Saturday, December 13, 2008

Step By Step

Remember the show Step By Step with Carol (Suzanne Somers from Three's Company) and Frank (Patrick Duffy from Dallas)? A blended family making their way through life step by step as they learn to become one family in unity. Just as in real life, it is not an easy go for Frank and Carol to nurture and promote a cohesive atmosphere. Both Frank and Carol's three kids each have to learn how to share a house with three more siblings and to learn the disciplinary ways of the new mother and father figures. Going from a house of four to eight will require many new rules. Rules of compromise. Rules of sharing. Rules of giving. Rules of responsibility. It is a major learning process with many new relationships in the household. They do it step by step. Learning their way through it.

Our life in Christ is much the same. I admit that I struggle very often with being content. Okay, let’s be real…the majority of time. I just plum don't feel happy or content. Rather, I feel as though I'm waiting for the good that God is/will work in my life as He promises in Romans 8:28. But then, I struggle with the guilt I have for not being content. I wonder what God expects of me. Is He displeased with me not being content in my circumstances and not being content in Him alone? I want to please God and I want to rectify this issue of discontentment in my circumstances.

I do not know from where these thoughts stem. Let's rewind. The perfectly worded post came to me last night as I laid my exhausted body in bed. I felt the nudging of this post. I pondered on my disobedience to not turn on the light and explicitly wake my tired soul to pen the words on my heart. I conscientiously thought forgive me if I'm disobeying but I must sleep. I repeated the words of this post so I could make myself remember as a trade for my disobedience.

So, as I strain to recapture the words He gave me, I reflect on what is "being content" and how to attain it. Something I must've read in recent days enlightened me to the idea that contentment is not a matter of flipping a switch. Yes, we are to be content in all circumstances. We should be. But is that truly attained that easily or rather is it something we are to learn. I believe it is a matter of learning to be content. The more we determine to see God in all aspects of our lives, large and small, the more we recognize His works. The more we see His Hand the more we can find calmness, peace, and assurance in the midst. I believe it is in the peace and assurance that we find our contentment.

How do we profess to have true contentment when:
Our child has died.
Our body has been stricken with illness.
Our job has been removed.
Our spouse has left.
Our food is at a minimum for survival.

I do not believe we wake up to the diagnosis of cancer and automatically have contentment in the turbulent ride ahead. No, with God's grace and love we learn to be content in all things. The good Lord knows we are human creatures of the flesh. We learn to be content by reading His Word. We learn to be content by experiencing His grace. We learn to be content by continually drinking from His fountain. We learn to be content by focusing on His purposes in the midst of horrific pain.

Contentment is a process of one step at a time learning His ways. To be content is to rest in the assurance that God knows what He is doing. That God will provide regardless of our situation. That God will guide the way in the darkness. That God will supply our needs.

There are so many who are in worse situations than ourselves. There are so many people worse off than myself. I know this. I have a good job. I have wonderful family and friends. I have my health. I have food and a nice roof over my head. I have a vehicle. I have Christ and eternal salvation. So, why in the world do I not feel I have contentment? Yet, someone like Job who was stricken of everything still found himself content. Or Paul who continually had a thorn in his side and was in prison but he was content. However, if we look at his words, they clearly tell us he had learned to be content.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. Philippians 4:11, 12b

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. Hebrews 5:11 This is a little out of context but I feel the author of Hebrews is speaking right to me. Contentment is a hard subject to explain, understand, and live.

If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. Job 36:11 I honor God’s Word and respect Job penning it. However, for me, it is very hard to comprehend how simply obeying and serving God will bring about contentment. Yes, there is great contentment in those two actions indwelling deep in us. Yet, our flesh and emotions are overwhelmed by our circumstances, our feelings, our hearts.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6 Oh how beautiful that is indeed…godliness and contentment…what a great combination.

Let God weigh me in honest scales and He will know that I am blameless—if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled. Job 31:6-7

Yes, Lord, if my steps have turned from your path, lead me back onto your path of righteousness. Lord, if my heart has been led by my eyes, transform my heart and refocus my eyes. Show me your ways. Lead me Lord, step by step into Your path for my life and into Your path of learning true contentment.

