Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

My will or Thy will?

My wil or thy will

Post by: Christy Mobley

1 Samuel 8:6, “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all they say to you,  for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.'”

The Israelites were always whining and complaining wanting their own way. Their own will. They were never satisfied. They didn’t trust God to do what was best for them. They always wanted something else.  I’m sorry to say I can relate.  For most of my life I’ve been no different. Oh, I would have told you I trusted God, but still, I always thought I knew what was best.  I knew a better ending to the story. My story.

About 15 years ago (in my guesstimation) my pastor sent out an email to the members of our church. I don’t remember the exact purpose of the email but I do remember reading a few lines on prayer and God’s will that stuck in my craw. Mostly because at the time the words bewildered me.  Those words read something like this:

If you want healing, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you want safety, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need a job, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need financial help, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you are looking for peace, pray for God’s will to be done.

I recall thinking,  what about my will? What if God’s will and my will aren’t the same? What if His ending doesn’t look like mine? Doesn’t God care about what I want? 

It wasn’t long after, I decided my husband was bored with his job. (Notice, I said I decided.)  I felt he needed something more challenging, a promotion perhaps. And I circled it in prayer.  A lot of prayer.  I thought I knew what was best for him, for us. Never mind what God thought.  Not once did I pray honestly about my feelings and my struggles, or what was in my heart. Nope, instead I forged on, telling God my agenda, and asking Him to oblige with an answer.

And He did.

But it was not the answer I contrived in my mind. Nope, God loves me more than that.

Have you heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for?”

God answered my selfish prayer.

He gave me what I wanted to show me what I didn’t. 

He gave me my own way to show me how His way is better.

The next  seven years were challenging to say the least.  But God used everything that took place within those seven years to mold me for His purposes. Though God did indeed answer my prayer, the path He led me down would not have been one of my choosing. I can see now that it was necessary and it gave me a clear and personal understanding of Romans 8:28, “God  works everything for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Because it was during this trying time God showed me –

A way out of my spiritual desert.

How to be totally honest in prayer.

How to depend on Him and not on myself.

How to be joyful in all circumstances.

How His will is better than mine.

And how He is always faithful.

In the key passage from 1 Samuel, the Israelites weren’t satisfied with God and His way. They wanted human kings like all the other nations. And God gave them their human kings. He gave them what they wanted to show them what they didn’t need.

I believe it is important to lay our hearts open to our Heavenly Father and honestly tell Him our wants and desires. He wants that, but He also wants our surrender. Because at the end of the day He knows what ‘s best.  And today I know that full well.

Jesus gave us the perfect example when he prayed “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….”

Thy will not my will. Amen

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When Facebook Hurts

When Facebook Hurts

Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt hurt.

I saw the fun.
I saw the laughs.
I saw the friends.
I wasn’t there.
I wasn’t invited.
I was left out.

How do we cope when Facebook hurts you?  Because frankly, people open their lives up like books and sometimes we read into things only to feel left behind or insulted.

How do we overcome the laughs we weren’t a part of?
How do we get past the offensive words?
How do we move forward in love, when we feel hurt?
How do we let go of annoyances?

These were all things I struggled with as my heart broke a little.

I guess for me, it wasn’t just this person that hurt me, but it was all the little ways I saw I wasn’t being included.

I felt left out of the pictures, the recap comments and the moments.  I saw the smiles. I saw the joy. I saw the fun.

Where was I? How could they leave me out?

The small offenses all rushed over me.

But, then I got to thinking – have I really been pursuing others?

Because, no one is going to invite you into relationship if you aren’t available.
No one is going to welcome you to laugh, if you never welcomed them into your house.
No one is going to remember you, if you let the busyness of your day steal the good intentions of your heart.

I am so busy.

These Facebook pains walk me right up to truth –
the Lord loves relationship.

They also remind me that I can’t control what others do. They can do what they do, but God will always be here to help me through. People will hurt me. They will abandon me. They will drop me at the door. They will write things that offend. They will insult too.

