“I wish we could get a cow,” I heard my son say from the living room. “What?” I responded, not sure I had heard him right. I turned off the water at the sink where I stood washing dishes. “A cow costs too much. But we could get chickens.” He held up the World Vision gift catalog for me to see. “Oh. Yes, a cow is much more than you guys have saved” I said, thankful that he didn’t actually want a cow of his own. Each year my boys save their change and then buy a present for Jesus. Last year, they filled out this printable I found online, a letter to Jesus, telling him that they wanted to save their money to help the least of these. We recently counted up the money they saved over this year and talked about how they wanted to use it. My son found the World Vision gift catalog that had just come in the mail and browsed through all the ways they could help those in need. I also told them about an opportunity we had to join friend’s of our ours who recently moved to Nicaragua in reaching out to the poor in their small coastal village. In the end, the boys chose to divide their money between chickens and helping provide for needs in a remote Nicaraguan village. This time of year can be hard for children to keep their hearts focused on others. They are bombarded with commercials and ads telling them they need the latest toys and gadgets. Soon, they forget that it is Christ we are celebrating and not ourselves. Developing family traditions that involve intentional giving to those in need can help turn our children’s focus from themselves to others. In our family, it is something we talk about all year as my children fill their special money jar for giving at Christmas time. We also put together a shoebox filled with toys and necessesities for Samaritan’s Purse to give to a child in need. On December 6, we like to pretend to be St. Nicholas (December 6 is traditionally St. Nicholas Day) and fill stockings with needed items and give them to a shelter or some ministry that serves those in need. We receive catalogs from a number of ministries that serve those in need around the world. I like to leave those lying around so that we will browse through them (maybe instead of toy catalogs!) and be thinking about what we can buy for someone else. Truly, the options for giving are endless. Here are a few more thoughts and ideas on giving: 1. Shop ministry catalogs together as a family: Compassion, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Blood Water Mission. They give opportunities to purchase medicine, access to water, animals, education and more. 2. Sponsor a child together as a family through Compassion or World Vision. 3. Participate in an Angel Tree gift giving event. 4. Donate to a missionary or ministry organization as a family. 5. If money is tight, donate time instead. There are many ministries that need able bodies and hands to do the work it takes to serve those in need. Or offer to help do yard work, house repairs or some other job for an elderly or sick person that you know. 6. Donate gently used toys and books to a local ministry. Have your children go through what they don’t use anymore and take them to a ministry that will give them to children in need. 7. Bake cookies or some other treat and take them to a shut in, nursing home, or to a lonely neighbor. 8. There’s a cute little book for young ones called Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time where children in a classroom share with one another the Biblical reasons for giving to others.*
“Mom, I need to add something to my Christmas wish list.”
It’s that time of year again. The stores are adorned with all things red and green. Mailboxes and inboxes are filled with ads, sales, and catalogs. Prettily wrapped packages are at the forefront of nearly everyone’s minds — especially kids’.
Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to pour the truths of the gospel into the hearts of our children. It’s an ideal time to show them the greatest gift they could ever receive, the gift of Jesus Christ.
Below is a list of important truths to teach our children this Christmas:
1. The Story of Redemption
During Advent, with the anticipation of the 25th, we can teach and prepare our children for the celebration in Scripture of Jesus’s birth. In our family, we like to begin with the story of Creation and daily walk through the story of redemption until we get to Christ’s birth on Christmas day. We talk about the fall and God’s promise of a Savior in Genesis 3:15. We read about his promise to Abraham that he reaffirms throughout the Old Testament. We discuss Moses and the “one greater than Moses” who would come. We read the prophecies in Isaiah. We look at how all of the Bible points to our Redeemer….to read the rest of this post, visit Desiring God, one of my other writing homes.
The signs, tastes, and smells of Christmas are everywhere. Like so many, I always look forward to this time of year. It is a special time of slowing down, of savoring the sweet moments with friends and family and of focusing my heart on Christ and his birth.
