I am so undeserving of the lavish outpouring of love I've received lately. Speechless.
A lot of people asked me what I wanted this year. I... honestly don't know. I have everything I need and pretty much everything I could even want. My heart is full, life is beautiful and you all are part of that beauty.
I've had this quote in my head recently... I've blogged about it before... a while ago.
If I see God in everything, He will calm and color everything I see. -Hannah Whitall Smith
I've been thinking about contentment lately... about what it means to be content... to have peace... to be filled to the point where you're no longer yearning for something you don't have. Do you reach that point when you have everything you want? Or do you reach that point when you just stop yearning for it?
I guess it depends on what you want. What do you really want? And what would you be willing to give up in order to get it?
You know the difference between your whole being pulsating with energy & freshness of God's divine life or feeling worn out & weary. -Dr. Pardington
I had a thought on Sunday... about contentment... let's see if I can put it into words.
Discontentment... can be the driving force to push someone to strive after and pursue things they have not yet obtained. Discontentment can also be a negative force, driving people into depression/jealousy as they focus on what they do not have. I don't know if there's another way to go with this... as of right now, I can only think of these two ways to respond to discontent.
I think that when you love someone or something, discontentment with the status quo naturally follows. The stronger you love someone or something, the stronger you feel the drive to have more and more of that person or that thing. To love with a passion... it rouses hearts, stirs to life... passionate love drives people to do crazy things.
So how does it usually play out? We are all living in this world... it is very easy to love the things of this world and there are plenty of good things to love... and plenty of bad things too. But for those of us who have God in our lives... God's Word tells us that we cannot love both the things of this world AND love God. They are incompatible. Loving the things of this world and loving God are negatively correlated. As one increases, the other decreases. And whatever we love... we become enslaved to.
K... this is something I wrote a while ago in my journal. It's on the topic of enslavement. I hesitated in posting this. But hey, maybe it'll be a good one to spark discussion. Here goes:
We never think of ourselves as enslaved. This is America. Land of the free. Equal opportunity. We'd say, we are slaves of no one. The Pharisees also said that in John 8:33.
And yet we are enslaved. We are all enslaved. Either we're enslaved to God, or we are enslaved to the world and the ruler of this world is the devil. Anything that pulls us away from God is an idol. I don't know how you feel about that. Offended? I'm open to discussing your thoughts.
OK so let me go on about enslavement in my own life. From my own experiences, I've been enslaved... to many things: to pride, to past hurts & baggage, to bitterness, to fear, to lust, to boyfriends, to school, to achievements... anything that was/is an idol in my life I was enslaved to. And what proof is there that I was enslaved? Let's take for example... pride. When pride keeps me from doing something or apologizing when I know I need to... I'm enslaved to pride because my pride is dictating my actions. I am no longer choosing... the pride is choosing for me. On bitterness... being enslaved to bitterness is a particularly nasty one. It affected my whole being. Listen to these thoughts:
I CANNOT love this person because I deserve to be treated with respect and they're not treating me the way I want them to treat me. I CANNOT let it go! If you only knew what they said to me, you'd agree! I CAN'T even look them in the face. I CAN'T be in the same room with them. I can't, I can't, I can't. Really? I CAN'T?!? Sounds like something's dictating my actions and it's not me anymore. Enslaved.
And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
What truth? The truth... of the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ came to save us from enslavement to sin, to free us from the enslavement inherent in us, through the cleansing power of His blood. When Jesus Christ resurrected, He conquered death. Death is the punishment for sin, and in that conquering, He gave us all the hope that we, too, can conquer death and sin if we would only accept that gift of salvation by believing that He is God and that He did what He did on the cross. To acknowledge and believe that He is God, that He is Lord of all and what He did on the cross & 3 days later is to put ourselves in the proper place, the way God paved for us and meant for it to be... so that He can be with us... His beloved creation.
Regardless of whether or not you believe He is Lord and ruler over all, He is. He's always been and He will always be. To be enslaved to God... you think it sounds like a bad thing, right? It's only because slavery has such negative connotations because being enslaved to sinful men/people or sin... results in misery and sadness because people are selfish and giving power to sinful, selfish people is just... not a good thing. Being enslaved to a master who is holy, who is good to the absolute meaning of good, in whom there is no darkness, no selfishness, no ulterior motive, nothing of this world... it's all good. He ALWAYS wants good for us, not evil.
Lots of people quote Jeremiah 29:11, but I think the surrounding verses are really powerful too.
10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.
Enslavement to God, a sinless God, is freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from emptiness, freedom from frustration and freedom from discontentment in this world. In Him is freedom and JOY. Life, and life abundantly.
The fulfilled life, a life of joy & purpose, with peace that surpasses understanding... lies in being enslaved to the only One who will not disappoint. He will never leave us, He will never forget us, He will never cease to protect us, He will never stop loving us. And He will never tell us to do something horrible. He is ALL good. Everything that comes from Him is good.
This is the blessed life-not anxious to see far down the road nor overly concerned about the next step, not eager to choose the path nor weighted down with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following the Shepherd, one step at a time. -Streams in the Desert, Jan. 14K. I don't know how to end this so I'll just stop typing now. Thoughts? Comments?