“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Phil.4:11-12)
One of my favorite places to get renewed, refreshed, and relaxed is the beach. There’s just something about going to the beach that makes my heart happy and puts my mind at ease. We’ve all been on those vacations that are the complete opposite of relaxation. After those kinds of “vacations,” you really need another vacation from the one you just went on to recover. But the beach is one of those places that I feel so rested when I return. So much so, that at times I would rather live in my little fun, relaxation bubble and not return to the real world.
When I’m at the beach, life is simply easy. I’m not thinking about home and all of the things I need to do or work on. There are no lists at the beach. My mind and heart are at ease. I can clearly think, dream, rest, and enjoy each day to the fullest. It seems as though I can hear the Lord’s voice and sense his presence so much easier than when I am back home.
One morning, I was sitting on the patio of the condo, looking at the pool, the waves of the ocean, and all my surroundings. Then I noticed something. Everything seemed and looked so content. Everything from the slight breeze swaying the tree leaves, to the moving yet calm waves. Yes, people are going to begin gathering on the beach and filling the pool, but at that moment it was all peaceful.
I began thinking to myself “Why do I have to come to the beach to feel peace and contentment; to hear God speak more clearly and sense His presence? It’s easy when I’m back at home to compare my season to others and to wrestle with unfulfilled promises and prayers yet to be answered. It’s easy to look at what everyone else is doing and feel discouraged because I’m missing out on the fun. So why do I feel so much peace here, yet let fear and worry creep in when I am at home?”
How do I become content in my mind from the work I need to do, the prayers yet to be answered and dreams yet to be fulfilled? Contentment from worry and control, knowing that God can handle people and situations WAY better than I can. Contentment despite my shortcomings and the guilt that I place on myself when I don’t live up to my own personal standards.
How do we live in constant peace and contentment (not settled or slacking) in our everyday lives? How do we slow our thoughts to realize that God’s got this? That I don’t need to worry when my timing isn’t God’s timing? How do I hear him so clearly when I’m home in the midst of everyday life, the noise, and to-do lists?
Contentment means a state of satisfaction or peaceful happiness. It doesn’t mean that you are complacent or unwilling to learn. It is a mindset of peace knowing God is in control. So how do we live in a state of peace and contentment regardless of where we are physically or what our surroundings might be?
1. Constant Prayer
You are probably thinking, “Prayer? Well duh, Elizabeth. What kind of Christian are you?!” 🙂 But I’m not talking about prayer just in the morning during your devotions or at night before bed. I’m talking about constant communication with God, all throughout the day. A keen awareness of His presence all throughout the day regardless of what you might be doing. Whether your fixing your kids’ lunches for school, while you’re answering emails, while you’re meeting with a friend, or taking care of a loved one, you’re in continual communication with the Holy Spirit and allowing him to lead and guide through every step of the day.
2. Unwavering Trust
I trust that God makes my “not enough” more than enough. That no matter what I’m currently facing or what lies ahead, God has given me grace and all that I need for TODAY. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning.” I just need to take it one step and one day at a time. Looking too far in advance and worrying about tomorrow and what could happen only takes my focus off of Him. That’s when the stress and worry come in. Everything I need for today, God has given me, and His presence goes before me.
So be encouraged, sweet friends. Contentment isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a learned discipline that takes time and intentionality. I’m so thankful that we don’t have to have it all figured out. Instead, we get to give it to God through our constant communication with him and unwavering trust that he has given us everything we need for today. Surrender your anxiety, dreams, worries, and disappointments to Him today and let His peace sink in and set your heart at ease. Give yourself some grace and just keep moving forward. One step at a time… moment by moment and watch what He does.