But, we can find refuge in the Lord. We can seek his ways. So can you. Let’s open up to take risks, because we are kept under the safety of his wing – kept close, like a protected child.

Under his protection, he will show us how to act.
He will instruct us in truth.
He will arm us with the right mentality.

He releases us from the power of others’ insulting actions, so we may find freedom in the power of his unending love.

Frankly, we all offended Jesus. We actually offend him daily. We insult, we overlook, we leave him out.

But, does he stop loving us? Does he stop pursuing us? Does he still call us into relationship?

We prompts us to extend grace, just as he has.

So, let’s remember:

1.  We are who Christ says we are. Our identity is secure in Christ, not dependent on Facebook.
2.  We can’t expect to be pursued when we are not pursuing relationship.
3.  People are quick to speak and slow to think. We can be like this too.
4.  Jesus shows us unending grace; we can fall into his grace to extend grace.
5.  If we can let go of how others act on us, we can grab hold of how Christ wants us to act to others.
6.  The more we keep our eyes – and heart – on what is true, noble, upright and of good report, the more peace and joy that will be ours. Offenses lose their power.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)

It strikes me that we can let go of insults, injury and inadequacies, when we grab hold of truth, God’s truth.

Because, truly, there is only one book that defines us – and it’s not Facebook.

Is Your 1-Word Resolution Holding You Back? (Linkup)

Resolution holding you back

When I found myself getting irritated at the wide pronouncements of one-word resolutions, I started to wonder, “What’s my issue?”

How can someone not like words like:
Deeper?
Embrace?
Love?

Why am I so frustrated as others passionately pursue the Lord?

Sure, I picked a word – it’s “patience.” It was wisely given to my by a friend.

Patience in writing.
Patience with my husband.
Patience with my kids.
Patience in growth.
Patience in relationships.

Yes, I see the value.

But, what I can’t handle seeing – at the end of my year – is failure. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see the shame, regret, fear and embarrassment tied into that. Why should I set myself up for this?

So I find, it’s simpler to get annoyed and to avoid.
It’s easier to hate than to embrace.
It’s safer to go protected than to become dejected.

So, I push goals, dreams and hopes out of the way to protect a heart that could break along the way.

Truth is, I know I will fail in many ways.

I won’t be patient. I will get irritated. I will blow up at my kids and probably my husband. I will drop the ball. I will mess up. I just know it – and I hate that.

I hate that I can’t reach out to all I want to be – and grab hold of it.

And, underneath it all, I guess this is what really aggravates me about 1-word resolutions.  We will all fail in our own way.  We will all do the exact opposite of what our 1-word is.

Good luck on that 1-word friends!

For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)

And, he is not content with stagnant hearts that hide from his life-giving, love-producing, purpose-provoking truth.

So he says to me, “Kelly, running from failure is running from me.”

And, who can argue with that?

Failure is the beginning of something new.

Failure is the meeting point of love.
Failure is the hidden treasure – we let go of self and grab hold of Christ.
Failure is the heart of growth.
And the starting point of hope.

Jesus doesn’t stand as a judge of 1-word resolutions.
He doesn’t demand a 1-year illusion – here today and gone tomorrow.
He is not a master of confusion.
Ready to throw us into seclusion.

This is not our Lord. He never withholds love –
and he doesn’t shame us based on failures.

In this, I realize our resolutions don’t stand as a barrier to his love –
but as a conduit for it. 

I realize if I stop aiming to please him, I can start aiming to just behold him.
Because a student best receives, when she isn’t trying to do things her own way.

failed resolutions

Deeply, so deeply, I want to remember:

  • We are safe in his sacrifice. Held tightly, cupped in his loving hands.
  • Secure. So secure in our position as children of the most high King.
  • In the safety of his love – and the finality of his sacrifice – we can embrace grace and all the gifts extended through it.

