Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lessons from a Time Machine

“This is the machine that I will make to travel me to the year 2019. By then I will be 21. So I will be able to be moved out and leave this horrible place.”

This is the note we found dangling from our second-story stairway railing, paper-clipped to the belt of a camouflage robe, size 14. My hubby sent the kids to bed early, obviously ticking off Justice, who used the opportunity to use that word power I keep telling you about.

I posted this to Facebook, where it led to a discussion of just how good our kids have it and they don’t even realize it. Contentment is hard for little people. Contentment is hard for us big people, too.

That discussion reminded me that lack of contentment is as old as Moses. No, literally, I mean, as old as Moses. God reminded me that His kids had trouble with this one, so it should come as no surprise when my kiddos struggle there, too. It also should come as no surprise to me that God has also been working in my heart concerning satisfaction, so why wouldn’t He use my kids to hammer home that lesson? But it must be a pretty important lesson we all need to learn, because God sure talks about it a lot.

Remember way back in the Old Testament when the Israelites struggled as slaves in Egypt? (Think Prince of Egypt.) They moaned, they begged, they pleaded with God to come to their rescue. Send us a Deliverer, they implored. Finally, God sent Moses, an old man by this time, back to the land of his youth to lead His people to the Promised Land. After some pretty amazing plagues and a quick escape, the people were on their way.

In the desert, God provided them with a cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire to show them the way at night. He parted the Red Sea so they could escape once again from the angry Egyptians and then wiped out the entire army lest they hamper their progress again. He gave them food to eat that they didn’t even have to cook. He kept their clothes and even their shoes from wearing out. He provided water when they thirsted.

They had it made in the shade, right? Wrong—or so they thought. The Israelites were not content. They wanted to go back. The same people who had begged God to hear their cries for mercy and deliverance stood in the middle of the desert and wished to go back to the slavery that had held them captive for 400 years.

Justice wrote his “Time Machine” note sitting in a clean bed, in his warm room, with a full belly, in a house that is paid for and full of people who love him. The Israelites had everything they needed (except a little variety) yet they turned their eyes away from the very thing they had wanted so much, back toward the circumstances they longed to be rid of once and for all.

Have you ever done that? I have. Remember when you couldn’t wait to be married; to have someone to share the rest of your life? Are you content in the marriage He’s given you now? Do you now look at your husband or wife and wish he or she were someone else? Do you think longingly of the days when no one put their expectations on you? Do you even wonder why God allowed you to marry this person in the first place?

How many years did you long to hold a baby of your own in your arms? How long did you try, jumping through hoops, to finally get pregnant? How are you doing with your attitude toward those children God blessed in to your home? Do you wish them out the door to school every morning? Do you pass them off to your spouse or grandma or a babysitter any chance you get? Do you wish for the days when you could sleep till noon and nobody chewed your gum or played in your make-up or spilled milk on your floor?

What about that job you trained for, prayed for, studied for, and planned for since you were barely twenty-years-old? Are you still thanking God for providing it? Are you content that it pays your bills, puts food on your table, and clothes on your back? Or do you bad-mouth your employer, employees, or co-workers every chance you get? Do you count down the days until retirement? Do you slack off and only give half an effort?

Or that house that you fell in love with the first time you walked through it. Are you still rejoicing in the roof over your head? Or are you scheming about how to move up to a bigger house or ritzier neighborhood? Do you constantly complain about the squeaky floor or the make-you-want-to-cuss storm windows or the lack of storage space?

The list could go on and on. I'm not talking about those weak moments we all have when we throw a pity party and then pick ourselves back up and go on. I'm talking about a lifestyle of discontentment. Ask God to show you where you lack contentment. But don’t ask it lightly—because if you ask, He’s likely to show you and it won’t be pretty. Let’s seek to be people who are content with what we have been given. It is only then that we will succeed in training our kids to follow suit.

Paul said in Philippians, 4: 11, 12: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. Let's give up the idea of a Time Machine that can travel us to a time when we can truly be happy and strive to be happy in the here and now.

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