Thursday, February 21, 2008

Essential #3: Perseverance and Contentment

It was so good to recently read Kelly's (from The Barefoot Mama) guest post at Biblical Womanhood here on the topic of contentment. This is a topic that I have been mulling over for some weeks now. It keeps popping up in what I am reading, when I am out, and when I am studying God's word. Along with contentment, the Lord has been showing me the essential need for me to keep perseverance in the forefront of my "pantry" as well, but not too much of it either. Here is a little of what I am pondering and what the Lord has been stocking my soul with lately. I would surely appreciate any input you may have from your own lives as a testimony to the Lord's goodness regarding perseverence and contentment.

We can have perseverance, but not be content, never fully resting in what God has given us for this time, leading to discouragement with ourself, others, and ultimately God. We may continue to persevere through what we feel is another roadblock not considering it was placed there by God so that we may cease from striving for a time and find contentment in Him alone.

For each of us there has probably come a time when the Lord has brought his words found in Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God" to our minds. In the original language, this truly means "enough, know I am God." When I am cooking with my children, we're measuring items out, and I tell them "that's enough," if they were to keep adding more the whole dinner could end up tasting horrible. Now, I do understand a little more basil could have been just the thing to make it outstanding, but depending on what I am making, too much salt or baking soda could ruin it completely. That may be a poor analogy, this one might be better understood. If you are a bread baker, consider overworking your dough and ending up with a tougher result than desired. It might still taste OK, but it wouldn't be as satisfying to your palate. When you hear the word "enough" from the Lord, it is a good time to stop persevering for a season and look to rest in all that God has for you right now.

The other side of the issue I have found as I have been meditating on this leads to being content, but not persevering, becoming complacent, ceasing to strive toward the goal Christ has for us in the name of contentment. While previously noted, perseverance can lead to being overly driven, in the same manner I think being overly content may very well lead to laziness. This may mainfest itself in a variety of areas in our life just as well as overdoing it can. While one may be overzealous in their study of the word and neglect their family's needs, another may be overly complacent in their spiritual journey and not seek out the Lord for direction in their daily tasks unless a crises arises. While some are overinvolved in church activities and ministries, others are so content with the way things are that they fail to engage in the ministry of their own children who are right under their nose.

It is not my intent to inflict shame on anyone here. I find myself having hit both extremes at times and am currently seeking the Lord for balance and what He desires for me to stock my pantry with. While the saying doesn't really apply to everything in my pantry, such as love and compassion...too much of a good thing, can really be too much. I think too much perseverance or too much contentment could make for a string of unsavory suppers around here.

What are your thoughts on finding balance in these two areas in your own home? How do you "run with perseverance the race" (Heb 12:1) and still be "content in any and every situation" (Phil 4:12)?


Kelly said...

What a great post! And how honored I was to see you mention my guest post at Biblical Womanhood! :o) Thank you!

I loved your analogies. My hubby would especially like the basil one b/c there was a time when I first started really getting into cooking a few years ago that he'd tease me about adding parsley to everything. ;o)

How true it is that we need to obey our Lord and follow His will - without pushing. Whenever we try to bend something to what we want, our sin distorts it and can throw the work of the Lord in our lives right into shambles. Giving Jesus full reign on when to go and when to stop is so critical.

Great reminder!!

Mrs. Byers said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement! When you haven't been writing for an audience for quite some time and then you do, and wonder if it is making sense to them without seeing their facial expressions while they are reading know, self doubt creeps in :0)