THE MYSTERY OF CONTENTMENT

By Lisa Huddleston

I am shocked to be writing this post.  Contentment is not a familiar topic for me.  Yes, like Paul, I have made it my ambition to learn how to be “content in every situation” (Phil 4:11).  However, the difference is that Paul managed to actually do it, and I never have.

In fact, I have always been quite far from content.  I’ve struggled with nearly everything.  Injustice.  Poverty.  Suffering.  Meaning.  How can I be content when the world is such a mess?  When I am not making a difference?  When little seems to matter?

Yet, I have tried.  I’ve read great spiritual books.  I’ve written anguished, pleading prayers.  I’ve studied, and I’ve sought.  But, never have I felt real peace.

Many times I have cried, “Why isn’t Christ enough?”  I know that He should be.  I know that He is.  Yet, He isn’t—or at least He hasn’t been to me.  How can that be?  It clearly can’t if Christ is Christ.  And so I’ve clawed through the days of discontent barely scratching the shiny surface of the simplicity of truth.  If I couldn’t understand it, then it plainly could not be.

But it is.  Truth is seeping into my walls, and I feel the foundational shift.  I can’t control it.  I am becoming content.  Dare I say, “I am content”?

Go figure.  All this time I have tried so hard.  And now I’m not even trying at all.  Is that the magic?  Can I now tell all of you who are still striving that the secret is to give up?

No.  I don’t know the secret.  If it were about me and what I do, then I think I would have found it years ago.  It is not about doing or even about not doing.

Forgive the terrible cliché—but it really may be about being.  And what has changed so that I can now be when before I could only do?  I don’t know.  I really do wish I could tell you.  I know that you long for the answer as I have.  But I do not know.

I do know that I grew very weary of striving.  I lost concern about achievement that others could praise.  It no longer mattered if I had an important job with a title and a big paycheck—or a paycheck at all.  Past tense.  He began a great work in me, and He is finishing it–that is all I know.

So, today, I am content.  Satisfied to serve, to be, to live.  I volunteer, write, visit, listen, feed, and love.  I am served, read, heard, fed, and loved more than I deserve.  And it is good.

Today, my life is sweet.  I am satisfied with Jesus.  What a mystery!

Advertisements

TATTOO STUDIO HOMILY

By Lisa Huddleston

I’ve often remarked that God shows me the same message in many different settings until it suddenly clicks and I “get it.” He knows that I am a multi-sensory learner. Let me taste it, touch it, hear it, smell it, and then just maybe it will click.

That’s what happened last Friday as I sat in the chair at Ian White Tattoos receiving the painful message that God has been trying to teach me. My new friend, Amanda, is an apprentice there, and she patiently worked with me as I “oohed” and “ouched” and “yowed” my way through her artistic endeavors. Hey, a foot is tender. God has placed lots of sensitive nerve endings there so that we take care not to stub our toes and walk on glass. It really hurt!

Ironically, the message that Amanda engraved is “A long obedience in the same direction.” It speaks of patience and endurance and perseverance. Qualities that I mainly lack. Friedrich Nietzsche first penned the words, but I received them through Eugene Peterson and have made them my own. It is a long obedience that results in true progress so I felt that my foot was the perfect place to remind me to keep walking.

Anyway, Amanda was great. She didn’t call me a baby (although she probably wanted to.) She didn’t even laugh when my sweet son told me to “man up!” She kept saying “just a little more.” Then she told me to take a deep breath and blow it out. “Whooo … “

It worked! I relaxed, and the pain lessened incredibly. For the rest of the time, I blew out my anxiety and concentrated on relaxing my tensed muscles. It required a great deal of focus—another quality I often lack—but it really worked!

Then it clicked. Oh yeah … I remembered the time on my knees when God said, “Pick up your feet and go with the flow, Lisa.” I remembered other times He told me that He had it and I could let go. He was the current of my life. I could trust Him with wherever that current took me. I had to relax.

So that’s what He meant. Unclench my jaw. Untense my muscles. Relax my grip. Let go. He gave me lots to ponder, and before I knew it the pain was over.

Thus ends the message for today. Maybe.

DO THE POOR DESERVE TO DIE?

“For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the Lord; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water” (Isaiah 32:6).

My thoughts–unpolished, unrehearsed, probably naiive.  Here goes:  how can Christians put their pocketbooks ahead of people?  I know that the politicians do it because their constituents do it and on and on.  But come on, brothers and sisters.  When people are hungry, can’t we feed them?  And when people are sick, can’t we treat them?  Won’t we?

Oh, please, don’t tell me that all poor people cause their own illnesses by smoking, drinking, and doing drugs.  If you couldn’t afford a dentist, wouldn’t your teeth be rotten?  If my mother’s dearest friend could have afforded a doctor, wouldn’t she have gone before the stomach cancer was too far gone to treat?  And wouldn’t my  Appalachian grandmother have gotten better medical care when she was dying of breast cancer?  And my hard-working grandfather have received help rather than dying on a ladder painting someone else’s house even though he had heart disease and never owned a house of his own?  Did they really deserve to die because they were poor?

God loves the poor as much as the rich.  God blesses the rich in order to bless others.  That’s true trickle down economics.

I don’t have all the answers, but I hope I would spend more money to help those who need my help.  I don’t deserve my blessings.  God has been gracious to me so that I can be gracious to others.  That’s my politics.

Open my heart, Lord, along with my grasping hands.  Show me how to love like you.  Amen.