When our son Reuben was a little boy, one of his first spoken sentences was “Can I come too?”. He had two older brothers who often got to do things that he didn’t, and he didn’t like being left behind when they got to go to new and exciting places!
Tomorrow Bethany and I will be left behind as Marion jets to Minnesota to visit our son Simeon, his wife Heather and our 3 month old granddaughter Sophie, indisputably the cutest baby that ever lived.
Will I miss Marion? Absolutely – but I am so glad she is going. This is a big step for her – she hasn’t been on a airplane in 26 years – and I’m so proud of her for deciding to go in spite of her apprehensions of being lost forever in the bowels of the Chicago airport! It was so important to her to have some time with her granddaughter, and now God is making a way for her and giving her the desire of her heart.
This morning Marion and I were lying in bed talking about her trip, and she asked me “Are you sad that you’re not going?”. I was touched by her concern for me, but on reflection I realized that truthfully I hadn’t thought of it that way. Of course I would love to be there – I loved being in Minnesota in March – but it wasn’t feasible for both of us to go at this time, and I knew it was more important (and more feasible) for Marion to make the trip this time than for me. I am just so pleased for Marion that she can do this.
In the last chapter of the gospel of John there is a poignant and very significant exchange between the apostle Peter and Jesus, now risen from the dead. They are having breakfast on the beach and Jesus has just finished asking Peter three times “Peter, do you love me?”. He then tells Peter some things about his future, including a veiled hint about the way Peter will die. Peter’s response is classic. He looks over at the apostle John, and asks “Lord, what about him?”. Jesus loses no time in putting an end to this game, telling Peter “What’s it to you? Your job is to follow me”. (John 21:22-23)
This is a perspective that we all need. Years ago as a young believer at summer camp, I was struck powerfully by the wise words of a pastor who said simply “We are called to contentment”. For the disciple, contentment is not something that comes and goes with the wind, but rather a choice – a calling – something that is available to us and that we have full control over. The apostle Paul, writing from a Roman prison cell, told his friends in Philippi that his ability to be content did not depend on his circumstances but on the power of the risen Christ living in Him (Philippians 4:11-13).
Discontentment is a trap. Not that we should always passively accept things the way they are. There are circumstances that we are called to resist with all our might, but even in the midst of fighting injustice and praying for transformation, we can be content in God who supplies all our needs and more. The key to contentment is knowing where God has called you to be, and then planting your feet there and standing your ground – focussing not on your “hard luck” but on the goodness of God who knows you intimately and is able to meet all your needs according to his glorious riches.
Will I miss Marion? Of course. Do I wish I was going to Minnesota with her? Not really, because that’s not where God has told me to be, and I want to stay in His blessing. The blessing comes not when we complain and grumble, but when we obey with a willing heart.
Oh, by the way – I’ll probably forget this lesson at some point, so if any of you catches me grumbling about some circumstance or other, feel free to remind me of this post 🙂