|April 4, 2007|
by Jon Walker
“For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11 NIV)
Community — Have you ever been somewhere you didn’t want to be? Maybe it was a job, a town, or a marriage. Maybe it was a stage in life, like singlehood, or a state in life, like a disability. It’s very possible that as you read this, you’re wishing you were somewhere else – anywhere else – living a different life, but you know it’s not likely that anything is going to change any time soon.
God has a word for you. It’s the same word he gave a group of people when they were stuck in another country, exiled from their homeland. They’d folded their arms and said, “We’re going to wait this thing out, and when we get home, we’ll start living our lives.”
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told them, “You’re not going home any time soon, so start making your lives here. Plant gardens, buy homes, let your children get married, and pray for the peace and prosperity of the place where you’re currently living because, by doing that, you too will be blessed with peace and prosperity.”
To use a modern cliché, God was saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.”
Don’t invest your energy in hopes of leaving; instead invest your energy in the people around you. The Christian martyr Jim Eliot expressed it this way: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t be physically present but mentally somewhere else, thinking of the future or the past, thinking of someplace else. Our journey with Christ requires that we be fully present in the present.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it “this worldliness,” and said, “It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to live by faith.” This focus allows you to see that your life is centered in God and not the place you live or work, not the person you’re married to – or not married to – not how you feel or how you look.
Investing in the people around you is exactly how you find life. Jeremiah even told the exiles that God had arranged for them to be in exile. So it was God’s plan all along to push them to the edge of their existence, so they would end up centered solely on God.
You may feel like you’re in exile too, but God is still working in your life; and his message to you is: Dig in and fully embrace the life around you.
· Center your life in God, not in your circumstances. God is constant; your circumstances are temporary. Ask God, “What do you want me to learn or to do in these present circumstances.”
· Change me, God – Instead of asking God to change your circumstances, ask him to change you in the circumstances.
· Practice being in the present – Today, whenever you find your mind drifting to another place, bring it back to the present, and ask God to help you stay in the present.
· Determine to be a good steward of what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have. Make the most of what God has given you.
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.