Trying to Learn Contentment...step by step,

28 comments:

Beth in NC said...

Oh Paula, I think all of us could get convicted about our lack of contentment sometimes (God forgive us). As I was reading your post I received a phone call from a friend who was weeping over a little girl who has AIDS. Just as you said, there are always people who are really going through some trials.

I pray our attention stays on our Lord and off of the circumstances around us.

Thank you for writing this blog.

Love,
Beth

Laura said...

Hello, my precious friend!

I agree with you, I think we have to learn contentment in many situations. It's a matter of discipline for me many times. By changing the lens that I view my situation through, I can reframe discontent to content. But it's not always easy!
I love this: "Contentment is a process of one step at a time learning His ways. To be content is to rest in the assurance that God knows what He is doing. That God will provide regardless of our situation. That God will guide the way in the darkness. That God will supply our needs."

Amen, Paula!

Abbasgirl said...

I love the Scriptures you used in your beautiful post.

Tonja said...

I think a big part of 'contentment' is being able to 'rest in the Lord'. While I may not like what is going on in my life, and while I may want to change it...I can be 'content' in knowing that God has it all in His control...and whatever happens or doesn't happen...I will be just fine!

Wanda said...

What a sweet post. I understand completely.
This year has been a year that I would have never believed would happen to me. My pastor husband resigned from his church (it was a very unhealthy situation)...and didn't find another job for four months.
We knew staying where we were would be compromising who we were in Christ....but WHY....WHY did we almost lose everything?
I may never know....but I know that God never left us.
I am learning to be content....in many ways!

Karyn said...

Thank you so much for your blog, which I’ve really come to appreciate. It's so important that we continue as a light to the world, especially as Christmas approaches and so many people are more open to hearing about the things of God. Thanks again, Karyn
www.christiancupid.com/blog

valerie said...

Just this past week I was received word from a loved one that broke my heart. I was so sad, but the unexplainable peace has been so evident in the midst of the sadness. As I thought about the peace I had I realized (and told the person who had shared this news with me) when you walk closely with the Lord every day...when you are in a real relationship with Him....when you know His ways and His Word....it makes it so much easier. Not easy, but easier. There is just a peace you feel because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt He's in it. You really believe Rom. 8:28.
Stay in the Word Paula. God is in control and He will see you through.
Love you,
Valerie

Amy said...

I'm walking step by step with you, Paula.

It is not always easy. And I think what you said is very true. We don't always just "automatically" feel joy and contentment when faced with a trial. It takes time. Baby steps.

The other night I fell down outside. I landed on my knees very hard. It hurt. I was so scared that I was shaking. Thankfully, I had my back brace on, or I think my back could have been hurt worse. My point is, the first thing that ran through my mind when I fell was, "Are You kidding me, God?" It wasn't until a couple of hours later that I said to Shannon, "Well, if I was going to fall, it's better to fall BEFORE my MRI than AFTER." Amen?

So, I go today for my tests...with my bruised up knee in tow.;)

Hopefully, today, we will know what is going on with my back.

Keep taking your steps, Paula. One by one. And know that you are not alone.

(((BIG HUGS!)))
God Bless,
Amy:)

Nicole said...

What a real and honest post my friend! I think contentment is learned also.

Walking this journey with you.

Love you,
Nicole

Sharon said...

This is me!! I am really trying to stay focused on the Lord, and I think he knows, this battle is ours! not just his, But he surely is helping me with it. I know I am not alone.
I know there are others going through rougher times than I, and I know I can't be in a pity party, even though I would like to have my own pity party, God is not allowing it. I watched him Sunday evening do his work on me, I recieved and acted upon it last night at a women's get together.
I pray everyday that he give me strength. somedays it's very hard!
I am not sure I have made much sense here, but I received from your post.
God Bless you!!
Love,
Sharon

much2ponder said...

There seems to be a kind of movement made between contentment, truly trusting the Lord and finding hope for change isn't there. I mean at times when life just does not make sense it is difficult to find that contentment, but at the same time we must or we begin to lose hope for change and healing. It's all a mystery to me, but for today, for right now, I am going to do my best to believe God has my life in his hands and that he is working out the things that seem to make no sense at all. I need him so much. This post was very good. Hug for you ((((((((Paula))))))))

On Purpose said...

