Contentment is one of those subjects that is easy to talk about but hard to live out. Let’s say that my neighbor buys himself a brand new Corvette. The car is “please notice me” red. The interior is “please don’t get me dirty” white. The engine is the factory option “you can’t unrun me” high performance. The wheels are “you can’t afford me” aluminum. And to top it all off he starts wearing a shirt that reads: “Real men drive Corvettes.” Well, how long do you think it will take me to become discontented with my “it’s all I’ve got” Subaru? Not very long.
I want you to take a personal survey. No one is paying attention except you and God. Ask yourself this question: Is there anything in my life right now with which I am not content? Perhaps it’s your car. Perhaps it’s your home. Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s your financial situation.
As I was growing up, my dad would say to me on numerous occasions, “Russell, you can’t be satisfied with anything.” I remember how I always chafed at that accusation because I honestly didn’t believe that it was true. I used to think to myself, “No, he’s wrong. I can be content. I just can’t be content with what I’ve got to work with right now.”
Unfortunately, as I’ve grown older I’ve been forced to learn that my father was right about my contentment level. If it was a thermostat it would be set very, very low. It doesn’t take much to get me to looking over the hills and thinking, “Oh, how much better my life would be if I was over there.” If God had let me move every time I had a whim to do so, my vehicle wouldn’t be a Subaru; it would be a U-HAUL. As for Tonya and the boys, I guess they would feel like a military family that moves from one base to another, never staying anywhere long enough to put down roots and build lasting relationships.
Somewhere years ago I read a silly little line that has always helped me. It goes like this: “If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence it’s because it’s growing over a septic tank.” That line has often come to my mind when God has turned down my latest urge to bolt and run and seek my fortune elsewhere. Have I got problems in my current location? Yes. Would I be problem free if I moved to that latest place that has caught my fancy? Nope. It would just be a new set of problems, perhaps even worse than my current ones.
You can learn some things by watching childrens’ television. I can’t remember if I was babysitting Ryan or Royce, but one of them was watching a kids’ show one day when a thought-provoking cartoon segment came on. It was about a little girl who lived in an apartment building in the big city. Every morning she would look out her window and stare longingly at the building with the golden windows that sat on the other side of the city. Oh how she wanted to live in that beautiful building! So one morning she made up her mind to go and see the building up close. She got herself dressed and headed out to find it. All day long she searched and searched, but she couldn’t find the building with the golden windows. Then, late in the afternoon, just as she was about to lose all hope, she turned around and there it was. But it was way over on the other side of town. So she ran and ran and ran and ran until she finally arrived at the building. Only then did she notice that it was the building in which lived. She thought, “How is this possible?” Suddenly the answer came to her: The sun which cast its light upon the one building in rising in the morning was casting its light upon her building in setting in the evening.
Now why am I telling you all this? I’m doing it to help you realize that where you are right now is a wonderful place if it is where God wants to be. Does He ever relocate people and lead them to make changes in their lives? Certainly, but that’s a whole other post for a whole other time. Right now I’m saying that if He has you living in a certain place, working a certain job, maintaining a certain financial level, and driving a certain car, you need to learn to see the golden windows in those things. They are there. You just have to recognize them.
I’ll leave you now with some words from the apostle Paul. They are words that I know very well because they have haunted me many a time. The haunting stems from the fact that I still can’t truthfully make the statement that Paul makes. In Philippians 4:11, he says:
…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
I can’t speak for you, but I haven’t completely “learned” that yet. Without doubt, my classes are still in session. I’m hoping, though, that I can earn that degree one day. Until then I need to keep looking for those golden windows of where God has me.