A Special Secret

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I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation  

Philippians 4: 12

Paul didn’t have a particularly easy life. It may not have gone the way he planned. Maybe he thought following Christ would make his life easier. I mean, don’t we think that at times?  Paul was in jail as he wrote this letter, facing probable death if he wasn’t released. He could have twiddled his thumbs, he could have slept the day away, complained, grumbled, started riots or felt sorry for himself or gotten angry at God and indignant about the things he was going through because after all, he was doing this stuff for Christ.

But he didn’t. He wrote letters to the people he wasn’t able to hang out with, people that for all he knew, he would never see again. He had no way of knowing that those letters would be read today, cherished today as a large part of the New Testament.

We all go through times where our life isn’t what we thought it would be. Oh, we may never be imprisoned for our faith, but let’s be honest, somewhere between Once Upon A Time and they lived happily ever after, things can go horrible awry.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in place that wasn’t our choice, didn’t fit the trajectory we had for a life?  We have choices of what to do while waiting for the way out.

Paul tells us he discovered a secret. A secret that got him through shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonments. A secret he wasn’t born knowing; it had to be learned in the ups and downs of life, but one that sustained him through the good and bad. He learned the secret of contentment.  Contentment may be defined as being more than ok on the inside in spite of what is taking place on the inside. Having peace and rest in me regardless of the turmoil outside of me. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It behooves us then to know this secret and fortunately for us, he shares that secret with us:

 “for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power”  

Philippians 4: 13

The best part about this is I don’t have to do this myself; I don’t have to conjure up contentment. I don’t have to fake it til I make it. I just turn my eyes to Jesus, the One who lives in me, the One who gives me strength and power to carry on contentedly, knowing that the ultimate outcome of this present situation is in His hands, in His timing and will ultimately be for my good and His glory.

pic credit: lockerdome.com

Day Planner

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Saying no is a healthy thing.  It’s also a relatively uncomfortable thing to do. So much emphasis is put on getting stuff done. Day planners promise fulfilled days if we can just get organized. Our lives will run so much better if we only learn to plan every minute, every hour of our day and check and double check to make sure we are on track. Ugh!

I don’t know about you, but I like blank pages in my day planner. I don’t get many of those, but I like them just the same. I read yesterday that a very successful CEO of some company puts two things on his day as priority. He writes them down the night before. He suggested the readers might be more successful in reaching goals if we followed suit. It might be good advice. Two things, how hard is that?

Then today, at prayer group, the discussion came up of making time in our lives for committed, regular prayer. Of course, we could all think of how difficult that might be. Then we brainstormed ways to be gentle on ourselves and move in the direction of committed prayer time. It occurred to me that, perhaps, on our list of two items to be done the next day, prayer could be one of them. It could be a couple of minutes, we could be aided by prayers written by other people, we could just sing our prayers, light a candle and whisper our heart to God without the pretense of our words being so important that we trip over them. He knows what’s going on in our hearts. Prayer could be as simple as sitting quietly and allowing a little bit of His peace to infuse my life. We got these ideas from a book on prayer by Richard Foster.

Saying no to some events, even worthwhile ones, may be awkward, but it’s ok. We don’t have to have our minutes scheduled out to be productive, worthwhile people. God accepts us as we are, even on days when the day planner has blank pages.

Father, my life is so full sometimes, there is no room for You. I am not telling You anything You don’t already know. I think that in the busyness of my day, in the productivity of my day, I will find value, but You and I both know that I won’t. I have already been given value by You. So much value that You sent Your son Jesus to take my sins, to right the wrongs of my life, to bring meaning to my life, to lead me back to You – my source of value and worth. Thank You and please forgive me for the times I am just too busy to sit at Your feet. Help me with this commitment to prayer, help me make the time. In Jesus’s name. Amen.