A grace that doesn’t stop at our failings.
A love that is never given to be taken away.
An eternal position that can never be snatched.
A God that doesn’t give to steal away.

What kind of God would that be?

Truly, all wrath is gone.
All that remains is love.

Because of Jesus, I am safe – safe to move forward in perfect love. Love that casts out all my fear. Love that conquers all.  Love that makes me an overcomer. Love that let’s the Spirit of God pour out from me. I can’t even comprehend the start and end of this grace.

So, the Lord just says to me…

Patience, Kelly. Patience.
You are my work in progress.
It is not you that is at work – but it is me.
At the proper time, you will be exalted.
Do you trust me?
In my good time (which may well be more than a year), you will be patient.
You are my work, my craftsmanship, my love.”

And, in these truths, I can rest. I can rest because there is no condemnation left for me. It’s gone. It is gone for me and it is gone for you.

So for now, it just becomes a journey to his destination. In his timing. In his way. Until the day until he flings open the gate to welcome in his new creation – that he made me to be.

Until then, I will rely on him during the process of being patient.

And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 JB)

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How to Go with Jesus

How to Go with Jesus

Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.

Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.

In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?

Do I send love?
Life?
Encouragement?
Empowerment?
Peace?
Joy?

Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?

Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.

And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.

My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.

I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?

When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.

Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.

Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.

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Unload the Weight of Achievement (Linkup)

Weight of achievement
The weight of performance and achievement almost led me right up to the doorstep of death. But, I guess this shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering God does say the wages of sin are death (Ro. 6:23).
I just could not do enough, be enough or feel good enough.

Each failure seemed to add more weight to by back:
Try, fail. More weight.
Work, get nowhere. More weight.
Achieve, go unrecognized. More weight.
Accomplish, but desire more. More weight.

My body was at a breaking point. I couldn’t handle it; I couldn’t cope.

Because if you’re an achiever – and you don’t achieve –
you’re really just a failure in training.

If you’re an achiever – who comes in second place –
you are really just a loser without a cause.

If you’re an achiever – who achieved-
you’re really only as good as your last achievement.

Striving and perfectionism waged war in my life and led me to become a dying frame of an anorexic girl. They led me to seek refuge in selfishness, bitterness and depression.

All my work to gain love, had only left me feeling – unloved.

But, Christ is doing a mighty work in my life as I have relinquished control. More and more, he is helping me see that achievement, based on self, is one of the main requirements of the devil.

Google definitions:

a·chieve·ment
əˈCHēvmənt
noun
  1. a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.
sur·ren·der
səˈrendər
verb
  1.  to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

Achievement that is not based in a response of obedience to the Gods’ authority, is obedience to the wrong authority.

This authority of the unseen world, loves to see our hearts inclined to self-authority. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other… (Mt. 6:24)

Whom do you follow?
What do you follow?

When we struggle against achievement, we go arm to arm with God to fight for authority.
When we struggle with achievement, we stand up and say, I can do it better than you.
When we struggle with achievement, we see ourselves – and look away from God.

It boils down to pride.

And, it’s no wonder it feels like it may break our backs.

Because Jesus has already carried this load and it is no longer ours to carry. His body was already broken for you and for me.

The price has been paid. It is finished. We are free from the heavy burdens of self-sufficiency, because Christ is 100% sufficient.

He calls us to unload and let go, by saying:

– My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

– For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

– Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mt. 11:28-29)

He calls us to freedom in him.
He calls us to rest in his ways.
He calls us to trust by faith.
He calls us to follow his will.
He calls us to life in Him.
He calls us to prayer with hope.
He calls us to seek his ways.
He calls us to follow his truth.
He calls us to find peace in his leading.

Here we are safe under the right authority – as we submit to the one who will protect us, guide us and help us.

Christ has already done the work.

The law has been completely fulfilled. The grace has been completely poured out. The condemnation has been completely removed.

