This summer God has been working on me. Not the soft, tickling, fine sandpaper kind of refining, but the chisel, jackhammer kind. He's been working on taking off some sharp corners to which I have become rather attached. I have had my arms protecting them from being sheared off, which has led to quite a few tears and some major bloodshed. Feeling the first blows of the refinement process nearly took my breath away and consumed nearly an entire box of kleenex (the cube size!) But God, in his wisdom, chose the right timing and the right circumstances to lay bare some looming character issues that I have been avoiding for a long time.
Have you ever really considered what it means to be content? I think it goes beyond simply being satisfied with your "lot" to being truly joyful and praising God for every thing and every way that he has chosen to bless you. Do you know how difficult that is? In our world where we are raised to want more and strive for better, being happy with your lot is practically unamerican. I am not sure there are many people who are content. They might be happy, but that's not the same thing.
I have been fighting God on this one. It's embarrassing to say, but it has gotten to the level of toddler tantrum, complete with stomping feet and pounding fists. Hard to imagine? Every rational, logical, common sense bone in my body tells me one thing, but there's a part that still wants what I want because I want it! I am sure we all have those buttons that turn us from calm and rational to childlike in seconds: a certain boyfriend, a new car, the right school, the "perfect" job, having a baby, or holiday plans with family (one of my favorites!)
I cannot dispute that God is good and that he gives me good things. He takes care of me and he loves me more than I can imagine. But when I get in this mood, I am so self-centered that I cannot see past the end of my nose! Nothing seems good enough if it's not the "thing" I want. I have been reading Psalms a lot lately and I am struck by how many of the psalms recount all that God did for the Israelites and how time and time again they continue to forget and whine and ask for more! Sometimes it is just astounding that anyone could doubt God after experiencing so many good things, but right now I am hanging my head in shame and seeing myself in every verse.
While the process is no where near completion, two thoughts are swirling around in my head:
1. Trust: I am failing to trust God's plan for me. It's the whole Israelite thing. Here's the Promised Land, but the people look too big and scary even though we walked through the Red Sea on dry land and watched the Egyptians drown. I am choosing to believe lies about God rather than seeking Him and knowing Him.
I have a huge underlying fear in all of this: The fear that God would give me what I want just to show me how wrong I am. Like a child who begs for a taste of the hot sauce he just saw daddy pour on his taco, and the parent who gives in, knowing it won't ultimately harm the child but lead to a lesson. I don't want to learn the lesson that way.
2. Greed: It comes down to plain, old-fashioned coveting. One of the original Ten Commandments. Wanting what isn't mine. Hello, my name is Danielle and I am greedy. Not something I ever called myself before, but God is showing me the kettle, and it is very black.
Have you ever delved into Ecclesiastes very much? There is a whole lot of discontentment and disillusionment there. By glossing over a few verses and skipping the last two, it's easy to feed discontentment. Having read the book a few times, I have underlined the hopeful verses so I don't miss them in the sea of negativity. There are some big glaring ones right at the end of chapter 5 that have been helping me during the chiseling process:
"Moreover, (some good stuff actually preceedes this!) when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Ecc. 5:19, 20
I am just beginning to "unpack" these verses, as one of our minsters fondly calls it. So many good things:
- God gives me wealth and possessions
- He gives me the ability to enjoy them
- Enjoyment means accepting my lot (contentment!!!)
- Being able to enjoy them is a gift
- I won't have to worry (often!) if I am content
- God will make me glad!! I don't have to make me glad...