"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it."
- Michael J. Fox
At our staff meeting this week, we spent time talking about contentment and our need to find ourselves content in life. There's great truth in that. Paul, the apostle, even challenges us to be content in whatever circumstance we are in. He tells us to be content, to breathe and relax, to kick up your feet and be totally fine with everything as the day keeps rolling by, to focus on ourselves and give up on trying at anything because "hey,... I'm fine either way..."
Wait. Did he say all of that?
Could it be that maybe we've been associating things that don't mix?
Somewhere in our minds, many of us have linked contentment and acceptance to something never intended... resignation. We hear it in phrases and comments like "I guess that's what God intended" or "we just need to get out of the way and be fine with it", or even when talking about ministry, things like "if we only reach one person, that's enough".
Somehow, contentment became a challenge for us to stop driving, to stop working, to stop moving. We allow ourselves to simply be the victims of circumstances and take any desire to move forward as a hit on being "content".
Challenge yourself with this... what if contentment isn't throwing your hands up, letting go, kicking up your feet and saying "que sera, sera". What if it isn't about having no expectations, no drive, no ambition, and what if it's about HOW you embrace your mission and WHERE your fuel comes from.
"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
Contentment is not about the "what" as much as it is about the "how".
There are vital things that we've been called to do here and a very real race that we need to run that takes each of us willing to do whatever it takes to see it accomplished. Jesus tells us that the fields are ripe for harvest, but the issue is with the laborers. The issue isn't the lack of fruit, not a void of lives, no shortage on people... the issue is with laborers willing to do the work. Many of them can be found sitting on the sidelines under a huge banner of "Contentment" and "Dying to Self" and missing the mark of what it was supposed to mean.
Contentment is about doing the hard work and accomplishing the mission that God has set for us and living in the reality that we CAN DO ALL OF IT with what He has given us.
That everything we need for this mission can be found in Him. We may not get everything when we want it and it may look differently than what we would plan and may feel harder than anything in the world... but all that we need for the journey is found in Him and what He alone has placed in us.
So, let's find contentment - let's run the race and give everything we have, striving toward the mark and changing the world. Let's work and put it all on the line, seeing that our strength comes from God - and knowing that we are in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. The laborers might be few, but we won't be sitting on the sidelines looking for contentment... we'll find it right in the middle of doing what we've been called to do.