Contentment


Claytor Lake
Originally uploaded by Lrwilks
Wow, wow, wow! The Lord is so good! As I have been learning I have been tempted to just blog everyday about how good God is! More than the specifics of what I am learning and how he is sanctifying my life, I am just in awe of who he is. And how beautiful a God I serve! I changed my major to religion and culture, so even in my classes each day I am being blown away with how great the glory of the Lord is in the world. For example, in Hebrew class, my professor explained that the original text of the Hebrew bible, because of the alternation of only 26 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the text creates diagonal lines throughout the ENTIRE old testament that simply repeat GOD, GOD, GOD. Elohim, elohim, elohim. OH MY WORD-how insanely incredible is that! Glory to God!
But what I really want to get down on paper (or Microsoft word?) is what I learned yesterday through a book called Calm my Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. We are reading through this book and its weekly bible study in my Sunday school class at BCF, Tapestry. The name of the book definitely sounds cheesy, reminds me of a recipe book on making my life content. But it really has been amazing, in only the first chapter. Our memory verse from the book this week is Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul reflects on his missionary life and says, “I have learned in whatever the circumstance, I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Wow. Talk about contentment, and who knew it better than Jesus. And I would say Paul was definitely a runner up with the incredible life he lived for the sake of the Gospel. Umwaume pa baume ni Yesu. (To live is Christ and to die is gain-in Tonga (village language in Zambia). Throughout the first chapter Linda explains what this verse both meant and means to her daily life. The whole chapter really made me realize some things in my life (i.e. how stinking much I complain about the dumbest things-even the weather)-and how that reflects a heart of discontentment.
What really came to mind as I read through this chapter was the things I have been wrestling with since being home from Zambia. The last four summers I have served overseas. But Zambia was so incredibly different than anything European I had experienced before. It was literally culture shock every single day. Whether it was not showering or having a toilet, seeing absolutely revolting diseases among people with no medical care, or the fact that hundreds of those people had never heard of Jesus Christ before. Each aspect was shocking. And I knew that coming home would be so much harder than I expected. I have wrestled with culture shock in most every way I think its possible to. But the hardest aspect by far has been just living in this culture. Coming home I was absolutely disgusted by America. By how much food we eat. Or waste. By how we dress. Or waste our money on clothes. By how we worship. Or the lack of worship in our lives. by how the church spends its money. Or where the money is spent. By how simply we can see a doctor whenever we want. And yet how we complain about the small inconveniences and the money it costs. Owning swimming pools. Yet complaining about the temperature of the water, when most of the world cannot swim in a river without worrying about disease or dangerous animals. And the list could seriously go on and on. The car I drive. What its worth? Holy Cow. The things I could use that money for. Since moment I got on the plane heading back I have been disgusted. Americans complaining about airplane food. People in the JFK airport complaining about the wait for starbucks. AHHHHH. But I know that my attitude has been wrong, since day one. I just haven’t understood how to change it. Yesterday when I read an excerpt in Linda’s book my mind and heart were rocked.
“We pushed the grocery cart around Pam Pam, my big grocery store in Vienne, Austria. Next to Safeway and Albertsons, Pam Pam left much to be desired; but compared to the small, cramped Polish stores with empty shelves, Pam Pam was a fairyland of plenty.
My companions, Alina and Henryk, were overwhelmed with the numbers and variety of goods available. When Alina picked the “just for children” toothpaste off the heavily laden shelf, I felt sick to my stomach. As we continued around the store, my nausea grew. Usually Pam Pam seemed inadequate to my American eyes, but today I saw plenty through their Polish eyes.
Later, as we ate lunch together in my large home, I asked Alina and Henryk how they were able to accept this abundance when they knew that in two days they would return to Poland where there was no toothpaste, let alone a special toothpaste for children! I’ll never forget what Alina said, “Linda, we have learned that when we are here we can enjoy the plenty, but we know that we can be just as content with little in Poland.” The apostle Paul’s words filled my mind. “I have learned in whatever the circumstance I am to be content…in plenty and in need.” I pushed many more carts around Pam Pam after that, but my perspective had changed. I now saw through Polish eyes,
and I was humbled and blessed.”

Wow. I still don’t even know how to put into words what that made me think. God seriously lit a light bulb in my heart and mind. Being in America allows me to show each and
every American how thankful I am for what God has and daily gives me! What a testimony that is through my humility and realization of my blessings. Praise the Lord for allowing me to read that excerpt and to understand from a godly perspective what I was wrestling with, and how I can deal with it. Needless to say it is still incredibly difficult, but now I see the answer, I see the hope beyond all my anger and discontentment with America. Praise Jesus for that. Praise him for who he is. For his example of humility before me.

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