I no longer have to struggle to make the world pleased with Kelly, because God is well pleased with Kelly.
I no longer have to be beholden to my own ways, because Jesus is the only way.
I no longer have to fear the outcomes of others, because my outcome is secure – eternity awaits!

Just drop the weight! It feels so good. Why carry around a back full of loaded bricks? Why not unload them into the arms of Christ?  This way he can instruct you and guide you as you build your earthly and eternal house – brick by brick by brick – according to his will.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

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Welcome Jesus!

Welcome Jesus

Welcome Jesus!

It’s not pretty. It’s not always whole. It’s often aching. It’s needing help. It can feel so dark.

But, my heart is open to you. It’s open to the work that you want to do. It’s open to your will. It’s open to your desires for my life.

Don’t let me close my heart to you Lord. I will miss you. Don’t let me let you go unwelcomed.

Because you are what makes me.
You are what lifts me.
You are what gives my life a pulse.
When you are teaching me, instructing me and leading me, I am at one with you your heart.

You are a perfect visitor.
You take residence in an awe-inspiring way.
You don’t demand my service.
You don’t look at me with a judging eye.
You don’t wonder why I am not a better welcomer.

Instead, you actually welcome me into your heart.  You welcome me into your ways.

I think I am giving – but it is actually YOU who gives.

You are the gracious host, because as I seek you, you let me come closer and closer to your heart, your ways and your safety. As I knock at your door, you welcome my heart to find safe refuge in you. This is where power is held. This is where your glory is found.

You teach me what love is.
To love others before myself.
To open a door to others in need.
To lift another who has fallen down.
To bring truth to others who feel lost.

Let me never shut the door to your love – because you never shut your love to me.

Let all of my heart be ready to welcome all of you – for it is only then that I will discover that you bring something far greater than a housewarming gift – you bring you. And all of you, is more than enough for all of me – because your grace changes all of me!

Pursuing Peace

Pursuing Peace

I walked out the door in a hurry. Mostly because for the last ten minutes my husband repeatedly told me to get out.

About this time last year I celebrated my birthday. I asked for a pedicure – with the unspoken word “alone” embedded in the message. Luke granted my request with an eager heart and threw in a “take the whole day” cherry on top. So, when the clock turned to 8:30 a.m. the morning of my birthday, and I was still in the house, Luke started pushing me out.

But when I shuffled outside, the limousine parked behind my car brought me to a screeching halt.

“Luuuuuke,” I yelled on my way back inside the house, “What is going on?”

With a mischievous smile he let me in on the plan he’d been working on for days now. A full-day girls get away to shop, eat and relax at the spa.

There I sat. No kids, dishes, laundry or list of to-dos. No demands to meet. No details to arrange. Nada. All I had to do was breathe. So I did. I took a big, deep breathe. I smiled and burrowed back in my chair. The stillness spelled P-E-A-C-E.

That two minutes, or so, was awesome ….

But before the driver could make one turn I put the hamster back on the wheel in my brain and let him loose.

Is he going to turn in front of that car? I better buckle up. And so it began. The rest of the ride up I balked from time to time. What is he doing? How fast is he going? Is he texting and driving?!

I could hear Luke’s voice in my head begging me to relax. You’re missing the whole point.

Decision time. Luke wrapped peace and pampering in a shiny black car and laid it in the driveway. All I had to do was get into the limousine. And I did. But once that door shut behind me, it was now up to me. I had to choose to enjoy the gift.

And my eyebrows raise at the thought: I can actually create my own state of tension and exhaustion. Anywhere. Anytime.

My awareness promoted at least a fight to put the hamster in his place. At the spa they soaked me, scrubbed me, peeled and painted me. I left exfoliated and rejuvenated.

Then the day after the spa happened. In a nutshell: Total anarchy.

The kids held a secret midnight meeting and decided to try to unseat me from my position of authority over them. It’s the only logical explanation for what went on here. Kicking. Screaming. The mother of all melt downs (by me and them).