The word “advent” means arrival or coming of something anticipated. The weeks preceding Christmas is a time of waiting as we prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ child. Like Mary, we “ponder these things” about Christ. We wonder in amazement and marvel with joy that God would take on flesh and enter this messy world of ours. Advent gives us the opportunity to dwell on the Love that arrived in the most unexpected of places, a stable. And it reminds us that we are awaiting the second Advent and Christ’s final return.
Though I love Advent, in reality I am not very good at waiting. In fact, I am a rather impatient person. It drives me crazy when I send my children to put on their shoes and they get distracted during the ten feet they have to walk to get their shoes. I don’t like traffic and I think life would be better if the grocery store opened a lane just for me when I arrive with my shopping cart to check out.
I’m not alone. This preference for life to move at a steady, if not in over-drive pace, is common in our culture. We thrive on instant gratification. We don’t tolerate lines, slow computers, and saving before we buy. Our news and information must come in 140 characters or less or we just won’t read it. Instead of living in and enjoying the moment, we have already passed the moment by, pushing our way into the future.
The Israelites were not keen on waiting either. When Moses went on the mountain to be with God, they grew weary of waiting for his return. They decided that perhaps he had died and left them on their own. So while he was alive and well on the mountain, receiving the law written in God’s own hand, the people were in the valley, constructing a golden calf to worship instead of the one true God.
Too often, this is the story of my own heart. I refuse to wait for God and instead construct idols, false substitutes and counterfeit lovers to fill the void. But I want to wait. I want to be found faithful in the valleys of life. I want to live with restlessness, choosing to wait, rather than creating idols that can never satisfy. I want to cast aside all the cheap imitations and save my appetite for the real thing.
“Not everyone can wait; neither the sated nor the satisfied nor those without respect can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them and people who look up with reverence to the greatest in the world. Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us–the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendome!” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Like a fruit picked well before ripeness, rushing through life leaves a sour and bitter taste. Much is missed when we speed through our days in a blur. The truth is, the most important and beautiful things that come from waiting. Seeds planted, then watered and provided sun, grow full and healthy until the harvest. Nine months of pregnancy results in the birth of a precious child. A friendship nurtured over time results in deep trust. When the heart is quiet, contemplative in prayer, and meditates on God’s word, the waiting results in a soul filled full and satisfied.
“Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Henri J. M. Nouwen)
I pray that we are those who can wait. I pray for quiet hearts that seek Christ in the midst of tinsel, pretty wrapping paper, parties and wish lists. As we go through Advent, pondering the story of Christmas and awaiting the Christ-child, may it remind us of the waiting we do for his second coming. And when he returns, may he find us faithful, ready to feast on the complete joy found only in him.
How are you at waiting? Are you satisfied by temporary pleasures and imposters or will you wait for the real thing?
I walked by our Thanksgiving Tree standing on the dining table and glanced at each of its leaves. On every leaf was scrawled an item or phrase of something the kids were thankful for. As I looked at the reasons they had to give thanks, I was pleased and grateful that they had found so many things to write down. “My dart board.” “Nerf guns.” “My friends.”
But the more I thought about it, verses such as these came to mind: “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (Psalm 7:17) “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). Wanting to help my children understand that all the good things in their life flow from one source, I asked them, “What can we be thankful for other than stuff? Because, this time of year, everyone is thankful for their things. As believers, don’t we have something to be thankful for other than our belongings?”
“Our breath” said my youngest.
“Mercy and grace” my oldest contributed.
“God’s discipline” my youngest tossed out.
I talked to them about verses like those in the Psalms and reminded them that we are to give thanks to God, not just because he gives us good things, but because he is good himself. We ought to praise him because he is loving, merciful, and gracious. Even his discipline is an act of his love toward us because we are his children (Hebrews 12). God’s character and all of his attributes are worthy of our worship and praise.
The truth is, it’s easy to give thanks for the material things we have. It’s easy to give thanks for fun experiences, vacations, gifts, and when life goes the way we want. But we can struggle to give thanks when life is mundane and boring. Or when life is hard. Or when we think we deserve better than we’re given.
When it comes to giving thanks, it isn’t about us and whether God is doing what we want Him to do in our life. It’s about Him. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. He deserves praise, honor, and worship simply because He is holy, righteous, and good.
