by Kathy Collard Miller
As I talked with a women’s ministry director at a church training conference, I was hoping she would invite me to speak at her women’s retreat. We munched on the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in front of us in the lounge of the convention center as we talked. I was thrilled to see her staring at my mouth, obviously eager to hear my every word. Surely, I was impressing her. All I have to do is say the right things, I assured myself.
After we concluded, I headed for the ladies’ room feeling good about the meeting. I walked through the restroom door and stopped short at the mirror. What’s that dark thing on my lip? Leaning in, I saw a smear of chocolate decorating my lip and chin. Oh, no, how long has that been there?
I had just conducted a professional interview with a dirty face.
Oh, Lord, what have you done to me? So much for my pithy statements and wise admonitions! How foolish I must have looked. How humiliating!
Suddenly, in a flash of truth, I recognized my dissatisfaction with God’s plan. And I started laughing. Oh, Lord, you do have a sense of humor. Please forgive me for my pride and self-importance. I fell into that trap again. Over the next five days, every time I thought about my dirty face, I felt immediate joy. And I laughed again. I rejoiced to know that God had changed my heart in that moment at the mirror, leading me to acknowledge His power and wisdom over my ambition and plans.
It’s a challenge to trust God and seek His glory in our culture of striving, competition, people pleasing, entitlement, and other self-centered perspectives. Contentment is replaced by a need to go higher. Climb the ladder of success and you’ll feel satisfied. Discover your inner muse and be emotionally healthy. Wear the latest designer clothes and stand out from the crowd. Find the diet which will finally make you content with your body. The list is endless and each promise creates a yearning that will lead us to buy the latest product or join the latest group. But they will never satisfy. Even after jumping on their bandwagon, true contentment remains frustratingly out of reach.
We can be strengthened by the Apostle Paul in knowing even he had to learn contentment. He wrote, “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.” (Philippians 4:12 NIV).
What was his secret? Paul gives it just a few verses earlier when he tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to leave our situation in God’s care. Paul had learned to put His trust in God for all things. And He had discovered that his God was “the God of peace.”
In this world of striving and longing, God is faithful to teach that truth to me over and over again. He does it in gentle and unexpected ways. Spiritual growth can come even from chocolate dripping down my chin.
“And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 NASB
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She is an author with over 50 published books including her two latest: Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory and Never Ever Be the Same (co-authored with husband Larry). She lives in Southern California and is a wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two.
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