Ever since I got a paid gig writing blogs last month, my own blog has suffered. As Ecclesiastes says, “there’s nothing new under the sun;” the same feels true as I update you all on what’s going on here in Australia. Our furniture FINALLY arrived after three long months of waiting and we have been unpacking and trying to organize our belongings all day everyday since then.
It’s interesting to see what’s inside each one. I thought I had de-cluttered like nobody’s business. I sold what felt like half our belongings and what remained was only the most loved outfits, personal effects that are irreplaceable, and items that would be too expensive to replace here. Interestingly, after living out of six suitcases with only the necessities for a couple of months, I now realize 42 pairs of underwear and socks and 25 coffee mugs aren’t really that important after all. I can’t tell you how many hangers and shoes I have no room for in my Belmont North rental. And, that pile of paperwork that sat on my Lynnwood desk needing attention is now outdated and has no value nor importance in the Southern Hemisphere.
Although beds and outfits make life comfortable and I am certainly happy I can serve my neighbors dinner without washing dishes midway through the meal because I now have enough plates and silverware, I have come to appreciate how little we can live on if we really must. I know, I know… everyone says it. Missionaries live it. Starving kids in Africa play with sticks all day and seem perfectly content. Less is more. I’m not saying anything new.
The trick for anyone who has experienced an adjustment to having less than what she used to is to stay balanced in the long run. How do we remain generous with our money and possessions if we don’t have any? Yet, once we do, how do we live comfortably, but not extravagantly? Solomon wrote about a man who might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. He says “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecc. 1:7-9).
Yet Paul contrasts this with saying in Phillipians that he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” He knew what it was “to be in need,” and what it was “to have plenty.” He said he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Contentment is sourced by our heavenly father when we are at peace with Him. Only God can supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory.” I used to think that meant material needs (and maybe it does) but the older I get and the more “stuff” I accumulate, I realize God supplying ALL MY NEEDS is much deeper than anything we can purchase in dollars. Contentment means resting in peace when working really hard to pay the bills. Contentment is enjoying the moment with my kids when dishes and laundry need to be done. Contentment equals taking a back row seat in somebody else’s church so I can get fed and my kids can be in church even though God has called us to lead a large influential church ourselves. Contentment means hanging onto my dreams even though they seem so far away. Contentment when releasing control to understand unfair circumstances and grief. Being anxious in NOTHING but by prayer and supplication, presenting my requests to God. He promises to give peace that surpasses understanding.
Contentment means confessing John 6:35
Jesus is the Bread of Life. I come to him and I am never hungry. I believe in him, cleave to, trust in and rely on Him. I am never thirsty at any time. I am fully satisfied.
When I can confess this daily and mean it no matter my surroundings or circumstances, I have reached contentment. In the meantime, I will enjoy my old recliner and photo albums. And if you come to visit me, I will give you my California King and make you dinner in my Texas sized pots and pans.