And when we don’t give thanks, when we hold it back because life is hard, we are in a sense robbing God of the thanks and praise that he is due. Because whether he blesses us in abundance or takes us through a dark valley of suffering, he always deserves praise and thanksgiving simply because he is God and he is good. This is why the four living creatures in John’s vision of heaven never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8)
In fact, giving thanks is what we were made for. The Westminster Confession says that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Praise, honor, worship, thanksgiving, and gratitude is what our heart was made to do. Giving thanks to God and having a grateful heart isn’t some trendy thing to follow. It’s not just a fun Facebook activity we don’t want to miss out on. It’s not a feel good exercise to greater self-fulfillment. And it’s not something we only do during the month of November. Living a life of gratitude is simply living out what we were created to do.
The beautiful thing about doing what we were made for is that it brings us great joy. It completes us, fulfills us, and satisfies us. Knowing God and responding to his wonder and beauty with thanksgiving and praise is the very thing and only thing that fills all the empty places of the heart.
This Thanksgiving season, as we consider all the reasons we have to be thankful, may we not mistake the gift for the Giver. May we remember that all the good things God gives us are an overflow from his goodness. And may we return thanks to him, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of our lives.
“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2
“Mom, when will we get out our Advent Box?” my son asked the other day. This is a tradition we have had since he was a baby and one he looks forward to each year.
Do you have any favorite Christmas traditions from when you were a child? Perhaps it is going together as a family to pick out the perfect tree. Maybe it’s the cookies you baked together with your mom. Traditions are important to us. They give us an anchor and bind us together with our family. Traditions make us feel connected and give us a sense of belonging.
In the Bible, traditions were important to God’s people. God instructed them to celebrate certain feasts and festivals each year. These events were to be used to reflect and remind God’s people of all God had done for them. Parents were instructed to use these festivals to teach their children about God and what He had done for His people.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance…And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Exodus 12: 14, 26-27
Christmas is an opportune time for Christian parents to “teach Jesus” to their children. Teaching them about what Jesus has done is not simply about reading to them the Christmas story, though it is certainly not less than that. It’s an opportunity to show our children how all of Scripture tells us about Jesus, how as The Jesus Storybook Bible puts it, “every story whispers his name.”
There are many different activities and ways to do this. Some families use an Advent wreath (and we have one of those) and some make a Jesse Tree (another great idea). Our favorite Christmas tradition is our “Advent Box.” When I was a child, I remember having an Advent calendar where each day I tore open the door and inside was a piece of chocolate. There is something fun about opening a little door each day to find a hidden surprise.
For our children, we have a wooden Advent Box with twenty-five doors. Inside each door I place an object that relates to what I want my children to learn during the Christmas season. I also place objects that signify an activity we might be doing that day. Since there are so many activities that we do during the holidays (putting up a tree, wrapping presents, baking cookies, sending cards, visiting a live nativity, etc.), I want to use these activities to point my children to Jesus. I also want to use the Advent season to read through the story of redemption with my children. And for each object that they pull out, I have a corresponding Bible passage that we read.
Here are a few examples:
1. I like to start out the first few days focusing on the promised Savior. Day one might have a small apple that will represent the Fall of mankind and the Savior promised in Genesis 3:15. We will read the passage and discuss it. The next day might have a little scroll behind the door. That day we read the prophecies in Isaiah about Jesus’ birth. We talk about how all of the Old Testament points to the promised Savior.
2. I also include objects that tell the story surrounding Jesus’ birth. Examples include: The angel telling Mary about Jesus, Mary’s Song, the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the shepherd’s visiting the manger, etc. (Objects I use might include a small angel ornament, a small sheep, a donkey, etc.)
3. In addition, I like to include passages that speak of why Jesus was born, about His second coming and the great wedding feast. I like to include a small cross and read passages about Jesus’ death. We also enjoy reading books like “The Princes Poison Cup” by R.C. Sproul. Other objects I include are a small trumpet ornament as an object to represent the second Advent and confetti to represent the great wedding feast.
