Contentment isn’t about perfection, but about perception. Contentment isn’t found in the “if onlys”, but in the love of the One and Only. Contentment comes from believing the truth. Contentment allows for growth and grace.
And in this last post in the Cultivating Contentment series, we’ll learn that contentment comes from living for God, not self.
Maybe that seems to be a no brainer. Joy comes from Jesus, so of course living for Him would bring joy. Yet, it’s easier said than done.
Because I have dreams and desires. I have wants and longings. And I know what it’s like to have those wants and desires, those dreams and longings, go unmet and unfulfilled.
I know what it’s like to believe God has placed certain desires in my heart, to believe God has a plan and purpose for my life. And I know what it’s like to be living in a season of waiting and wondering. Waiting on God, to hear His voice and see His working. Wondering what step to take next and what my purpose really is.
I know what it’s like to feel like my life is only second best right now. Like it hasn’t really begun yet. Like I have to just make the best of what I have and where I’m at, but it will never really be the best, just a sort of settling.
If I’m not careful and prayerful, all those feelings and fears can take over and claim to be truth. Those dreams and desires, those wants and longings, grow in sovereignty and begin exacting their rule. They become idols. I live for them, so they will be satisfied and fulfilled. And when they’re not, I feel empty and alone. I’m dissatisfied and discontent.
I begin to treat God, the Beginning and the End, as a means to an end. I serve so He will grant. I read my Bible and do good things, but really, I’m just living for myself.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (NIV, emphasis added)
God is God. Not me. Not my plans, dreams, or desires. And it is when I let God be God, in my heart, in my life, in my desires, that I find joy. It is when I lay my life down at His feet, when I release my control and my plans to Him, that I find full life.
Laying down and releasing, bowing low and surrendering, these are not natural actions for us. I know they’re not for me. I know I can often feel afraid that if I release my hopes and dreams to God, He won’t do what I hope and dream; that if I surrender my plans to Him, they won’t be abundant, they won’t be good, and I won’t find joy.
Sometimes, we’ve just got to give up our idea of happiness and take a step, a leap, a dive of faith, trusting that God knows and does what is best; that even if those plans don’t unfold as we had planned, even if the dreams and hopes are met in different ways, life will still be abundant. Still be good. Still be joyous.
In fact, it’s only when we walk in God’s plan that we truly experience abundant life.
When I release to God my life, I’m not going to get something as good as what I’d hoped, because I’ll be getting something better; the best. A life lived in time with God’s heart. A life tuned to His songs of love. A life walked in step with His Spirit.
How do we live a life released to God? In Psalm 37, we find some actions we can take to step into God’s plan, and step closer to His heart, and along with these actions, are beautiful promises from God:
The Action: Trust
This is an ongoing action. Each day, we must choose to trust God: His plan, His will, His truth, His promises. When fears, and worries creep in and cause us to doubt God, we must submit those anxieties to God and rest in His care for us.
As we trust in the Lord, we will experience security in the Lord. We won’t worry about tomorrow, for we are trusting the One who holds tomorrow. We know He will provide and take care of us. Our lives are safe and secure when placed in His hands.
The Action: Do Good
This doesn’t just mean going through a list of good things we must check off in order to be good Christians. This speaks of living a life following God’s commands; a life that is aligned with His character and will; a life that seeks to be more like Jesus, following His example.
As we do good, living the life God calls us to, we will experience prosperity. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be monetarily rich or successful. It means we will experience the richness of God, and we will be sharing that richness with those around us.
The Action: Delight
Delight means “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture.” Delighting in the Lord is choosing to find enjoyment and satisfaction in Him, not looking to other things for our joy or satisfaction. Spending time in worship and thanksgiving is a great way to take delight in who God is.
As we delight in the Lord, He gives our heart’s desires. Not always in the way we may think, but always by giving Himself. We may not get that boyfriend, that job, that dream home, that invitation, that perfect vacation, but those deep desires, those thirstings of the soul for love, belonging, worth, peace, hope, joy, those are granted in abundance.
The Action: Commit
Everything we do, our dreams, our plans, our very lives, we are to commit to Lord, releasing to His control. This, again, is an ongoing action. A choosing to live for Jesus, committed to Him and His will, no matter what we face or go through. Fixing our eyes on Him, walking in step with His Spirit, no turning back.
As we commit our lives to the Lord, He causes our lives to radiate and shine with His light. He makes us righteous and godly. When we live for Jesus, Jesus character is reflected in us.
The Action: Be Still
Rather than letting busyness rule the day, rather than leaning on our own understanding, rather acting in our own strength, we are to be still before God. We are to wait on His timing and guiding. We are to make time to be in His Presence.
As we are still before the Lord, we find joy in Him. Those worries about our plans not happening, those fears that our hopes and dreams will never be met, those feelings that our life is second best, are calmed by the Presence of God.
If you enjoyed this Cultivating Contentment series, and want to keep cultivating, I’d love to send you a free copy of The Heart Beats, a five chapter Bible Study about finding fulfillment and contentment in Jesus. Just enter your email below and I’ll send it you!