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"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."- Philippians 4:12-13
"One small step for BALANCE, and one giant leap for BREAKTHROUGH!"- Leaf Zwerling
Okay, so I have taken a bit of liberty by using the infamous line uttered by Neil Armstrong, as the whole world witnessed the extraordinary moon landing in the summer of 1969. Fast forward forty seven years to the present summer season and I am feeling a great sense of achievement in reaching new horizons at a personal level. The journey and destination I am speaking of has to do with cutting the umbilical cord that had been created with my CELL PHONE. This gift of modern technology has quickly become a tool I could not live without. I found myself constantly checking incoming emails, texts, and alerts so that I would not miss any vital information. I had it with me first thing in the morning, before going to bed, on my days off, and even at the dinner table. Without making excuses or giving myself license for this behavior, I am guessing that many also struggle with how much time they are on their phone: From constant conversations to addicting games (Pokemon Go has become a global phenomenon) to talking on the phone while driving, it seems people cannot put their phones down.
Heading into the summer I knew that there needed to be a change and my target for beginning the mission took place on our June vacation to Palm springs. I made a choice to not check any emails, to not take my phone with me wherever we went, and to even leave it in the other room when it was time to go to sleep. It was such a focused effort, but with it came a sense of liberty and true rest. I allowed myself to relax and experience peace, not worrying about whether there was a crisis back home or a new development in the church property transition. What I discovered in putting the cell phone down was the Lord was teaching me once again the invaluable lesson of being CONTENT. This has been an area the Lord has been working in and weeding out of my life for a long time. I have always battled with the desire to do more, to be more, and to have more. Even though we were blessed to own our own home (a true gift from the Lord), I found myself comparing it to our friends homes in a way that had me nitpicking the flaws in our house. When it came to being a pastor, I focused on the numerical growth of the church as my basis for validation and satisfaction. And when it came to helping people out I operated at a frantic pace and made myself available 24 hours a day in order to not let anyone down. All of these types of thoughts and behaviors led to an unbalanced and unhealthy way of life that was quickly leading to a breakdown. Something had to change!
Over the last few years there has been a steady change and movement towards health in these areas. From taking a Sabbath (day to rest) to not returning calls/emails right away to not comparing what I have to what others have, I have experienced liberty and relief. This summer has been a continuation of this lesson of CONTENTMENT as the Lord has been dealing with my cell phone use. The Holy Spirit has indeed been teaching me what it means to trust in the Lord and to rest in His grace, strength, and promise. I am learning more and more that I do not have to always be available and I do not have to have all the answers. This lesson of contentment is an important one for us all. To be truly content means to be THANKFUL for what you have, to be PEACEFUL no matter where you are, and to be MINDFUL that the Lord is present and has a plan! It is quite easy to look at what others possess and complain; to look at the present place one finds themselves in and despair; and to look at the pressures of life and forget to seek the Lord.
In the same way people are always on their phones, many people are living discontent lives. They are unhappy and unthankful for what they have, where they live, what their job entails, who they are married to, and the overall make up of their lives. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I have counseled with whose major burden and beef, is that they never envisioned that their life would be comprised of what it is at the present moment. They had a different dream, a different plan, and a different hope.
I believe it is time for many of us to put down the cell phones, to put down the complaints, and to put down the constant striving for more. It is time to take a step towards the Lord which is a step that leads to lasting liberty! A life-long pursuit of contentment will produce great results in our lives. The more we seek this goal and learn this gift the more we will be able to surrender to the Lord, the more we will be joyful in the blessings received, and the more we will see His hand moving in our circumstances. I Timothy 6:6 tells us, "Godliness with contentment is great gain."
If we REST in the Lord, He will restore us!
If we TRUST in the Lord, He will provide the answer!
If we GIVE THANKS to the Lord, He will be present in our midst!