I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself (Philippians 4:11, CSB).
Friend to Friend
I recently learned a lesson that involved sharp knives, a little shouting and a lot of heat. Thankfully, all of this happened on a screen. As I watched an episode of Chef’s Table, the featured chef described going far away only to realize what he wanted most had been right in front of him all along. After he comes back home he says something like, “This place has always been the same. It’s just that now I see it differently.”
I kept thinking about those words. It’s so tempting for us to say, “If only I lived somewhere else.” “If only I had a more exciting job.” “If only I were married.” “If only I were single.” “If only I had a bigger house.” “If only I could be more like her.” And there is a time for packing the moving van, sending out the resume or letting the friend set up the blind date. But I think often we believe a myth that whatever is different than what we have must be better—or maybe I’m the only one.
We see the flaws and cracks in what’s right in front of us. We see the weaknesses and stains in the carpet. We don’t see those messes in others’ Facebook pictures or vacation albums so we’re tempted to think, “Having what they do must be the key to happiness.” Thankfully we don’t actually need an extreme life makeover. As Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself” (Philippians 4:11 CSB).
I thought I wanted to marry that cute boy in fifth grade only to thank God I didn’t. I thought I’d like a busy schedule packed full of events only to realize quiet was where I heard the whisper of Jesus. Over and over I’ve decided “this is what I want” only to understand that what I really longed for was entirely different in ways only God knew. He has protected me from myself more times than I can count. At the time I probably whined but now I’m grateful.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it” says the classic hymn Come Thou Fount. Sometimes it takes a bit of wandering for our hearts to come back to what’s true. I think the most extraordinary discovery in that process is to realize the life we want is the one we’re already living. Not because it is perfect or flawless or without struggles but because it is the one that truly belongs to us. And within that to discover the person we want to be is ourselves, even though we’re in progress and will be all our days.
There’s a freedom in embracing where we are and who we are in this present moment that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a freedom that has been won for us through blood, sweat, tears and a cross. It’s a freedom worth fighting for, worth pursuing, worth celebrating.
Dear God, I believe that You work all things for good. Even when something else seems better, I’m choosing to trust that You know the end from the beginning and You don’t make mistakes. Spirit, empower me to embrace what’s right in front of me and glorify You with these days.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever prayed for something, only to later thank God for His “no” or a “not right now”?
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Thank you Holly for a beautiful and timely message. Even at 61, I still find myself occasionally being envious of others wealth, talents, and homes. As you so eloquently stated, embracing the life He has given us through His blood, sweat, and tears is the only true path to joy and fulfillment. May the Lord continue to bless you in your work. Sari