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Contentment is a Person

Pam and I had the opportunity last week to watch over our grandkids as our son and his wife went out on a date to celebrate their anniversary. We ate their kind of food and played games they loved. We laughed and ran and enjoyed each other’s company. Then, it was time to put them to bed. They didn’t want to go and, to be honest, we didn’t want to make them go to bed because we loved the time together. We knew, however, that life would be hard on our kids the next day if we didn’t follow through. So off to bed they went.
Well, my granddaughters are five and two. After reading with them and praying with them, we tucked them into bed. 30 minutes later, I heard subdued laughter coming out of their room. I went to the door out of curiosity and I could hear them having “sister time.” They were giggling and talking and giggling some more. They certainly were not asleep but they were content to be in bed because they were enjoying a special relationship with one another.
It was a good reminder to me that contentment in life does not come from possessions or accomplishments. It comes through relationship. And that is the point of Psalm 23. At each and every turn in our lives, God is committed to be present, to provide and to protect us out of a sincere and devoted love.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (v. 1) It is easy to think this means we will always prosper and I, like you, get confused when there isn’t enough money, time or ingenuity to do what I believe needs to be done today. From a shepherd’s point of view, however, this means God will keep us moving so we get to the next place of provision. Sheep will stay in one field and eat everything until the field is bare. They will then be confused because there is nothing left to eat. The Shepherd only lets them stay in one grazing meadow long enough to be strengthened for the next move. He then moves them (often against their will) to the next pasture. He rotates them from one field to another so the supply never runs out.
“He guides me along the right paths . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil . . .” (v. 3-4) The treacherous part of a sheep’s life is the move from one field to another. In the pasture, the shepherd has control. The borders can be watched carefully and intruders can be monitored. The transition from one place to another creates danger. Natural protections are temporarily removed. New terrain contains new hiding places for predators. The travel interrupts well-practiced routines making the sheep more vulnerable. The same is true in our lives. Periodically, God needs to move us from one path in life to another. Aging, the acquisition of wisdom, the shift from high productivity to broad influence at midlife and the ever-changing landscape of our technological world create the need for change. As we go through these necessary transitions, life becomes temporarily treacherous. In the move, contentment is found in the truth, “I will fear no evil for you are with me.” (v. 4)
I know that life is inconvenient, exhilarating, disappointing, frustrating and fascinating all at the same time. Like everyone I know, I am consistently trying to manipulate circumstances to find contentment. For the moment, I can confidently say that contentment is found in the person of Jesus because “Surely [His] goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” (v. 6)

One Response

  1. Thank you, Bill….God’s message through you is in His perfect timing today. This is such a strong and well-written blog.

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