I am able to be content

Chasing Rainbows

And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, NASB

Chasing rainbows. Some days, many days, that is what I feel that I’m doing. Often times that is exactly what I am doing.

Contentment is wanting what I have and having an attitude of thanksgiving for the grace that has been poured upon me. But it isn’t complacency. It isn’t laziness. This is where I get tripped up. How do I live in godly contentment and still press on toward that which Christ has already laid hold of for me? I do I labor tirelessly in the areas in which I’ve been gifted and called and yet not grow tired or frustrated, feeling like I’m getting nowhere fast?

Perhaps the key was up there near the beginning—an attitude of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving implies that there is One to whom I am thankful. And maybe that gratitude isn’t simply for the ‘stuff’ I have, because, as the great king noted in Ecclesiastes, all of the pleasure resulting from his labor became to him “vanity and striving after wind.” Chasing rainbows.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting read. It mirrors the rollercoaster of life with great highs of success, and low valleys of emptiness. Through the poetry of Solomon, one tastes life in its reality. I work hard. In the end, I keep nothing. I fill my heart with pleasure. It is vanity. All things come in seasons. Ultimately all things will end.

Where is contentment in all of this? What did the wise preacher discover in his great dip into philosophy? Chapter twelve closes with this:

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Interesting, isn’t it? In all his search of happiness, for meaning, and for fulfillment, Solomon concludes that all of those pursuits are empty without the fear of God. More striking, that it is only through fearing God that one can be satisfied.

How does that connect with gratitude? God has revealed himself to me—to all people, if they will listen. The striving after happiness, this forever chasing rainbows, it doesn’t have to be vanity. With him, there is meaning and purpose. In him there is completeness and fulfillment.

How can I not be content with that?


Life, Abundantly

 I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10

Life. Pulsating, throbbing, vibrant life.  Jesus declared that was his whole reason for his visit to Earth – to give us life in abundance.

He didn’t mean life would be easy, or even that it would be pleasant.  Only that it would be full – full of Him, full of grace, full of peace, full of purpose and mission.

Some of the hardest experiences in my life have been the ones that have given it the most meaning.  I had to climb mountains that left my legs aching only to spend hours at the top under the African sun weeding rice.  I had to give birth to my first baby in a hospital where I didn’t speak the language of the doctors and nurses.  I had to flee a country I loved because of civil war, leaving behind my dearest friends and the work I had poured myself into.  None of those things were fun.  On the scale of difficulty, they ranged from annoying, to frightening, to absolute heart break.  But I wouldn’t trade any of them.  They are part of the fabric of my abundant life.  God gave me those challenges because he’d also given me a mission – to spread his message across Africa.  I was living a life of meaning, as well as one of sweat and frustration.

I’ve endured conflict and hurt at the hands of others.  I’ve had failed friendships just like you. And, I’ve found forgiveness and healing and restoration, because the God of grace has breathed his life over my hurts.

I’ve also had adventure and variety.  I’ve laughed so hard my sides ache. I’ve tasted Asian and African and South American cultures.  I’m married to a man who shares my passion for the missions and ministry.  We have two incredible kids. All these things are blessings from the abundant-life giver Himself.

Abundant life doesn’t mean abundant money.  It doesn’t mean abundant easy circumstances.  It means that through life’s storms, we have purpose.  We have passion.  And we have peace, only a faith-step away, if we will reach out and take it.

Jesus came to give us life, and to give it abundantly.