“…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil. 4:11)
These words of the apostle Paul have been a challenge and an admonition to me over the years. But Jeremiah Burroughs, in his wonderful 1648 book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, (order it here) called contentment “a cordial to revive the drooping spirits of the saints”.
When our family first moved to this acreage-in-the-middle-of-nowhere in 2003, I purposed to be content with it.
It will be an adventure, we said, putting right a century home abused by time and some well-intended but misguided renovations.
The potential was “huge”, the Realtor said; it just needed “some TLC to finish it”.
I had no idea the process of renovation would be so agonizingly slow. Or just so agonizing, period. Eleven years later, we are still in the thick of renovating, though energy, enthusiasm and elves (our family work force) have waned.
I also had no idea God’s renovation of my heart and soul would be so agonizingly slow or pervasive, touching every facet of my life.
“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal [planning, provision] in every condition,” Mr. Burroughs writes.
So the mice in our traps (almost one a day for the first two weeks) and the cold that first winter (because the furnace had yet to be moved from the main floor to the newly-dug basement) were all part of God’s wise planning for us? Apparently so.
And the worst trial of all for ultra-visually-oriented me, the ugliness wherever I looked as we lived amidst the renovations — that, too was all part of God’s fatherly provision for us? Yup.
Burroughs goes on to emphasize, “…that to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.”
Was I sweet, quiet, gracious through it all? Freely submitting to and delighting in it all?
That’ll be the subject of future posts!