Below is the continuation of a talk I gave at MOPS a few years ago on contentment.
Praying that you’re encouraged by God’s word.
If you missed it, here are Parts 1 and 2:
Part Two: The Glory of the Present Moment and Jenny McCarthy
Psalm 131: Oh, Lord my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Whatever David did, he did it with gusto. When the man made mistakes, they were bold. When he walked with God, he did so with passion and delight. That same wholeheartedness is evident in all of his writings.
I like David because his story reminds me that God can use anyoneâ€”even the worst of sinnersâ€”even me. In my weakest moments as a mother and wife, He is still with me. In the good, the bad, and the uglyâ€”and there is a lot of thatâ€”He is continuing to work in my life for His glory. Phewâ€¦.
Something that we see consistently in the writings of David is that he is vigorously disciplining his heart and soul. In another Psalm, David cries out, â€œBe at rest, once more, O my soul – for God has been good to you.â€
He wrestles, like most of us do, with the emotions of heart. As I mentioned last time, when he begins his song of contentment here in Psalm 131 by writing, â€œMy heart is not proud,â€ he is not making a statement about how great his humility is.
Rather, David is actively and intentionally training his heart to be humble. Essentially, David is crying out,
Oh Lord, help my heart not to be proud.
Because what we learn pretty quickly in this Psalm is that the opposite of contentment is pride.
A few years ago the entire book of Genesis fell out of my bible. 1st Peter was long gone. The thing was steadily and surely falling apart. So, for my birthday I asked Kevin for a new bible.
On the morning of my big day, there was a card on my pillow with this note: Happy Birthday baby. I ordered you a bible and it will arrive in the mail in a few days. Love you, Kev.
When I saw him later that day I should have kissed him on the cheek and said, â€œThank you, honey- that is exactly what I wanted, I am so content with my birthday gift!â€
What I actually said was something to the effect of:
YOU ORDERED MY BIBLE ALREADY?
He looked slightly confused, but I didnâ€™t let it slow my roll.
You didnâ€™t ask me what translation I wanted. What color is it? How big is it? Does it have a concordance?Are there maps?
Is there room in the margins for me to write notes? You know how I like my notes.
I was tempted to pull out a ruler and take down the exact measurements of the bible when Kevinâ€™s patience finally ran out. He looked at me and responded in a slow monotone voice:
Iâ€™ll give you the receipt and you are welcome to return it.
Happy (longest pregnant pause ever) Birthday.
Clearly not my finest hour as a wife.
How often is that our attitude towards God? Our pride takes over and we think about all of the things we donâ€™t have or are dissatisfied with. We forget to be thankful for our circumstances, our children, our husbands, our families, etc.
Often we have the audacity to say to Godâ€”the Creator of the Universe. The One who loved us enough to offer us abundant life and eternal salvation through His son Jesus. The One who blessed us with friends and families and every spiritual blessing under heavenâ€”Well, thatâ€™s nice, but, Iâ€™d rather have it another way. Iâ€™m not content with what youâ€™ve given me.
Thank God He can handle our attitudes.
I am not saying do not take steps to improve your situation, your marriage, your job, etc if you are struggling.
What I AM saying, is that at the very beginning, the very root of what it means to be content and present, is to have a heart that is humble enough to be grateful.
That is the first step in the spiritual discipline of child-like contentment:
- Ask God to remove any pride in your heart that is keeping you from being grateful.
Just this week I was online and my kids were really needy. They were climbing on my back, pushing the buttons on my computer, flat-out annoying me. Now, itâ€™s one thing if I had something essential to get to, and my kids needed to learn a lesson in patience… But to be honest, I was updating Facebook they were in my way.
I literally had to stop and pray this Psalm aloud and ask God to remove the pride in my heart that was keeping me from enjoying my children and being present with them in that moment.
I needed Him to remind me that my children are giftsâ€”precious, vulnerable, and mine. And I needed God’s forgiveness for treating His children like they are distractions or annoyances.
And that is exactly what David is doing in Psalm 131. He may not be dealing with needy children or Facebook, but in Psalm 131, He is practicing the discipline of contentment by training his heart to be humble.
So that’s our goal for the week…one moment at a time…one day at a time…Ask God to remove any pride in your heart that is keeping you from being grateful.
My pastor told a story once about his son struggling with stinky feet. They realized that he wasn’t changing his socks, so they told him to put on a new pair everyday. After a few days he started complaining that his shoes didn’t fit anymore. They discovered that he was putting on a new pair of socks everyday without taking off the old ones!
So, as we ask God to remove our pride, let’s try putting on something new in it’s place to get rid of the stank…something clean and fresh. Let’s take off pride and put on gratefulness. Try to think of a few things each day that you are thankful for, or if you have those frustrating moments when you can’t be present, stop and ask God to help you be grateful for what’s in front of you.
(If you need a lesson in gratefulness, Ann Voskamp’s book, In Search of 1000 gifts, is lovely.)
Here is my Grateful List for today:
1. The weather is lovely today and we all got to play outside.
2. My middle son is playing outside with the water hose and his diaper is full of water and starting to fall off.- It’s hilarious.
3. God has really been teaching me about the power of my tongue in my home (more on this later).
4. Nolan’s smile.
5. Eli’s love of Lego Star Wars. The boy is passionate about whatever he is into.
6. Kevin picked up his clothes from off the floor, without me asking. (I am a nag when it comes to this, and it was nice not to have to nag.)
7. Nolan is crawling–which means he is healthy and strong!
I’d love to know what you are grateful for…feel free to share in the comment section below.
Prayer for this week:
Lord, remove the pride in my heart, so that I can delight in loving those around me.
Teach me to be grateful to you. Amen.
Next up: The Glory of a Contented Thought-Life