I have a butterfly bush outside my bedroom window. The other day I was gazing outside and spotted two small butterflies on the bush. Whenever one would land to gather nectar, the other would chase her away. Finally, after endless fighting, both butterflies flew off. The result – neither butterfly got what they came for. There were plenty of flowers on the bush, but both lost the opportunity for nourishment.
This led me to thinking, how often are we so busy competing that we miss the opportunities that are before us? If this doesn’t apply to you, I commend you for focusing on the present as it sits before you. Yet, I would say for many of us, myself included, we get caught up in the rat race. Turn on your television, open up a magazine, or hop on Pinterest or Facebook. Take a look at the latest kitchen designs, the newest BMW 535 xDrive (yes, I’m in love), or that dream house your high school classmate just bought. Maybe she chose that career path that you sometimes wish you had chosen instead of staying home with the kids or vice versa.
How often do we find ourselves thinking or saying, “I will be happy when… (fill in the blank)?” Yet as soon as we achieve that one thing, be it marriage, children, a larger home, etc., we move on to the next desire. So often we are unconsciously chasing after what someone else has that we miss the very blessing God has provided for us. We aren’t much different from the butterflies fighting to get the best nectar for themselves instead of enjoying what was right before them.
So how do we stay content in a world where we are bombarded with information? In the book, Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow writes about a woman missionary named Ella who had experienced a number of hardships. After her death, her daughter discovered her “prescription for contentment” in her diary. Here is what it consisted of:
- Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather.
- Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
- Never compare your lot with another’s.
- Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
- Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that [tomorrow] is God’s, not ours.
I would like to propose that you make your own copy of Ella’s prescription and leave it somewhere where you can read it frequently. Grab a hold of your thoughts and redirect any ideas that oppose the above principles.
Finally, I would like to share with you the the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians – a book whose focus is on joy. Paul found himself continuously persecuted, stoned to the brink of death on one occasion and imprisoned three times before finally being executed. The Greek word for content in the following verse, “autarkēs”, literally means “self-reliant.” Paul understood that to be content or “self- reliant,” he needed to trust in Christ. He wrote these words along with the entire book of Philippians during his first imprisonment:
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 NIV)
This week I encourage you to find joy in the moment instead of waiting for the next best thing. Trust in Christ and His plans for your life.
Until next time.
Dillow, Linda. Calm My Anxious Heart. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007. p. 12-13