Be Content With What You Have

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
I moved just a few weeks ago to a cheaper apartment, just two miles down from my old one.  The first few weeks were…scary.  Apparently the previous tenant had left things helter-skelter and they had to do a major overhaul, new carpet, appliances, etc.  They only had about a week and a half to get things ready before I absolutely had to move in.  So, there were a lot of loose ends when I did, a LOT of loose ends. 
I called a friend (so sorry) at around 1 a.m. the morning of my first night’s stay and started crying, I think I went through a laundry list of everything that was wrong and ended with, “This place smells weird.”  It did, it smelled like a hotel.  Hotels are great for a night, maybe even a week, but to set up permanent residence? 
No thanks.
About two weeks later Little A and I left to see my family for a week.  When we came back about one quarter of the apartment was flooded.  Every time the people upstairs took a shower, water came out of the pipe under their shower and dumped directly into our bathroom–and surrounding areas…
God is good.  If this kind of thing would have happened in my 20’s, my head would have no doubt popped off my head.  But this could be fixed.
Lately, before the move, I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff, how to get rid of it, what to get rid of, how easy and simple a life of minimalism really is and more often than not, the first part of this verse in Hebrews has been running through my mind at the store, “Be content with what you have.”
Someone once said to me, “Everything has a shelf life.”  Good point.  If your shoes have holes in them, buy a new pair. Need new underwear?  Buy it.  You’ll meet extremes in this life for sure, but these (extreme minimalism vs. extreme excess) take a lot of work.  Why not look to the ant, consider it’s ways and be wise as scripture says, or the flowers of the field and how God clothes them.  Thank God for the little extra that flows in at times and be grateful and share it.  When things are lean, buckle down, save your pennies and still find ways to be generous.  The Sunday School teacher put it pretty beautifully this last Sunday to the group of 2nd graders: she told the kids to extend their hands in front of them with palms up.  “See,” she said, “how can you expect to receive anything if your hand isn’t outstretched in giving?”
The apartment is dry now and for that I am thankful.  Albeit, the closets have acquired a new smell: spicy. 
Care to share a way that God’s been teaching you contentment recently?

I May Be Starting to Get this Bread Thing

No wonder Jesus got so frustrated with the disciples.  He was doing everything he could to appeal to them on their level, talking of bread, wine, etc. and still they weren’t getting it.  I’m pretty sure that’s why we’re referred to as sheep so often, we’re dumb, we need direction, CONTINUAL direction, the only thing we really are good for is hearing our Shepherd’s voice.  It’s true, my friend raised a couple of sheep for 4-H and she said tenderly, repeatedly that the sheep always knew her voice.  It made me want to cry.

This week’s lesson for my bible study in Mark brought me to 8: 1-21, the feeding of 4,000.  We were asked to contrast this with the feeding of the 5, 000 (6:30-44).  In both instances the disciples complain after Jesus says that they need to feed the crowd.  In the first account, they complain about how costly it’s going to be (8 months wages!) in the second account the disciples complain about the inconvenience (we’re in the middle of nowhere, how are we going to do that?!).

Yet, both accounts start off with the approximately the same amount of food (5 loaves and 2 small fish and 7 loaves and a few small fish).

And both accounts have the same miraculous results: full bellies all around and 12 and 7 basketfuls of leftovers.

It bears repeating: OUR GOD IS AMAZING.

Moving forward in chapter 8, now we get to the frustrating part: after feeding the 4,000, Jesus sent the crowd on their way, got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha, here the Pharisees came and questioned Jesus.  In order to test him, they asked for a sign from heaven, Jesus sighs deeply and says that no, they will not get their sign (I wonder if He was thinking to himself, “I AM that sign?”).  After this, he gets into his boat and crosses over to the other side.

The disciples had forgotten to pack food for the trip and only had one loaf of bread left, Jesus warns them to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.  Here, my study refers us to I Corinthians 5:6-8 where the old yeast of the Pharisees is referred to as malice and wickedness.

The disciples get this quizzical look on their faces and talk among themselves and they insist: “It is because we have no bread.”

I can feel the frustration and sadness in Jesus’s question: “Why are you talking about having no bread?  Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?

And don’t you remember?”

He asks them how many basketfuls were left over after each feeding and they answer in turn, and he asks them, “Do you still not understand?”

Jesus was expecting them to have seen, heard, and remembered that God was bringing them new bread and he was providing out of his abundance!  NOT out of anything they could earn or provide on their own.  He wanted them to live out full, abundant lives, not in fear or worry, simply doing what God had called them to do: to trust God to meet needs, to heal, to preach the gospel and walk in a manner that’s worthy of being called His disciples.  I know it, I’m preachin’ to the choir right now.

If I am doing what God has called me to do: be a godly mother, nurture my child and teach her the ways of Christ, live out my life in a way that testifies to the gospel of his grace, that’s it.  Why strive for anything else?  Why question the one loaf we have in our hands?

My pastor, at least once a month in his sermons says, “You say to yourself, but I’m just a homemaker. No, you are NOT just a homemaker, you are shaping minds, you are shaping hearts, don’t forget about that.”

Love it.

The Concept of Home

God intends for us to look for something greater, just like Scripture says that nature groans, so we look for what is to come. In Romans 8: 22-23, we see that the “whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. So we too, groan inwardly as we await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We shouldn’t be comfortable here, we should yearn for more–more intimacy with our Creator, and an end to this suffering.

My 3 1/2 year-old daughter does something interesting every time I punish her for disobedience whether that be time-out or the occasional spanking. She yells out in the most pitiful voice, “I wanna go home”. She’s been in our house since she was about 20 months, and based my limited knowledge of childhood cognition/memory, this should be the only home she’s ever known, yet she’s crying out for something different, something, she believes will deliver her from this temporary suffering, something that may offer comfort and this is the only way that she can put it into words. The other day, after putting her in time out for sassing back, I heard the phrase again. Sometimes I wonder if that’s how we should be crying out. I want to go home. I want to be delivered, I want things to be better, different, complete. I want to say that this is what God means by the groaning. The cry for wanting deliverance, wanting to be held, wanting to feel secure again in our Maker.

Wanting reconciliation.

The psalmist understood this concept of home too: “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord…until we appear before God in Zion.”

My friend and I discussed how we get the most amazing night’s sleep every time we come back to our parent’s house. Our only way to explain it was that it probably had something to do with someone else being in charge. We know innately that there will be someone to check the locks, make sure the temperature is set comfortably for the collective good. We have the assurance that there is someone else to wake up and check on the strange noises outside. In other words, worry has been taken out of the equation.

I think much of that just comes back to knowing that our fathers are there.

How about you, what does home mean to you?