Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment


Good Day,

As I promised, I'm finally going to say something about the book club we're supposed to be doing. Ummm, since the blog was deleted, it's been hard to get my thoughts together and to do a post. I've gotten out of the habit, I think. So I set aside time today to pull some stuff together. Really, I wish I didn't have to say anything, because it's such a good book, and you all should read it for yourselves. Well, actually All Things For Good is a great introduction to the puritan writers and it's also incredibly short and easy. I just finished that this past week. So, according to Burroughs, contentment is: "that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition" But lest we think that we can't possibly be Christians since we lack such an important character, he goes on to say later that contentment isn't something that we automatically possess in the Holy Spirit. It is something that we learn; something that the Holy Spirit teaches us. What contentment is not, is merely a passive acceptance to the circumstances we have been given. We must work for contentment.

To be perfectly honest, contentment is something I have been learning for the past 4 years, during our residence here in Atlanta. A lot of things have happened that have "disturbed my outward comforts and darkened my inward comforts" (Watson, All Things For Good). For a while I looked for something external to change. Guess what! The change never came!!! I am still faced with the same problems. I am finally learning that contentment is an inward frame of spirit. "To be content through an inward disposition of the soul is like the warmth that a man's clothes have from the natural heat of his body." (Rare Jewel, p. 28)

So how exactly am I supposed to get this inward contentment? "The Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions, and so he attains contentment. ... But though a man cannot bring his circumstances to be as great as his heart, yet if he can bring his heart to be as little as his circumstances ... this is the way to contentment."(p. 45) If I stop believing that my circumstances have to change in order to love God and take pleasure at his disposal, well then I shall be able to love no matter what the trial. I will need people less, and love people more. I will not expect people to reach my expectations, but rather meet them where they're at. So contentment "consists not in bringing anything from outside to make my condition comfortable, but in purging out something that is within."

It's one thing to know all this, but it's all together, entirely different to keep believing it daily. So that's the first two chapters, briefly!!! It would take a post a mile long to cover everything that he said...so you'll have to see for yourself. I've only covered a tiny speck of what is there in just the first two chapters! Any personal anecdotes relating to contentment? It would be a great time for us all to share!

Cheers,
Lily

2 comments:

Miss Blair said...

Lily~

Oh, what a perfectly delightful post. Thank you for starting my week bright and early with a post on contentment. It's so hard to be content because our hearts are still so full of unbelief...but it's a work of the Spirit and He is gracious to work in and through our weaknesses making us "perfect and complete; lacking in nothing." Thank you so much for the reminder...I needed that on Monday morning!

Love you,

Sarah

Lily said...

Well, I have an anecdote to share. On Tuesday, I spent an hour and a half cleaning...and that was just the main level! By Wednesday, the house looked once more as if I'd never cleaned it. How does that happen?! I spent the majority of Wednesday afternoon moping around the house having a pity party with myself about my miserable plight of having to live in a house full of slobs. (just kidding of course ; ) However, the injustice and ingratitude of certain members of my family (names will not be given to protect the guilty) was working itself bitterly into my frame of mind.

Well, it just got so overwhelming that I decided to escape for a while and take my dog for a little walk in the beautiful weather. Guess what I was reminded of!!! Hmmm this should sound vaguely familiar: "The Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions, and so he attains contentment. ... But though a man cannot bring his circumstances to be as great as his heart, yet if he can bring his heart to be as little as his circumstances ... this is the way to contentment." Hmm, maybe if I stop expecting perfection in the neatness area of my family members, maybe I will find more joy in serving others and contentment as well. Wouldn't you know!

Well, that unbelief is still there, and today I'm going to tackle the upstairs. But the Holy Spirit is doing His job, working even in may weakness...

Y'all have a good day!