“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12
The idea of being content has always seemed to be an unattainable state of mind for me. In theory, it should be easy. Just be happy with what you have in life right now. But as a natural achiever, I also feel as if there is always the next step. There is somewhere else to move to, some other higher level. I’ve noticed this is not only true for me.
Being surrounded by young adults, it is easy to desire what others have when we see the significant strides others are making in their careers and their relationships. Also, young adults look to those who are many seasons beyond where we are and can be jealous of the steady, lack of change pace. There is always something in someone else’s life to desire. Or as the adage goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.
The sweetest month of support raising I had was the month of April. It wasn’t the sweetest because of how much support came in or seeing God do big things through my life. It was merely because, for the first time, I truly enjoyed where I was in life. I loved support raising and talking with others about what God is doing in South Africa. I had a lot of little moments at work or with friends I could acknowledge at the moment, wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my extended season of support raising. In addition, I could feel God was going to get me to South Africa in His timing and it would be perfect.
But as the month passed, and another goal launch date passed. My only desire was to get to South Africa. I couldn’t imagine anything sweeter than finally being done with support raising and getting to buy my plane ticket out of rainy Missouri. I would imagine what it would be like to reunite with my friends and to move into my new house. All of it glittering with the hope it would be better than what I was doing right now. It started to take a toll on the way I viewed support raising and the way I talked with potential supporters. I was desperate. I just wanted to be done so I could finally be where I was supposed to be.
I didn’t realize the flaw in my thinking until I was talking to others in my life who had also been wishing for the next phase of their lives. Whether it was a new job, marriage, or having a baby, it finally dawned on me, so many of us hope and wish for the next season no matter what we have.
In one particular conversation, I remember my “wise advice” was encouraging this other person to stop trying to skip into this next season because although it was the next logical step, there was no sign the season was going to come soon. “Why are you trying to rush into a season that is going to limit you and completely change everything you are doing and can be doing right now,” I told her.
Little did I realize, I might as well have been speaking to myself. Here I was, hoping and wishing to be in full-time ministry but forgetting all the ways it would dramatically change my regular schedule. Although being in full-time ministry would mean I was getting to do what I felt like I was called to. I would also miss the freedom in each day to spend 3+ hours at a coffee shop by myself studying the word, reviewing scripture memory, and pouring into a prayer journal.
The more I thought, the more I realized how much I doubted God’s goodness and timing by considering what would be next is better for me then where I am right now.
If I genuinely believed God knew the plans He had for me and they were to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11), then why wouldn’t I fully trust if it were best for me to be in South Africa right now, then I would be.
So, if I know God has me here right now, doing exactly what I am doing, for a specific reason. What does it look like to be content?
I would argue, I don’t just want to be content but I want to rejoice. I want to experience the abundant joy because I am here right now. I want to take every opportunity to discover how God is going to be glorified because of where I am.
Practically, I think this could mean taking inventory of what would change whenever I reach full support and then with a glad heart, investing entirely into those things.
For me, this means taking advantage of the freedom I have to focus on my relationship with the Lord. It means spending time with friends enjoying the humid Midwestern summer and spending time in fellowship with people who have walked me through the highs and lows of support raising and encouraging them. I could probably come up with some more, but those are the ones are on my heart this week.
So how do we encourage others who sincerely hope for their next season of life? The verse that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 4:18:
“So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Focusing on what God is doing in and through our lives rather than the fleeting circumstances around us.
Although I am definitely not refined in this, as every morning I hope I will open my computer to an email stating all my support has been raised. I know this is something I want to continue to challenge myself in.