"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Philippians 4:11.
"Contentment is an inside job. Stop looking to fix your life with people, places, and things." Unknown author.
"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5.
Growing up, I was told to do my best and God will do the rest. Like many young people, this pearl of wisdom landed just outside my field of understanding at the time. I reasoned that I had always done my best but somehow the outcomes did not always reflect that. Recently, one evening I was flipping through the YouTube channels looking for more on one of my favorite recording artists, TC Carson. In doing this, I stopped on a recording of Malcolm X. I started listening, but at some point I fell asleep. It was already late. However, I woke up to Lewis Howes, "The School of Greatness host, interviewing a guru from India; Sadhguru. I had been asleep for a while. Normally, I would have just turned the tv off. I really do not know a whole lot about Middle Eastern Philosophy; although in my younger years when I went on a search for "enlightenment," I did briefly explore Buddhism. That was short lived. I digress. Believe me, this had nothing to with why I continued to listen.
Rather, Sadhguru was speaking about the power within to create your own health and abundance. I have read my share of books on these topics, but it was something about his calm and unassuming demeanor that led me to listen a little longer. He was making sense to me, and it was in keeping with my belief that we all have to go within ourselves to come up with ways to live our best life; especially when you have God dwelling on the inside. I have always admired those people who can take a big, complicated subject matter and break it down into digestible pieces so that those of us who are not so gifted can get it. For example, some people spend a lifetime chasing/pursuing happiness and never grab hold of it. While the "enlightened" or perhaps "wise" individual comes along and says,"happiness is from within" or "happiness is not attainable, you must learn to be content." Wow! That is mind blowing. Then I quickly retreat to my logical self, "happiness depends on circumstances and happiness cannot be achieved until everything is in place for it to exist, so enjoy it while it lasts and move on." Both concepts peak my interest, and I must continue to explore. Wisdom is the key, but understanding opens the door. "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you." Proverbs 4:5-6.
Wisdom is applied knowledge. Understanding is knowing why this knowledge is applied ; when and where. You need to know when to speak and when to be quiet. When given the chance to speak, you must speak wisely. You must know when to act and when to be still. "Be still and know that I am God.." Psalm 46:10. Many people live a lifetime and never gain understanding. It shows in their actions or lack thereof. That is why it is such a beautiful thing when you listen to and/or observe someone "who gets it." The apostle Paul got it when he accepted that God's grace was sufficient and that he needed not to dwell on his discomfort, but to move forward in the assurance that God had his back. No wonder he could proclaim loudly and confidently that he was content. Look closely and you will see that he chose contentment.
In the Scripture Philippians 4:11, the apostle Paul shares that he has learned to be content no matter what is going on in his life, and he had some serious things going on. If we read about him in the Bible, we find that he had some sort of irritation; mental or physical we do not know. However, we do know it was so awful that he asked God to remove it. Our God who knows best did not remove it. We may wonder way and maybe Paul wondered why. `God gave him the solution to deal with it. "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul embraced the message. "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Now, at first glance, you may say God's response to Paul was cold. But think for a moment about all the people that you know of or have heard of who have had all obstacles removed from their lives by someone else in an effort to make their lives perfect and carefree. Most times they will be lacking in humility and gratitude. Check it out for yourself. If you have lived any length of time, you know that these two attributes (humility and gratitude) help make life more rewarding.
In our world/society today, we have so many things coming at us; it feels almost impossible to be content. We have almost forgotten about God's grace. We get so caught up in "becoming." We lose ourselves along the way; sometimes we do not know what we are pursuing; wealth, happiness, health, enlightenment, fame and the fortune that more than likely will accompany it, love, etc. Then one day you are listening to a preacher or someone on a podcast, and it becomes clear. You can get off this endless treadmill and embrace what you always knew. You need fulfillment, and it can be found in you. That person who is sharing this wisdom may not look like you or even be of the same faith, but he is speaking the truth. Truth is recognizable, and it does resonate with others who know it. That is what draws you in; at least that is what draws me in.
Many embark on the pursuit of money and when they finally amass a huge sum, they are miserable. Why? Because there is no warmth, joy or peace in money. Yes, it can buy a whole lot of things, but we find that "things" or accumulating possessions in great abundance or large amounts, if you will, does not satisfy for long. Some have tried to fill the void with drugs, sex, alcohol, work, etc. These cannot fill the void within us. That void is meant to be filled by our Creator. Unable to rid ourselves of this emptiness, we find ourselves back to where we started; empty vessels. Then, you flip the channels (just a for instance) on your tv and there you see some person who is wise because he has understood God's wisdom and has put it into his own words so that others can understand. Fortunately for me, I had parents and grandparents who discovered God's well of wisdom and passed it on to me. Let me stop here to say that I did not instantly get what they were trying to get me to receive and understand. It took years and some experiences that warranted me seeking answers. (You can read between the lines).