And I giggle, because I’m thinking the same thing you are. What does this have to do with peace? And please don’t imagine this crazy house of people with hands joined singing “Amazing Grace” as we lay down our troubles and dish out hugs. Not even close.

But as the day wore on I noticed something inexplicable …. a smile. On my face and theirs.

Somehow, after a day so treacherous it prompted Luke to proclaim renewed confidence in his decision to have no more children, I mustered a smile. Even a laugh.

Stress in the limo while I ride to the spa. Peace in the kitchen while all of my little blessings fight over where to sit. This seems backwards, right? What gives? And then I realized,

Peace is not an arranged place or set of circumstances; it is an intentional position of the heart.

It’s the difference between my toddler standing in front of his daddy crying and screaming and stomping his feet, and this …

photo-72

A head rested on a solid shoulder. A storm calmed underneath a strong arm. A little boy secure in his daddy’s grip.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, … Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:15-16 (ESV)

Strife can strike. Anywhere. Anytime. Or Peace can rule. Anywhere. Anytime. With His word in your heart and a His song on your lips, you make the call. I pick peace!

Blessed to spend time with you today, Katy

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, and 5 teams later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!

 

See & Seize God Opportunities

Seize God Opportunities

Soaked, two kids were packed under my arms.
When angry kids are in tow it’s never easy to move the cattle.
Rain makes it even more precarious.
So, I kept a singular focus on the car and ran with all my might.

I had no idea that this “rain dash” was set to give me a clear lesson on how to see and seize God opportunities in my own life…

No sooner did I lock them into their carseats than I noticed my daughter’s pink boot was gone.

Can’t they just keep their shoes on! 

Along our 4-block mad dash, the stinkin’ boot was lost. Anger and irritation welled up in me.

I stood, in the rain, feeling like a sopping mess – and probably looking like one too.

I wanted to give up. To shut down. To let the rain take control.  So, when I saw a grey shadow approaching, embarrassed, I kept my head down. I tried to divert my eyes. I wanted to hide under the car…until, I noticed something in his hands…

…something pink.

This man stepped into the rain – to minister to my pain.
He saw my plight – and was determined to make things right.
He knew it was the right thing to do – and he handed me the shoe.

He transformed an about-to-lose-it-moment into an I’m-so-blessed-moment.

Because he let go of convenience – and stepped into rainy inconvenience he made the difference. Because he looked beyond comfort, to see – not his iPhone, his to-do list or his worries – he saw the opportunity – a struggling, frustrated mom.

Willing.
Ready.
Available to help.

Am I this way?

It got me to thinking, how often do I miss God’s opportunities because I am too focused on insecurities, worries and incapabilities? How often am I too focused on my phone, destination or tasks to see another?

When we can’t see past ourselves, we can’t see others.

When we can’t see others, we can’t see their pain.

When we can’t see hurts, we can’t love hurts.

We walk right past.  Head down. We don’t see. We miss it. We miss out.

When I’m so busy doing, I can’t be seeing. Seeing another in need. Seeing a selfless act. Seeing God’s will.

I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to offer help to a hopeless person. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to love a cancer-filled woman. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself that I miss the chance to hold hands with one in agony.

Because God has created me for more. He has created you for more.  He has created us to love, to give, to run into the rain and to sacrifice for others.  When we step outside of ourselves, we step into purpose, into joy and into meaning.  There is nothing better.

He has given us gifts to encourage and love. Will we use them? He has joy within the embrace of a hug. Will we feel it? He has hurting souls right in our midst – on purpose. Will we see them?

If we can just keep our eyes up! If we can just be willing, ready and available – then we will see.  We will see the great chances the Lord has set before us to sacrifice and to step out of our comfort zones to love another.  We will see the world through new light.

