1998-12-04 - Live With It
Philippians 4:11b ...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
People on America Online who check my profile will see that this is my "favorite quote". It's actually more than that, it is my life's verse. I would like to share with you how it became my life's verse.
I used to be a complainer. I was never satisfied, and never had enough. I still fight compulsion - whether it's compulsive spending or compulsive eating, it is a constant battle with me, although our Father has truly blessed me with something new for me - the ability to realize beforehand what I'm thinking about doing. I believe soon that the compulsiveness will soon be history. I hope so.
I was reading Philippians one evening in early August of 1992. In my reading, I passed by this verse. Something about it grabbed my attention and I went back to it. I re-read it a couple of times, and started thinking about it. Content. Content? God wants me to be content? I thought about it, and realized that I wasn't.
I wrote that verse out on a 3x5 card and taped it to my kitchen wall, right above the sink where I would see it every day. One thing I have learned, if I see things enough, not only do I start to memorize them, they become a part of me. Every day, I would read the verse, For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Every day I would thank God for the people that He had placed in my life. Things He had given me. Places I had been.
On August 22, 1992, we found out that a hurricane was headed our way. I need to mention that we were living south of Miami, Florida. This hurricane that was headed our way was named Andrew and was strong. We elected to leave the area and get away from where it was going to hit.
We drove north until we got to the first place where there was no hurricane watches or warnings, and by God's grace we ended up staying 2 days and 2 nights in a fully furnished duplex.
We returned home on Tuesday afternoon. The area was destroyed, we had a hard time finding the streets to get to our home because all of the landmarks that we had before used to make our turns were gone, signs were broken off and it looked like a war zone. No trees had leaves, and some were laying in the roads.
When we finally reached our home we went in. Out of 19 windows, we had 11 left and in some of them, the frames were twisted, others the frames were missing. Ceilings had fallen in all but two rooms. There was 6 inches of water on the floor, glass was all over the place, insulation and leaves were stuck to the walls, pictures were face down on the floor, garbage was in the house, and nothing was where I had left it, except for 2 3x5 cards, taped to the wall. One was for the boys, "Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good." The other one was in the kitchen underneath the hole that had once been a window. All around it was debris sticking to the wall, nothing was on the card except the writing, "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
We lived in that house for 5 months. It was a rented home, and the landlords did nothing to repair it until after we moved. For 5 months, we lived in a home that had a sign on the front door that read "Unfit for Human Habitation". There were tarps that leaked on the roof, so that every time it rained, we used pots and buckets to catch water. We had visquine on our sliding glass door to keep the worst of the weather out, holes instead of ceiling so once in a while we watched bugs crawl in, wood instead of windows in some of the "holes", and visquine in others.
The amazing thing is that I learned to be content. God allowed hardship to come into our lives, He was in control, He knew what was going on, so it was okay.
That's what contentment is, the ability to say, "It's okay" no matter what. Single? "It's okay." Married? "It's okay. " Sickness or good health, rich or poor - "It's all okay. God is in control."
When we reach for more than God gives us, it's always second best. When we learn to be content no matter what storm is blowing around us or even if it's not, if we can really say, "It's okay", then and only then will our hearts know God's peace and joy.
Happiness is a state of mind, not a condition of life.
Father, I thank You that You are willing to let me learn lessons. I thank You that You have given me the privilege of loving You and being loved by You. Thank You for the Hand that You hold me in. Thank you for all that You have given me, and for all that You have taken from me. I know that everything that You have brought into my life was to mold me into Your likeness. Forgive me for the times that I have struggled against You. Thank You for Your patience. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Your Son. Amen