Content, But Not Satisfied
In the course of conversations with others who are endeavoring to follow Christ, there are two questions that tend to come up: “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” and “Can I do more?”
As a matter of full disclosure, I find myself asking the same questions about every three to six months. For some, these questions can be a matter of insecurity, but for most, they are honest wonderings. I think they are healthy. They challenge the tension between satisfaction and contentment. When it comes to the things of God, we should never be satisfied. His love is eternal. His goodness is eternal. His mercy is eternal. He is eternal. To be satisfied with our relationship would be missing the best He has for us. We are, however, to be content through all circumstances, as that is a reflection of a sound spiritual foundation.
Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
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.
Paul did not let his circumstances dictate his relationship with God. He also did not let complacency rule.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
…. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
If there ever was someone who deserved to take it easy, it would be Paul. But that is not how he interpreted his life and calling. And I believe God desires for each of us a similar perspective.
Over the years, I have found some great guidelines for keeping myself on course and thought I’d share them with you.
Don’t compare yourself to others. There is no such thing as important or non-important, large assignments or small assignments, in the Kingdom of God. What’s important is obedience.
Unless you have a distinct revelation to change what you are doing, keep doing the same thing. Confusion is not revelation, difficulty is not revelation, frustration is not revelation, and boredom is not revelation.
The Holy Spirit will lead you if you remain submitted to Him.
Do everything well, regardless of how you interpret the value of the assignments. In my early years of ministry, I fell prey to the lie that my effectiveness for Kingdom work was determined by numbers. The question I challenge myself with now is not “How many am I helping?” but “Am I faithful to do my best at every opportunity?”
As long as you endeavor to be submitted to the Holy Spirit and keep your trust in God, He will clarify any fogginess you might have along the way.
If you are being honest toward the Lord regarding your desire to be His and live for His purposes, the pressure is not on you to figure out His plan. It is up to Him to reveal it and lead you through it. In fact, your relationship with Him should rarely involve anxiety, stress, or pressure. In my own life, God and I are always at peace unless I am in rebellion.
God’s desire for you to fulfill His purposes is greater than yours, and He will be with you every step of the way. His plan is not overwhelming. Even when the journey is challenging, there can be joy in the process.
1 John 5:3 (NLT)
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
In reviewing these guidelines, if you can honestly say you follow them pretty well, then when you ask yourself what God wants you to do, you can probably say you are already doing it, regardless of how unglamorous it may seem. When it comes to the second question, “Can I do more?” Yes, you probably can, but is that what He wants?
When it comes to hearing and following God’s will in my life, I have found the following prayer to be quite helpful: Lord, you know how easily I can be deceived. Please make it so obvious I can’t miss it. And He always does.
A New Opportunity:
As part of our effort to work with those incarcerated as they prepare for their release back into society, we have decided to go into the Bible giveaway business. The most important resource is a good Bible. There are Bibles available in most jails and prisons, but we have found that if the inmates get one from us, there is a personal connection that encourages them to explore our other opportunities. We were experimenting with this through another organization, but they recently notified us that they can no longer provide this service. One of our team said, “We get Bible requests all the time. What do we tell them now?” I responded, “Well, maybe we should get into the Bible business. We’ll just add that on to what we are already doing.” It has resonated positively with everyone I shared it with so far. So, we’re going to give it a try. Who knows, it could end up being the most important thing we do.