4. For the various activities we do during the holidays, I include an object about the activity and a passage to read. If we are wrapping presents one day, I will put a little bow in the Advent box and we read John 3:16. If we are baking cookies or some other treat, I will include passages about Jesus being the Bread of Life. If we are purchasing gifts to give the homeless or someone else in need, I include a small communion cup and we read the passage from Matthew 25:37. If we plan to drive around looking at Christmas lights that evening, I will include a little light bulb and we will read the verse about Jesus being the light of the world.
The objects I use are really anything I can find that is small enough to fit in the box. Many of them are ornaments. The boys have their own small tree in their bedroom. As they accumulate ornaments throughout Advent, they add them to their tree.
There are a number of different activities to do during the holidays to point our children to Christ. The Advent box is one way we like to keep the focus of the holiday on our Lord.
To see a sample of the passages we read and objects I place in our box, click here. For more inspiration on making your own Advent traditions, see: Treasuring God in Our Traditions and Christmas Out of the Advent Box: Reclaiming Christmas for Fun, Faith and Family
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more Advent ideas!
How about you? What is your family’s favorite Advent tradition? Please share your ideas!
“Hello? Anybody home?” I overheard one son say these words to his brother in a voice laced with sarcasm. As I watched their interaction my heart was pierced with conviction. It was my own words and tone coming from the mouth of my nine year old son.
Before I became a mother, I always assumed motherhood would be hard. I expected challenges. I knew it would change me and stretch me. Recently, my oldest turned nine years old and as I look back, I realize just how much God has used the challenges of motherhood to transform me from the inside out.
Motherhood is Hard
In the early days and months as I adjusted to motherhood, I battled depression, sleepless nights, fears and worries, and all the uncertainties of being a new mom. As the months turned into years and as another child came along, it only seemed to get harder. I frequently turned to the dog-eared pages of my favorite resources for advice on how to care for my children. I followed the suggestions from websites and blogs I read. But the challenges of motherhood never abated. I wondered, why is everything so chaotic? Why does life seem so out of control? Why is it so hard?
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My kids recently came across our wedding video. Yes, you read that right, video. In fact, I had to explain to them what a VHS is. We then dug out our old VCR and showed them our wedding ceremony. As I watched my barely-adult-self stand before friends and family and commit the rest of my life to my husband, I heard the sounds of singing as the audience stood and sang the old hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”
Nowadays, weddings are so short, hymns or songs are rarely included in a wedding ceremony anymore. But for us, this hymn is one that defines and explains how our marriage has stood the test of time all these years later: Christ as our vision. “Be Thou My Vision” is a beautiful hymn, describing Christ as our everything, our complete delight, our treasure and our very heart. What does this have to do with marriage and why did we sing it at our wedding?
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Sitting on the concrete garage floor, I surveyed the artifacts from my life. Piles of school papers surrounded me. Photos from friends all the way back to elementary school lay scattered about. Awards, ribbons, Brownie patches, drawings, writings, and more lay there waiting for me to make a decision.
What would I get rid of?
For my birthday last month, I requested a family garage cleaning day. The garage had become an eye sore over the past year. It was littered with piles of things we didn’t know what to do with or where to put them. No doubt, the garage was in desperate need of cleaning, organizing, and purging.
Part of that purging process involved me going through my bins of memorabilia from birth to the day I got married. (I think I had every worksheet I completed in 6th grade alone!) While there were things I wanted to save like the newspaper I started in high school, awards from fine art competitions, drawings, articles I wrote for the church newsletter, and yes, maybe even a troll doll–I didn’t need the rest.
Cleaning out the garage is an overwhelming process. It made me think of other areas in my life that needed cleaning out, like my heart. It gets filled and cluttered and could use its own organizing, cleansing and purging. Sins, idols, guilt’s, fears, worries, and baggage from the past all lay piled up, taking over space meant for God alone. I carry these things in my heart around with me wherever I go. They weigh me down, drag me down, and pin me down.
