Oh to be Content

moving1So if we have enough food and clothing,
let us be content.

1 Timothy 6:8 NLT

I carried them out by the handfuls—a seemingly endless task.

Our move was complete—except for moving our clothes. Although my wife doesn’t buy fancy clothes—nor buy them from expensive stores, she loves new outfits…or at least new to her. Her closet brimmed with pants, dresses, and blouses.

Of course my closet didn’t look much better. The difference is I don’t buy new clothes. I don’t have to because my wife and mother do. By the time I finished emptying my closet, one car was full. Then I started on my wife’s. This filled the second car and taxed my nerves.

This is ridiculous, I thought. We both have enough clothes to wear for two months without washing. I thought of the old days when houses didn’t have closets. No need for them. As time progressed, closets were included, but they were small and dark. Not much to put in there. People had one or two Sunday go-to-meeting outfits and maybe a few pair of pants and shirts for work. And in developing or impoverished countries, this is still the case.

Paul’s instructions to young Timothy was for him to be content with food and clothing. I suppose we should throw shelter in the mix. Perhaps Paul takes for granted we’re smart enough to know we must have protection from the elements. But how much clothing or food?

When I was a teenager, contentment meant name brand jeans—Levis. It also entailed a certain brand of tennis shoes—Converse. And when it came to a bicycle, it had to have high handle bars and a banana seat. Later, my contentment was measured by larger things with higher price tags. I’m certainly not high maintenance, but neither am I satisfied with a Spam sandwich every night and two pairs of clothes.

But true contentment isn’t measured by things—or even power, notoriety, or recognition. Contentment is found in a restored relationship with my Creator, followed by my trusting Him to meet all my needs—not my wants. Since He is all-knowing, He knows what I need—along with how much of it. I don’t have to have mounds of anything; I do need mounds of His love and mercy.

Find contentment in a close and growing relationship with Christ. Nothing else will satisfy.

A Living Will

willAnd as it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment.

Hebrews 9:27 KJV

Conversations in a physician’s waiting room can be interesting and run the gamut.

As my wife and I sat in the waiting room, waiting for her to be called back for her colonoscopy, we listened to the various conversations. One between an older man, his son, and the receptionist. The receptionist called the man’s son to the window to answer some questions his father had omitted when filling out his paperwork.

“Does he have a living will?” she asked.

“Do you have a living will?” the son asked his father.

“Yes, I want to live,” the man responded.

The receptionist and son concluded he didn’t have a living will—and didn’t even know what one was. His anxiety about the procedure was evident, and, as my wife later learned, the doctors didn’t do everything they had intended because of it.

The writer of Hebrews makes a pointed reminded to his readers: everyone is going to die and judgment will follow. Sobering thoughts. Not ones I enjoy thinking about, but ones I must entertain.

A living will is important if I don’t want to be kept alive by artificial means—sometimes leaving one on life support and in a vegetative state. From my family’s experience with my father, we discovered a living will isn’t enough. A DNR (do not resuscitate) order is also necessary since doctors can override a living will.

Having a normal will is also essential if I don’t want the state to take my possessions or distribute them in a way I wouldn’t approve of. Having a simple will drawn up is inexpensive and can even be done through online legal services.

More important is the preparation I make for my eternity—not for the comfort of those I leave behind. I will not live forever, and I cannot know the date of my death. But I can know whether or not I’m prepared. Trusting Christ as my Savior and living in obedience to His commands are the only ways to prepare. Doing so re-establishes the relationship sin broke and fits me for heaven. Like the man in the physician’s office, I want to live—but I also know I’m going to die.

Take care of those you’ll leave behind, but make sure you’re prepared for what’s ahead.

Satisfied

farmHe makes the whole body fit together perfectly.
As each part does its own special work,
it helps the other parts grow,
so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 NLT

One chose to stay on the farm; the other chose city life.

When my mom was a junior in high school, she chose to leave her family farm and marry my dad. Her new life would take her away from her country upbringing and plant her in cities for the remainder of her life. Mom’s sister married a Navy man but chose to build their home next to her parent’s and remain on the family farm—a place she stayed until her death.

The old homeplace was sold for a negligent amount—and it seemed the same would happen to my aunt’s home. But her oldest son stepped in and decided he and his wife would make it their retirement home. All the hunting, fishing, and golf he could stand. It’s refreshing to know the home will remain in the family.

I always envied my cousins, growing up with open land all around them. Hunting, fishing, romping through the woods. Having pets wasn’t a problem. Leash laws didn’t exist. Being able to raise chickens, cows, hogs, and anything else they wanted without having to wonder where they’d put them or if the smell would offend the neighbors. They lived a very carefree down-to-earth lifestyle.

Because Mom and Dad chose the city life, I had to endure it as well. Though it has its conveniences, I still miss the open land and the perks that come with country living.

I’ve also been known to envy those God is using in ways I wish He’d use me. Paul reminded the early believers that the church was like a body. Each part has a special function, and it is fitted together perfectly. When one piece is out of whack, the entire body is affected.

Curbing my jealousy is an ongoing lesson God is teaching me. Instead of envying what He is doing in other believer’s lives, I enjoy what He’s doing in mine and rejoice in what He’s doing in theirs. I’m not in competition but in cahoots with other believers. Our job is not to fuss and fight but to work together to accomplish God’s work in this world. He gives us unique opportunities and personalities. Even when I share the same gift as another person, I will use it differently.

Rather than envying someone else’s gift, use yours to fulfill God’s plan for you.

Flying Low

cropdusterBut the Lord came down to look at the city
and the tower the people were building.

Genesis 11:5 NLT

They popped over the tree tops and whizzed along the nape of the field.

When I was a young lad, crop dusters were common where flat farmland was. Fields were planted with cotton, corn, and soybeans. Laws preventing certain chemicals—that we now know cause cancer and other diseases, had not been passed. So farmers and crop dusters spread cotton poison to protect their crops.

Visiting my grandfather’s farm and sitting on the front porch—watching planes crop dust the neighboring fields, was one of my favorite activities. From out of nowhere, the plane would appear at tree top level, drop to just above the cotton, drop its load, and then pull up just before reaching power lines, homes, or trees. Enduring the stench of the cotton poison was almost more than I could bear, but it was worth it to see this acrobat’s antics.

There was a time long ago when God came low. When a number of people got together and decided they would build the Tower of Babel. Seemingly an innocent task…until you read the rest of the story. Doing so was about selfishness and pagan worship. God dropped a load on them. Not poison but the confusion of their languages and thus the end of their project.

A few thousand years later, God came low again. This time when He allowed His Son to take on human flesh and die for humanity’s sins. But He didn’t stop with that. After Jesus ascended back into heaven, God sent His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the church was born. The psalmist had it right when he said God delights in every detail of their lives (Psalm 37:23).

As I delighted in watching the crop dusters fly low, so I enjoy knowing God flies low into my life’s experiences. And not only mine, but everyone’s who will call on Him. He’s never too busy, nor is He ever unconcerned. What concerns me—no matter how insignificant, concerns my Creator. He has the ability to come down for my needs and everyone else’s at the same time. I don’t have to take a number or wait in line. My God flies so low I can reach up and touch His grace, mercy, and assistance at any time I choose.

Let God fly low into every detail of your life.