If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis
Contentment can be bad.
My new desire is for holy discontentment.
Most people I know work hard to be content and happy. We do everything we can to keep ourselves safe, secure our belongings, prevent as much pain as possible, and numb the rest. Then we settle down and learn to be grateful.
This is wrong.
Central Park and Rain
When my son graduated from High School I took him and one of his sisters to New York City as a graduation present. One pleasant morning we walked from our hotel near Times Square through Central Park to an art museum. Being a country girl, I tend to trust my own two feet rather than taxis. We all like to walk. Besides, walking is cheaper. We emerged from the museum a few hours later to a torrent of rain. There were no signs that it would let up. Being types that love adventure, and not being sweet enough to dissolve like sugar when wet, we walked back through the park. I was counting on finding someone peddling umbrellas outside the museum. There was a place to buy umbrellas. Unfortunately, it was all the way back through the park, in front of our hotel! Looking like three drowned rats, we dripped our way to the mirrored hotel elevator. All of us were wearing white, which had become transparent in the rain, and flip flops which had flipped mud all the way up our backs! There is no chance that anyone mistook us for elegant and refined locals!
“Rain falls on the evil and the good.”
Some of us buy umbrellas, and pretend that our clothes have not become transparent and splattered with mud.
Here in America we call that self-reliance.
God calls it stupidity.
God offers us so much more than an umbrella.
Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast we were made to want so much more than this provincial life.
We should want more.
One of the problems at my church and many others is there is often a misguided unspoken pressure to be fine. We think it is weak and maybe even un-Christian to be deeply sad or angry or in any other way not fine. On days when my heart is aching it feels safer to stifle my tears and make a hasty exit after the last song than to admit I am not fine. Church should be a safe place to burst into tears. God would be very happy if some bedraggled person walked in and admitted to being discontented.
“I am fine,” is code for ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone.’
The original says it this way.
You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. Revelation 3: 17
I got a note from God this week.
Show up and ask for me.
I have the gold at the end of the rainbow
and a new designer wardrobe waiting for you.
After that we are going to get your near-sighted
eyes fixed so that you can see.
Here’s how the Message puts it:
Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
Revelation 3:17-19, The Message
I long to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I long to be so crazy about him that I won’t care if most people think I’m just plain crazy. I want gold that can’t disappear in an economic downturn. I want garments that are fit for Heaven, too fine for 5th Avenue. I want vision so good that I see clearly all the way into the kingdom.
I am determined to reach beyond contentment.
I am thankful for all the other stuff, but I am determined to learn how to not be content with it. I am grateful for what God gives me. I want all that he offers me too.
I want all of us to come in out of the rain.