Assurance and Contentment

"Lord, before the heat of the noonday comes, we are already feeling as though our lives are not full enough.  Instill in us this morning, the assurance that you are enough for us, God.  Your love, your call, your work, is enough.  Amen."
       -Morning Prayer from "Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals" by Shane

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6)

There is something basic in the human DNA that desires to have significance, security, and acceptance.  No matter what culture we live in, or the era in which we have our existence, we are created to desire these three essential elements of life. 

Interestingly, each of those elements are relational concepts.  We have significance when our lives have purpose and impact, in relation to the world and the people around us.  We are secure in that we have the provisions we need and are safe from harm, particularly from those around us.  Acceptance means that others affirm us and accept us within a community of some kind.  It is impossible to be signficant, secure, or accepted outside of relationships.  In other words, we are created so that our deepest desires are met in relationships with others.

In our current culture where individual self-achievement and advancement is highly prized, we often appear more like a hamster on a running wheel; exerting maximum effort to make things happen, but going nowhere.  We believe that the feeling of significance, security, and acceptance will come once we get out of school, get a better job, find the right mate, accumulate enough money, gain the right position, become recognized as the best in our field, be seen as attractive, drive the right vehicle, raise well adjusted children, and the list could go on. While each of these things can be quite healthy, they disappoint us eventually as we hope that deep inside, they will make us feel significant, secure, and accepted.  Eventually, they all disappoint.  Someone else becomes better, we age and our perceived attractiveness diminishes, our children rebel, our significant others show that they are as imperfect as we are, and the car eventually goes out of style.

Each of these things are gifts from God to be enjoyed (Ecclesiastes 8:15), but the reality is that these things will never fill our desires for significance, security, or acceptance.  It is only in a relationship with God, who created us for himself, that we truly feel significant, secure, and accepted.  Early Church father, Augustine once stated that humanity has a hole in its heart, shaped like God.  We were created for God, and find our wholeness and completion in him alone.

In the absence of a relationship with God, we will fill our need for significance, security, and acceptance with God substitutes.  We trust that our spouses, the job, the accomplishments of life, or our particular talents will fulfill the role of God, making us feel valued, appreciated, and safe.  When these things fail us and leave us hollow, we often curse the false gods for not being God.  We even pray to God, to make the false gods of our life, more God-like.

God deeply desires to make us whole.  It is a gift from God, not something we earn.  Godliness is the attitude of living in the continued presence of God.  It is living in light of God's presence and within a relationship with him, forged not of our own terms, but through a gracious gift of love in the sacrifice of Jesus. 

Is God's love, His call, His work enough for you?  Are you seeking God-substitutes instead of God.  Take time today to pray for the assurance of God's love, calling, and mission for you.  Accept his profound love for you, not in intellectual assent, but in the deeply personal experience of knowing that the creator of the universe loves you deeply, calls you personally, and sends you to impact lives in which you are uniquely designed to do.

May God bless you,

Pastor M Traylor
Dr. M TraylorComment