wanted to complain I read this ....perfect timing!

Christine said...

Sure, Wendy. Anytime and thank you for visiting today. Loved your recent post on blogging, btw.

Tesha, thank you for your continued encouragement. It means so much to me!

Christine said...

Sure, Wendy. Anytime and thank you for visiting today. Loved your recent post on blogging, btw.

Tesha, thank you for your continued encouragement. It means so much to me!

Mommas Sunshine said...

Being a mom is not matter what the bloggers may say. Parents are not perfect. We do the best we can.

And yes, thankfully we have a loving Father who always understands and a Saviour who cares.

I love the scriptures you chose.

Christine said...

Thank you, Tanya (Mommas Sunshine) for visiting today and encouraging. I am heading over to visit you as well.

Nikki @ Simplystriving said...

We are neighbors over at Imperfect Prose today and I'm thrilled to meet you!

If there's one thing parenthood has taught me, it's that we are all in need of a Savior. never too much grace poured down...

Oh but we have so much to be thankful for. Grace is #1!

Wish I was near so I could give you a hug!

All for Him with hugs to you,

Christine said...

Thank you, Nikki. Yes, we are all so hungry and in need of his grace. Praise God for that! Thank you for visiting!

suzannah | the smitten word said...

oh, this mothering gig is HARD and brings out our sharpest sides sometime. new mercies tomorrow:)

Emily Wierenga said...

my dear christine, your poignant prayers, your utterly real posts, never fail to bring tears to my eyes. thank you for always pointing my eyes to the cross.