ah. . . contentment
There is something about little animals that goes right to my soul. Pictured is an encounter I had in Bethlehem with a little lamb. As our group approached the path that led to a shaded seating area looking down over the Shepherd's fields--the place where we believe the angels announced to the shepherds that a baby King had been born that night--a young boy walked toward me, holding Rosa. As I reached to pet her, he extended her to me, that I might hold her. She snuggled . . . one of us cooed.
I could have stayed like that a long time, in the feeling of contentment that washed over me. Regularly, in these Morning Briefings, I wave the banner to remind us that contentment is possible in this life, and it is contagious. I am well aware that being stuck in the past, struggling with discouragement, possibly depression or anxiety, sometimes fear, comparison and unforgiveness too, have robbed so many of us of godly contentment.
Consider Psalm 23 again. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.1
David, the king, has chosen to be a sheep. Consider that for a moment--strange juxtaposition, is it not? link for the psalm: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2023&version=NLT
David knew a lot about the habits of sheep and how terribly needy they were because he had been a shepherd. He had kept his flock from falling into ravines, had led them to much-needed water, protected them from parasites and defended them from predators. He knew what it was to properly care for his father’s sheep; accordingly, David knew the commitment and sacrifice to be a good shepherd.
About a thousand years after David came the promised One, Jesus. One day as he was teaching, he radically claimed “I am the good shepherd.”2 That Good Shepherd then laid down his life for his sheep, and I am one of them.
When I follow the lead of this Good Shepherd,
I am not in want,
and I have within me the choice to be content.
David said, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
Might it be said this way? Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I am content.
Contentment is always a choice. Consider the following statement:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
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.”3
Paul wrote that from prison. I can never quote it without being challenged by it.
Desperately, I want to be able to say the same thing.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances . . .
Though I worry about some of what the future holds,
Though our universities are peddling dangerous lies to our young,
Though our household pay has been cut in half
Though I miss my California folk so much it hurts and I desperately
long for friends and community here in North Carolina
Though our country faces a deep divide . . .
I have learned the secret to being content. Contentment is a choice and it is learned.
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I am content ~ yes, I have everything that I need.
Note: though that is truth, I need to remind myself of it!
The Lord holds my fate in his capable hands, and he is trustworthy, so I have no need to worry or try to control things; control is an illusion anyway!
He knows the exact number of my days4--ain’t nothing gonna’ cut ‘em short.
The Good Shepherd will both lead and guide me in the ways I should go, and in my decisions too because when I lack wisdom, I will ask and he will give it to me.5
Any troubles we are facing now? They are nothing compared to joy of Glory! Friends, let’s be present, counting our blessings, thanking God for each of his graces to us, thankful for another day of breath in our lungs. Funny thing, I have noticed that when I am intentional about being thankful, contentment is a natural byproduct. Yes, contentment is possible, but you gotta learn to grab ahold of it, roll around in it even--trusting and thanking God.
Contentment is a choice and it requires mindfulness.
What do you say? Who knows? Maybe you'll get to hold a little lamb today?
"How can you not?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-qKxv_z4L0
1 - Psalm 23.1
2 - John 10.14
3 - Philippians 4.11b-12
4 - Psalm 139.16
5 - James 1.5