I write a lot about contentment.
It is something that I highly value and believe to be a key to happiness and well being. It is nothing less than a gift from God to wake up and love what you already have. There is peace and freedom with this kind of gratefulness that is worth pursuing.
But I had a realization today.
Sometimes I am content with things that I shouldn’t be.
Just as I am learning contentment in the areas of my life where I am prone to perfectionism, so I also need to learn when a good healthy dose of discontentment is needed.
Here are a few from my life. Maybe you can relate.
Sometimes I am content with a remote, rather business-like relationship with God. Sometimes I am okay with just going through the motions of Christianity. There are times when going to church, singing songs, going to mid-week meetings and serving in Sunday school feels like enough for me, even though it isn’t. In these times I can feel close to God, but I am actually further away than I know, following a second-hand lifestyle instead of the voice of my Shepherd.
In the middle of one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, Jesus speaks these words, I have loved you, just as the Father has loved me. Remain, abide, stay in that love and live there. (John 15.9)
It is possible for me to live every day in the living reality of God’s love.
It is also very possible, even likely, that I can regularly miss out on it altogether because I allow myself to be content with less.
The problem is that I am easily satisfied with all sorts of things other than Jesus. I am by nature a girl who loves to have fun. I am never happier than when I am spending time with those I love, eating out or having coffee, playing games or watching football. I love trips and holidays and special occasions. I love shopping and a good box set. They fill me up. And if I let them, they will keep me full and satisfied and completely oblivious to the call from Jesus to come close and know Him.
John Piper says, “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
I am always in danger of being content with small things. They can be good things, even wonderful things. They can be gifts from God’s hand. But I have to remind myself to enjoy them in a way that moves me to worship the Giver, not the blessings themselves.
Because in my life, this satisfaction with small things always results in satisfaction with a powerless faith. I have this tendency to accept defeat in my life, to habitually keep fighting the same battles over and over again. It is embarrassing how easily I become comfortable with fruitless prayer or a sporadic, feelings-led relationship with God’s Word.
My problem is that I am too easily pleased.
But it’s not okay, it is not enough.
It is a weak, pasty version of my destiny and it falls very far short of what Christ bought for me on the cross.
The Bible tells me that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives inside of me! Do I really believe that? If I do, then I should expect to see God’s power at work every day of my life, changing hopeless situations, bringing answers and victory where there is bondage and defeat. I should expect healing and wholeness and answers to my questions.
And I should become very uncomfortable with any other kind of Christianity.
There is a holy discontentment that should keep me up at night. It is a dissatisfaction with anything that falls short of God’s will in my life. There is a Godly frustration I need to cultivate that won’t rest until victories are won. I need to get mad when the enemy steals from people I love or when he whispers lies to my heart. I need to be offended when the advance of Gods kingdom is thwarted. It should matter to me.
My prayer today is that God would make me a woman who is consumed with this kind of discontentment, who is utterly dissatisfied with defeat, stagnation or status quo. I pray He would fill me with gratefulness for everything He gives and discontentment with even a drop less than His perfect will.
May God bless us with good friends, loving families and fun. But, may only a life filled up with testimonies of the goodness and power of God ever satisfy.