One of the things you can be sure of when you write or teach about your faith is that you will get a pop quiz on your own material. Recently I spent a wonderful weekend at a men’s retreat in California talking about grace and identity in Christ. The key takeaway from the weekend was to recognize the things that happened when you became a follower of Christ. “Remember who you are” was the slogan of the conference.
The pop quiz began before I got home. Nightmarish travel and agonizing computer issues were just warm-ups. Other tests came bundled in what we used to call “unspoken requests” in my growin’ up church. In other words, we don’t want to talk about it or we don’t really trust you with it. Long story short…Satan wanted me to forget the joy of fellowship with those men and focus instead on some less than ideal circumstances.
Enter today’s iPod Devotional tune. An artist that was new to my playlist popped up on the morning walk. Francesca Battistelli’s song “This is the Stuff” made me smile and helped me remember what I told the guys to remember. I am content in Christ.
The melody is bouncy and fun as Battistelli sings about the potential beatdown of modern life.
I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please ‘Cuz I can’t find my phone
My version would have been something like this…
I may never leave this airport tarmac,
My friends told me, always buy a Mac…
Later Francesca sings about another “fun” moment in life.
45 in a 35
Sirens and fines while I’m running behind
Been there, done that, got the defensive driving t-shirt. And then she sings honestly about our normal reaction to the mundane irritations of life.
This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately
Paul had some stuff going on that could have driven him crazy or worse. He realized that contentment is not found in good circumstances. He wrote these words from prison while chained to a Roman soldier.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, 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. (Philippians, The Message)
I am so grateful that Paul did not write I “am” content and I “know” the secret even though those words could have been true. He was divinely inspired to honestly write that he had “learned” to be content and he had “learned” the secret of being content. It did come naturally or easily to Paul either. Don’t be discouraged. If you are following Jesus and learning to daily trust Him for your strength then you are learning as well. Contentment is learning how to be present in the present with Jesus. Our nature is to not enjoy the moment at hand and the blessings that usually surround us. That is a lesson that today’s song relates as well.
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I’m blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use
I love that line about forgetting how “big I’m blessed”. That is so easy to do. Satan would have us live in regret of the past and fear of the future so we will not be content in the moment with Him. I am learning that part of being content on the journey with Jesus is trusting Him one day at a time. You can’t live in regret of the past. It is forgiven. You can’t live in fear of the future. It is in God’s Hands. You live in the moment, one day at a time, trusting Him for that day.
My friend John Weber is in heaven now and he had a saying that I love.
“God didn’t call me to be spectacular. He called me to be faithful.”
That is my game plan for today with whatever stuff life throws in my path. Simply being faithful and giving Him the stuff that drives me crazy with the knowledge that this is the stuff God uses.
…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12, NIV)
Don’t lose heart over the little stuff. Remember who you are in Christ and remember how “big” you are blessed today.