This is the opportunity the Lord has set before us:

…The LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting…that He may be glorified. (Is. 61:1-3)

Lord, let us be vehicles of your good news. Let us see lives changed, hearts healed, hope renewed, then we will see lives improved. We will see your hand, your will and your glory at work.

I so want that.

I wan’t to be the person holding the pink boot for another sopping wet super frustrated, tired mom, don’t you?

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Counting Gifts Instead of Problems

Good gifts from above

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Christmas vacation came to an abrupt end as my husband and I listened to water gush underneath the bathroom floor. It wasn’t just coming out of the drainage pipe. No, it sounded like a waterfall beneath our feet.

The longer we stood there waiting for the noise to stop, the more dollar signs I saw adding up in my head. This was the second plumbing issue we’d encountered during Christmas break, and we still had not received the bill from the first service call.

As my mind raced with endless possibilities, I sent up a frail prayer hoping the damage would be minimal. Although I avoided complaining outwardly, I inwardly assumed the posture of punished child.

Why did this have to happen right after Christmas, when we’d just spent money on travel and gifts? Why did these types of things always happen in multiples?

Potty training a high-maintenance, strong-willed child added to my list of stresses. A struggling family member kept me awake at night.

As my inner monologue rehearsed all of these things, it sounded like a six-year-old whining. But the thought that disturbed me the most was one I’ve seen countless times from followers of Christ when times get hard: Why was God punishing me? What had I done?

Had we missed a tithe check, neglected acts of service or turned a blind eye to someone in need? As my mind sunk further into a downward cycle of self-pity, I knew my thoughts were not from the Creator. I was in the midst of a battle of the mind, and I needed to grasp onto the light of Truth.

I stole a few moments by myself and counted gifts. I thanked God that I have a husband who is handy and able to make repairs when times get rough. I thanked him that we live in an area where we have resources available to us. As I walked our dogs, I praised God for the beautiful weather we came home to the previous day. But the further I went down a rocky, uneven path, the more one question kept repeating itself in my head.

Why do I perceive negative circumstances as punishment from God, but often fail to recognize blessings as God’s love?

I reflected on everything I love about my life on a given day. A song that comes on the radio at just the right time. The way my three-year-old throws himself into hugs, his whole body wrapped around you. A beautiful sunrise that turns the entire horizon a deep shade of orange.

How could I not look at each of these gifts and think, “Wow, God must really love me”? And if I recognized each of these blessings as an expression of love from my Creator, how would it change me?

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

He does not change, friends. He doesn’t have a mood swing and decide to clog up your drain. He doesn’t get hormonal and decide not to listen to your prayer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

When he allows us to face trials, it is not because he is angry with us, but to draw us to Him and refine us. Each struggle we face is an opportunity to build character.

Tonight, as I sit in the soft glow of the Christmas tree, I’m still counting. I’m counting not only the gifts he’s given me, but the ones I know will come. Because he’s that good.

As the list grows, I feel his love swelling up inside of me. He loves me so much. And he loves you, too.

So today, as your brewing your coffee and listening to your favorite tune on the radio, remember he created this day just for you. Let truth of that realization sink in and fill you with a love so deep it overflows.

 

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.

When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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10 Biblical Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment

Grab hold of contentment

My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.

My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.

I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.

Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes?   He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.

His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.

How much of our attitude is just like his?  One of discontentment?

How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s?  How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?

What does God think about this?

It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own.  We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.

The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it.

He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.

Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”?  Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.

10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:

10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t.  Why?  We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.

9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.

Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ).  However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.

While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)

7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods.  God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)

6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.

If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short.  He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.

Frankly, we may have less than another today.  But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow.  If we are always playing the comparison game  – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa.  Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle?  It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)

4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.

He will provide for our deepest needs.  We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)

3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.

In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface.  It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)

2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.

“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security.  What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)

1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.

The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted.  The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)

We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift.  We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.

Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting.  She only held a drop of milk.  His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.

What has the Lord placed in front of you?  Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift? 

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