Are you living in the future so much you can't enjoy the present?
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11 (NIV)
The spring air was crisp. Just right for a hike up Sparrow Hawk Mountain. Richard and I stood at the edge of the cliff, watching the winding river meander along the banks below.
When we moved here three years ago, this quickly became one of our favorite places to hike. "It's so beautiful," I said. And then with a sigh, "I wonder if we'll live here after you graduate."
Richard took me by my hands. "We live here now, Suzie," he said. "Don't you see that?"
No, honestly I didn't. We had moved to this small college community when Richard went back to school to receive his master's degree. We stayed on as he earned the 3,000 hours needed for his license. I saw our move as temporary, and even though it had been three years, I mentally lived in limbo.
I thought about our next move often. Where would God take us? Would it be somewhere new? Perhaps God would lead us back to our old community. I dreamed and planned it out over and over again. Not knowing where we'd end up made me discontented. I didn't feel settled or at peace.
That day, after coming down the mountain, I wrote in big letters in my journal: Live where you live.
It was time to put down roots right where I was, and be content in the present, regardless of where God might take us in the future.
Paul the apostle never knew exactly where he might be next. He landed in extremely difficult situations for a few days, and at other times lingered with new friends. Sometimes the doors opened immediately for his next move, and at other times he waited for years. But Paul was content where he was, wherever that might be, in whatever situation he found himself.
What was his secret? One commentary shares it like this:
Paul learned to leave it to others if they would, to be discontented. But he, on his part, learned by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the dealings of Providence (Hebrews 5:8), to be content in every state.
As I determined to "live where I live," rather than living with my thoughts and heart wrapped around a future I could not see, I began my days like this:
Father, show me Your plan for today and help me accept it.
God, let me not be so farsighted that I miss the miracles around me right now.
Lord, help me to celebrate small gifts of this day.
Slowly the door to contentment opened. I began to invest in the community I lived in, enjoyed the scenery even more, and developed relationships with those around me.
It's been two years since our conversation in Sparrow Hawk. Richard and I found out this past month that we are moving. God did indeed open a door that will uproot us to a new state with a new church, new friends and new possibilities.
I'm packing my house and preparing for the move, but just yesterday my neighbors dropped by with their girls.
Trinity, who is six, showed me a turtle she had found. Macey, age two, climbed in the flower bed to peek at a purple-striped petunia.
Yes, there are new adventures ahead, but today I celebrate the joy of having close neighbors, and am satisfied with sitting with a sweet toddler with a pretty petunia in her hair.
Dear Jesus, You are the God of my future. You whispered plans in my heart, but the journey to that destination is just as important. Help me plant roots in today, and be content with what is in front of me as I trust You with tomorrow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
We often celebrate the greater events in our life, but today let's celebrate the smaller ones: A neighbor who is kind. A good meal. Laughter of a child. A beautiful sky.
Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving as you celebrate each and every one of those gifts throughout the day.
1 Timothy 6:6-7, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (NIV)