I have a spot in my house. It’s my “thinking spot.” At one end of my couch I can sit with my coffee and look out the windows onto the deck and watch the hummingbirds chasing one another around red geraniums, the sun shining on the leaves of the trees and the pastoral comings and of the farm beyond our little wilderness valley. In quiet moments, I feel the calm drape over me like a cherished blanket, a balm to my weary soul on days when I’ve been the Prussian General with my boys (seriously! Some days I can’t close my eyes for a second before I hear something breaking or someone screaming!), or when grief comes knocking at my door with a heavy fist, or when the everyday challenges multiply into suffocating anxiety.
Everyone should have a quiet thinking spot, a place to be refreshed. A place to get away with your own thoughts. A place to renew those thoughts in the presence of Jesus. A place to be filled up when you feel depleted of strength and patience.
This morning, as I was drinking my coffee and watching the sunrise from my “spot,” an image floated across my mind: a woman staring out the same window and taking in the beauty…but never engaging in the world beyond. She sits there year after year, absorbed by the peace and tranquility. Each year she grows older and vines begin to grow up and around her chair, yet she remains unmoved, enraptured and entombed by contentment. Forever a spectator.
I attended a Women’s Retreat a couple weeks ago and the speaker made a statement that I had to take time to really chew on for a while. I think I understand now what she meant when she said she felt sorry for those who spent their lives always happy and at peace, going from one thing to another. My knee-jerk response was “What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with enjoying the life you’ve been given?” My vision this morning answered that question. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your life and being content. But if I am only a spectator in life, if I only absorb the goodness of Jesus and never allow it to move me, then I decay. I become useless, rooted in my own pursuit of tranquility rather than the transforming power of Christ who calls me to a life of service.
Service means contact with the world outside my peaceful zone. Service means getting my hands dirty, doing things out of love for Jesus and allowing that love to spill selfless onto people who won’t necessarily love me back. Or say thank you. And loving them anyway.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain” says Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6. This is good truth to hold onto when I am feeling envious or when my felt “needs” outweigh common sense or my bank statement. But oh how easy it is to let the pendulum swing too far the other direction to focus strictly on my contentment and my gain, and sometimes giving God a nod and a thumbs up when things are going especially well. It is far too easy, too HUMAN, to take God out of the equation for life. And oh how He must grieve to see us stuck in such a trap of our own making.
He has called you and me to a higher standard. He has called us to love. To serve with humility. To be changed. To put off our old selves and be transformed. To soar to the mountain-tops. But only when we put our faith to the work He has given us to do, relying on Him entirely, can we break free of our self-absorbed pursuit of personal comfort, and find the true sort of contentment we were meant for–simply serving our Savior.