What a treat to come and read this amazing post...thank you! This reminded me to take steps...steps towards Him...and it also reminded me of the times when I couldnt' take the steps...yet He carried me. Paula I am praying for you and your marriage and I know God is working...because I believe in Him!

Amy L Brooke said...

Great thoughts about contentment. I think it is hard to be content when things get difficult if we haven't practiced it a bit before hand.

Thanks for the birthday wishes. It was a good one.

Daisy said...

Wow, that was just the post I needed to hear. Thank you so much. I found you through Mama Mia.

Lora said...

Paula, I just love clicking on your blog and seeing the pink! Brightens my day!
For me, your comment of "The more we determine to see God in all aspects of our lives, large and small, the more we recognize His works" has been key for me this last year. I started keeping a gratitude journal and it has really helped me to see what you are talking about. Romans 8:28 was one of the first verses I ever put to memory and I'm blessed to know that the "all" of my life is going to be worked out for His glory.
Bless you dear one as you walk with Him,
Lora

Dianne said...

You always seem to have just the right words, just when I need to hear them, you have been such an inspiration to me over these last few weeks, I'm so glad to have "met" you.

Thank you Paula.

Liz said...

Paula,
As I read your blog today, I am thinking, "yes, I understand", "I am struggling with that too". I don't like that you are having these questions. Having them also, I know the discontent that comes with realizing how our own discontentment.
So...on this journey with you, I pray that we will all learn how to live in such a way where HE will truly be our all in all.

Edge of Design said...

How's your standing these days? Are you standing strong?

Carol said...

My friend,

Oh yes I struggle with contetment, and agree is a learning process. I sometimes feel so self focused, that I forget that I'm not the only one with hurt and problems.

Then I remember to how truly blessed I am. Learning contentment is also learning to lean on Him, and trusting that we don't have to have all the answeres. It's finding our identy in him, not in ourselves or the things of this world.

I'm thinking of you and continue to pray for you. I miss ya.

Big Hugs to you.

Love your sister in Christ.

Carol

Kristen said...

((((Paula)))) - my cyber hug to you!

You are so right. Contentment isn't something that just "happens" I believe too it's a growth process. I do think God provides change in our life to keep us from becoming idle. I do believe He wants us to be content in Him... but knows we won't always be content with our surroundings, our cirucumstance etc.

John 16:33 is a verse that in the midst of trouble gives me contentment...
"I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed over that verse!

Praying for contentment for all of us. The contentment that only the Lord can provide!

skoots1mom said...

i like your step by step analogy...there's a song called "step by step" also...
have a gr8 weekend! thanks for coming by

Pat said...

"Yes, Lord, if my steps have turned from your path, lead me back onto your path of righteousness. Lord, if my heart has been led by my eyes, transform my heart and refocus my eyes. Show me your ways. Lead me Lord, step by step into Your path for my life and into Your path of learning true contentment."
Paula,
I love these words. My hearts connects with yours in so many ways.
I pray that your day is FULL of new birth!
Pat

Yolanda said...

Learning this dance, step by step, the dance of contentment.

I know for me, in my own little way, I find it more often when I have my eyes on HIM instead of self/others.

Lovingly and wishes for a very Merry Christmas,
Yolanda

~PakKaramu~ said...

Happy new year to you

HIS Daughter said...

Sweetheart,

Merry Christmas! You have to know how much you have grown and matured in HIM since the beginning of 2008! It is mind blowing!

HE has become your true "Bride-groom". HE is your King and your Warrior and Protector...HE is first in your life and HE has been wooing you gently and you have been following.

HE would not bring us to the places of desperately wanting and needing HIM if HE did not love us more than any lover ever could!

You get it, Girl!! I love how you have stretched and grown. You look like a Warrior's Princess now...capable of riding beside HIM...no wimp girl there!

Merry Christmas and love you!
Teri

Tammy said...

Have a Mery Chirstmas!


love,
Tammy

Laura said...

Sending His love to you today, my sweet friend.

:)Laura

Natalie said...

You have such a gift of writing to express the bounty of God's love and grace. Thank you for using your gift.