Sometimes, I wonder, can my home be a physical representation of what is going on in my heart? When it is disorganized, piled up, in chaos and disarray, could it be because my heart is in disarray? As I avoid and dread the cleaning up in my house, are there things in my heart I avoid facing? The more piles and clutter I create in my physical space, does it equal the clutter in my own heart?
And then when my home is spotless and I have an absolute “no touch policy” for the kids, when I’m consumed with keeping everything spotless and perfect, does it reflect an internal obsession with self-righteousness, self-reliance, and spiritual superiority?
If so, perhaps these messes, like that in my garage, are warning signs for me that my heart needs cleansing.
My son received the book Pilgrim’s Progress for his birthday. We’ve been reading it together at night before bed. One of his first comments was, “Their names reflect who they are!” That’s because there’s Hopeful, Faithful, Obstinate, Pliable, Charity, Mistrust, and Graceless, just to name a few. If my name reflected my own heart, many times I would go by the names Worrisome, Fearful, Overwhelmed, and Discouraged.
In the allegory, Christian is on a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. He carries a great burden on his back that slows him down. Once he even falls into the Slough of Despond. It isn’t until he arrives to the foot of the cross that his burden falls off his back, freeing him forever.
The great irony is, I am not bound by my burdens. The baggage I carry around in my heart–its bonds have already been cut. Christ bore each and every burden, every sin and all my guilt and shame on the cross for me so I wouldn’t have to. So the question is, why do I continue to carry around guilt, worries, and sins if I don’t have to? Like my bins full of papers and things I can’t even remember doing or remember why I bothered to keep them–why do I carry around such baggage in my heart?
The great wonder and glory of the gospel is that Jesus didn’t just save me once at the cross and then send me on my merry way. My Christian life isn’t like how many view it, an opportunity for a clean slate, a kind of do-over. Rather, the gospel is available to me every moment of every day. Like Christian, I need to bring my burdens to Christ and his blood will cover them all.
Walking out into the garage now doesn’t fill me with dread. I don’t hate going out there anymore. Getting rid of all the stuff we no longer needed was freeing. When it comes to my heart, I can feel that same sense of freedom. Heart cleansing is available to me whenever I need it. And like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, I can walk the journey of faith to the Celestial City weightless and burden free.
So, the garage is down. Up next–the closets!
“…God, help me to be repentant. And help me to cross the river to the Celestial City. Amen.”
My youngest prayed this prayer after we finished reading the famed allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress: John Bunyan’s Classic Story Adapted for Children. Next to the Bible, it has sold the most copies of books since it’s publishing in the seventeenth century. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory, or a symbolic narrative, about the Christian life. If you are not familiar with the story, Pilgrim’s Progress is about a man named Christian who goes on a journey to the Celestial City. Leaving the City of Destruction behind, he must stay on the narrow path and along the way he is tempted, wanders off the path, meets fellow travelers and even gets captured by a giant named Despair. Each step of the story symbolizes the journey we as Christians take in this life of faith.
Allegories are useful and helpful ways to share the truth of God’s word with children. After all, even in Scripture, God communicates to us in words and concepts that we understand. Jesus taught the disciples through parables and word pictures. The Bible uses the example of marriage to explain our relationship with God. Agrarian related stories abound through the Bible. Jesus is compared to a vine and a shepherd. Christians are related to sheep and land stewards. Even Nathan used a symbolic story to point out David’s sin to him in 2 Samuel 12. The book of Proverbs uses analogies and word pictures to explain the way of wisdom. Whenever possible, the inspired writer’s of Scripture used examples from everyday life to help explain spiritual concepts.
As parents, we can use allegories and symbolic stories to explain spiritual truths to our children. We can make up our own stories and use them during teaching moments or in discipline. I’ve done something similar to what Nathan did with David with my own children. We could also encourage our children to think of their own symbolic stories to explain a spiritual truth they have learned. There are also many wonderful allegories already written for children. Aside from Pilgrim’s Progress, The Chronicles of Narnia are the most well-known example. We can’t help but think of Jesus when Aslan takes Edmund’s place, accepting the punishment he deserved.
