The Secret of Contentment: The Ordinary Way (Part 5)

The nice thing about ordinary life is that there’s so much of it. It’s all around us, all the time, so if we can actually learn to like it, we’re home free.

We’ll never lack for anything ever again. We’ll have something the Bible refers to as “great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6) and puts in the same category as godliness: contentment. 

Are you contented? Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst;” indeed “streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 4:13; 7:38). But is living water really enough for you? 

Multnomah Falls by Bethany Case

It’s not hard to tell if you’re contented, because if you are, you always have enough. Enough money, enough sleep, enough adventure, enough love to go around. If you’re not contented, the place to seek contentment is in ordinary life. Why? Just because there’s so much of it. You can have all you want. 

The only question is: Will that be enough for you? 

A woman with many children was doing laundry for the umpteenth time. In the midst of sorting a heap of dirty clothes, she found herself wondering, “Is this all there is?” Immediately she heard in her heart an answer, which she felt was from God. He said, “Yes, this is all there is, and it is enough. Do it with love, and it’s enough.”

If we tend to chafe at the ordinary, it’s because it doesn’t make us feel important. And importance is something we desperately crave. 

A man stormed into a busy hospital complaining of a possible broken finger. Informed of the long wait, he raged, “I’m a busy man––I can’t sit around here all night!” As he grew more and more abusive, the weary receptionist finally took him by the arm and marched him to the center of the waiting room. “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” she said. “This gentleman is a very busy person and he feels this qualifies him to be treated ahead of the rest of you. How do you feel about that?” 

Needless to say, the complainer decided his finger could wait. 

Most of us live ordinary lives, but ironically we think we’re important––or at least we want to think so. Yet however important we may become in the world, we’re never really sure of our importance and so we seek more and more of it. The problem with seeking importance is that, by definition, we must do so at the expense of others. To be important, we must be more important than someone else. To be very important is to be more important than many others. 

But is this the only way? Is it possible to achieve significance without competing with others and buying into the pecking order? 

The Bible thinks so. Christ died for each one of us, so we must be important. Our lives, though filled with mundanities, are worth the ultimate price. What an enigma! 

One evening after a long bike ride I was sitting on my porch, enjoying the coolness. I was also enjoying an extraordinary sense of God’s presence, which grew and grew as I focused on Him. Finally the presence felt so thick that I was convinced the Lord must want to say something. It was a pregnant silence, full of the unspoken, as though He were just waiting for me to initiate conversation. 

“What is it, Lord?” I asked. “What do you want to tell me?” 

I waited, while His presence grew and grew, so lovely, so glorious. I really wondered what He would say. It must be something very important, I thought. Perhaps some answer to my problems, some glimpse into my future, or perhaps a key to the book I’m working on. 

“What is it, Lord?” I said again. 

And suddenly the answer came: “I just want you to know how much I enjoy being with you.” 

Oh. How very nice. And I waited for more.

But no, there was no more. What?! That was all? 

Of course it was all! It was everything! Everything I could ever want. As His words sank in, His love filled me more deeply perhaps than I had ever experienced. 

Am I important? Oh yes! But far more than that, I am loved. 

Which would you rather be: important or loved? 

Next Post:  Living Life to the Full: The Ordinary Way (Part 6)

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