I can say this: Once we allow the Creator to fill that void in us, we have everything and can do all things because of Him. "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13. Once He indwells you, you have what you need to live your best life. Life can drive you inward or out. Something on the inside of me was guiding my life and guarding my "out." It took years for me to understand. My grandmother's prayers for me had not fallen on deaf ears. I did not always make the wisest decisions, but I always believed that there was something within me that allowed me to pick myself up when I stumbled and I knew that somehow God carried me when I needed it most. I can unequivocally say now that God lives on the inside, and He enables me to center my life and to strive to be what He wants me to be in this world. Do I always get it right? No. Do I want to? Yes.
We are finite creatures, and it is only natural that we come to understand the brevity of life. It is what it is. Many want to make a difference; leave a legacy. This is not being morbid; rather living life to its fullest should be a thing of joy and a benefit to others. The truth is you must focus in order to live your best life. Focus on what, you say? Your life, of course. You must go deep within yourself and come up with how you are going to
maximize the potential for your life. No comparing yourself to others is allowed. Ask yourself what you can do or practice starting right now that will lead you to your maximum potential in life. Are you doing it already? Kudos to you! But, if you are not sure, take an inventory. This is private; you can be completely honest. You do not have to share this with anyone.
I always go to my private place in my bedroom to consult with God. My weakness is that I must learn to be a better listener; as I must listen for His answer and then move forward with humility, trust and gratitude. Yes, I have learned to be content in many (not all) circumstances. Each day I strive to be better. But, when I stumble or misstep, I go back within to the source. Living my best life means that I am living in accordance with the will of my Creator which requires that I love Him, myself and others. I am in pursuit of wholeness. This means being the best that I can be with what God gave me. "What you are looking for is within you." Prem Rawat.
Likewise, we need to know or at least have an idea of what we are searching for. Most want to be fulfilled, to reach one's fullest potential. How do we get to that place of being satisfied with life once we get there? Only you can answer this for yourself. I will learn to be content.
The parable of the talents in Mathew 25:14-30 has aways been a standard that I try to live by because it shows the accountability and responsibility of what it means to do the most with what you have or have been given. To summarize this parable: The master of house leaves each of his three servants with "talents" (money) and he goes away on a long trip. Each was given a different amount. Two of the servants doubled their "talents" by the time the master returned. The third servant did nothing with the "talent." In fact, he buried it and accused the master of being harsh. The two servants who had maximized their talents, were further blessed while the servant who did nothing was reprimanded. The moral here is that we are expected to make the most of our lives. In this process, we are to be content.
In the process of making the most of your existence, can you truly say that you have done your best and are satisfied with where you are? This human nature dictates that we always want more; but not always of the right things. This desire must be curtailed or you and I will never attain contentment. Like Paul, we must learn to be content and do all that we can to be the best that God wants us to be. If you were to give an account of your life to God today, can you say to God that you have done the most with what He has have given you? Something to think about. If need be, do something about it right now. (Read Isaiah 55:6-7).
"There is no end to craving. Hence, contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment." Swami Sivananda. True fulfillment is living up to your God-given potential and it results in contentment.
Are you content?
Quick quiz: Answer this question. "Are you satisfied with what you have? If you are, then you are on your way to finding contentment or you are content. "True contentment is not having everything, but in being satisfied with everything you have." Oscar Wilde.
Do you compare yourself and/or your accomplishments to that of others? Stop! You do not know how others have accumulated what they have. "Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of the many wicked." Psalm 37:16. Whatever you have, express/show gratitude and keep moving.
Do you find yourself feeling/thinking that you have missed your chance for fulfillment because of your age? Nonsense! "As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, do it." Margaret Deland. Remember, Moses was 80 years old when he set out on his mission from God to Pharaoh in Egypt to gain the release (from bondage) of the children of Israel. Abraham was 75 years of age when he was called by God to leave out from among his people and go to the land of Canaan. So, it's never too late. With God all things are possible.
Do you ever feel that you do not have what it takes, that you do not measure up? Again, nonsense! Moses had a speech impediment and tried to talk God out of sending him to Egypt. Guess what, God already knew about this impediment and sent a mouthpiece (Aaron, Moses' older brother) with Moses. Problem solved. God knows what you need before you need it. He is with you. Get going!
Always do your best, and God will do the rest. We may not be able to control the circumstances, but we can control our response. Look within. Choose life, love and contentment. Therein you will find joy and fulfillment; YOUR BEST LIFE. Be content!
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