Below, I have listed some of our favorite allegorical books:
Have you taught your children spiritual truths using your own parables, allegories, or analogies? Do you and your children have a favorite allegorical book?
Crunch. The sound of my shoes echoes with each step. I look down at the leaves covering the forest floor. It’s as though the trees have disrobed and blanketed the trail with their golden hued cloaks. As I walk, leaves continue to rain down around me. Wearing shades of yellow, red, and brown, they dance in the rays of light that shine across my path.
This is the place where I feel most alive. The air is crisp and cool but my hike up and down the mountain trail keeps me warm. Feeling like a child, I pick up the pace and race the kids down the path. I marvel at God’s handiwork all around me, his glory awakening my dull senses. I think about how the autumnal transformation in the trees is really the revealing of their true colors. No longer producing food, they lose their verdant hue, uncovering the deep reds, bright yellows, and rustic orange shades that now dot the landscape.
I always thought I’d live in the mountains but instead I live by the sea. The disparity between the longings of my heart, of being where I feel most alive, and the place God has put me these past seventeen years is wide. Overtime my discontentment has grown and spread, breeding bitterness, selfishness, and anger. For my heart, discontentment has been like a slow leak, gradually draining me of joy and peace.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “Bloom where you are planted.” These proverbial statements are spoken to encourage us to make the best of what we have. It is certainly good advice, but it doesn’t get at the source of true contentment. We can’t just resolve to be content or “think happy thoughts” to dispel unhappy ones. Rather our contentment must be built on something more solid, more sure, and more lasting. Because the truth is, we are weak. Our resolve fades. The sin in our hearts leads us astray until we are right back where we started.
The Apostle Paul spoke about contentment in Philippians. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). For Paul, Christ was the source of his contentment. He knew that to live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21).
The truths of gospel, of who he was because of Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, were the foundation on which he stood. Paul knew that whether he lived with plenty or didn’t know where his next meal came from, he was secure in Christ. Because the Spirit of Christ lived in him, he had all he needed. In every situation, the Spirit strengthened him to face trials and tribulations. His security, joy, purpose, and satisfaction was in Christ, not his circumstances. This is the secret to contentment–not lemonade or blooming flowers or happy thoughts.
My discontentment comes from the same place as that of the discontent of the desert-wandering Israelites. My heart has turned away from its true love. I’ve attempted to fulfill my soul-thirst with something other than the pure living water that Christ died to give me. I’m focused on the comforts and cares of this life and not the one to come. I’ve failed to remember all that God did to deliver me from slavery and instead of living a life of gratitude, my heart only grumbles and complains.
Scripture points me to the way of true and lasting contentment. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When Christ is my delight and my source of joy, it changes the trajectory of my heart. What Christ wants, I want. Instead of looking at what I don’t have, my heart rejoices in all that I do have because of and through him. Love and gratitude transforms my desires so that they revolve around him and what pleases him. And like, Paul, no matter the circumstances, my well of contentment is deep and overflowing, for it flows freely from its source in Christ himself.
God places us in circumstances and situations that we often don’t understand. Sometimes he doesn’t give us what we want because he knows what we really need is not a change in situation but more of him. The more we grow to depend and trust in him, the more we find our joy in knowing him, and the more we seek him above all else, the more we will appreciate the manna he provides. Our grumbles will cease. Rather than complain about the challenges of life, we’ll look to Christ for contentment, security, and peace. All our desert wanderings will create in us a longing not for the slavery of the past but the glory of forever rest found in the Promised Land.
As I consider the beauty of the trees in autumn, my heart longs to bring my Creator glory in how I live. When seasons of winter lie before me, I want to reflect the radiance of Christ. Like the trees in fall, I want to live out my calling in submissive and joyful obedience. I want to find my contentment in being a redeemed daughter of the King, not in my circumstances, dreams, or plans. Will I ever move to the mountains? I don’t know. But I do know that not being where I long to be is a reminder of how this world is not my home. My true, forever home still awaits. And as long as Christ remains the joy and treasure of my heart, I will be content wherever I am because he is with me.
“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4
How about you? Has discontent drained your heart of joy?