Stolen in part from a tweet by Barry Cooper from his Think Tank
My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them-that is not the reason-but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself. Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment it is because they have but a little in the world, and that if they had more then they should be content. That is just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind, and then should think that the reason why he is not satisfied is because he has not got enough of the wind; no, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.
– The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
When we’re too busy, we want peace and quiet. When we have peace and quiet, we get bored. When we are bored, we get into trouble. And it’s this seemingly never ending cycle.
Much like for those of us who have been in and out of dating relationships for nearly two decades and are quickly approaching the “Holy Crap Seriously Where Is The Love of My Life” stage, the discontent wraps itself around us like a wool scratchy blanket on a stifling hot summer day, and we just can’t breathe, let alone sing for joy. We want out and we want it now. Stamp foot.
You can argue this “self-denial” clause in the Christian contract is so 80s… like 1280s. Leave it to the Benedictine Monks and the Sisters of Our Lady of Lords-a-leaping to be all content and happy and married to Jesus and all that jazz. They are called to that life and they also probably whistle a merry tune while birds and mice dress them in the mornings. It’s all good, brothers and sisters. You rock that habit and you pray for my soul.
Because here we are in the year of our Lord 2012, and I’m thinking it’s all about discontent and winter is very nearly over now and none too soon. Nobody wants to take up any cross, and we are all looking to live life hard and to the fullest.
But I do believe in my heart of hearts, that it is only in our DIScontent that we get anything done. We SHOULD be unhappy with a lot of things. When we get too content with how it is, we forget and fail to strive for what it COULD be. And how are we ever going to long for heaven and home if we are too happy here?
Sometimes I wonder, (and I have absolutely no Biblical basis for this whatsoever, so please don’t burn me at the stake cuz that would totally ruin my day) if Christ hasn’t come back for us yet because we don’t actually want him to? Like we are so busy trying to make this life and this place cool and rad, and we are getting so much pleasure in our little lives here, that we stopped praying collectively “Come quickly.” We pray, “Come quickly but let me (1) get married first, (2) have the predesignated number of children first, (3) go to Disney World and Harry Potter World first, (4) insert your noble and/or lame wish list here.”
No matter what it is we want here, no matter how noble – world peace, end slavery and hunger, kill all the mosquitos – aren’t we really just procrastinating on eternity? And that nothing here is designed to last. It’s not meant to. We are here to learn and love and strive and do. But we are not built to last. We are not Ford tough. We are more like Vespa scooters. (dont get me wrong, I love scooters… and you should buy raffle tickets to the Grove Christian Outreach Center raffle drawing for a scooter at one of the designated locations listed here… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grove-Christian-Outreach-Center/283247161649)
But in the meantime, we are living in the tension… the now and the not yet as many a preacher is prone to say. Some of us live life to the fullest and with gusto and just do it and every other slogan you can think of to remind us how much fun we’re having. Eat, drink, be merry for tomorrow you die. I’d love to see that as a slogan for someone. Others work hard at having no fun at all and live their lives as if cracking a smile will bring about the next apocalypse.
But for me, I am content to be discontent, uneasy, wanting more, demanding more from others, never letting others take the easy way out. I hate this life. I hate the injustice. I hate loneliness. I hate insincerity and deceit. I hate that people are starving. I hate that people sell their bodies. I hate that people pay for bodies. I hate that children grow up with no family. I hate that some of my friends feel very single and unloved. I hate that some of my friends are in pointless relationships. I hate that I always have one foot out the door and one eye on the emergency exit. I hate that I can’t convince people that turkey burgers are good for you.
Life is hard. I don’t think we’d do anything worthwhile at all ever if it wasn’t. And so I guess I’ll take it. Because people who rise above and change their little part of the world make God’s heart glad. And when I know God’s face is smiling on me, that is all the contentment I will ever need.