God’s been doing a work in my life. He’s in the process of re-ordering my priorities. I’ve had to give up, let go, press on, fight through, and beg to survive it all emotionally. But the obedience has been there.
Or has it?
When my son was eight years old, he obeyed so beautifully. The reason I say “beautifully” is because he not only complied the first time we asked him to do something, but he did so cheerfully, willingly and calmly. As his freedoms have increased and the innocence of the younger years has decreased, that’s changed a tad (much to be expected with a teenager). He still obeys, but often he’s irritated about it. Resistant. Reluctant.
It’s the pattern I’ve noticed in my spiritual life. I’ve been on the track to Godliness, growing up in Him for awhile now. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend time in His Word, talking to Him, preaching of Him or serving with Him. He is my constant help. And I obey, but often I’m irritated about it. Like a spiritual teenager, I'm Resistant. Reluctant.
I hold back from complete surrender.
After a few weeks of asking, He finally showed me why. My agitated resistance is caused by an unwillingness to suffer—to experience discomfort. I looked up the word “suffer,” because I thought, Lord, I’ve got it so good. What do I know of suffering? Here’s how the definition read in Merriam Webster online:
1 a: to submit to or be forced to endure
2: undergo , experience
3: to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable
4: to allow especially by reason of indifference
1: to endure death, pain, or distress
2: to sustain loss or damage
3: to be subject to disability or handicap
Wowzer. To experience true contentment in Christ, I need to be willing to suffer—to put up with, to undergo, to sustain loss or damage...to submit. I need to endure the pain of dying to my own wishes.
“Then He (Jesus) said to the crowd,
‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways,
take up your cross daily and follow me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
(Luke 9:23-24, NLT)
Does any of this resonate with you? What does “you must turn from your selfish ways” mean to you? Is there anything you’re clinging to other than Him as your source for life?
The cross was all about true, deep, perfect love...but it was also heavy and painful. Non-resistant. Willing.
His Word tells us that Godliness is worth striving for, but we gain so much more when it is accompanied with contentment. Godliness is a beautiful thing when it’s lived out of the overflow of the believer’s heart. But add contentment to the equation, and you’ve gained a whole bunch that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Stuff like peace and joy and true satisfaction. All of this comes from a life that is willing to surrender, my friends, even if pain is involved. Ouch—it hurt just saying that.
This doesn’t mean we don’t have legitimate concerns about something or that we aren’t angered with the unrighteousness of the world we live in.
But it reminds us that we have no bone to pick with the one true God of the universe.Here’s what the Lord showed me after doing a short (and incomplete) study on the subject:
Discontentment comes from:
• a bored heart (Ecclesiastes 1:7-9)
• a restless heart (Psalm 131:2)
• a contentious heart (Proverbs 15:18, 22:10; Titus 3:9)
• a comparing heart (2 Corinthians 10:12)
• a self-important heart (Matthew 23:11; Colossians 3:3-4, 12; 1 Peter 5:6)
• an unwilling heart (Isaiah 26:7)
• an ungrateful heart (Philippians 4:11-12)
• an unsatisfied heart (Ecclesiastes 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:8; Luke 3:14)
• an ungodly heart (1 Timothy 6:6, Proverbs 19:23)
• an untrusting heart (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:7-9)
I’m sure there are many more, but this is just where the Holy Spirit took me as I searched the Word. Do any of these describe your heart right now? There is no doubt in my mind that contentment is one of the vulnerable areas the enemy is quick to attack. It is a root of many evils in our world today. It’s what has our nation crying out for “change,” the masses in panic over the stock market, our kids asking for more and their parents searching for significance, success and the fountain of youth.
I’m not content to live with discontentment anymore. You with me? Even if pain is involved in the process, I want to gain the Spirit-filled life the Lord has offered me as I willingly surrender my resistance to Him.