May 31 Reflections

A story of discontent was written in 1886 by Leo Tolstoy a Russian author. A story relevant though for today. In the story a man named Pahom had a desire to own more and more of everything. He was not content. Satan is aware of his inner discontent and began to plot a temptation for Poham. The arrangement, through an unusual set of circumstances, came to be that Poham can walk around as large an area as he wants in a day. The entire area he walked around will be his. The only stipulation was, that he had to return to the starting point by sunset or he forfeited everything. He had a dream the night before which he sees himself lying at the devil’s feet, who is laughing at him. Not to be deterred he started out the next morning with a plan to get as much land as possible. At first, he walked…then he walked faster…then he began to slowly run…soon he was running as hard as he could because sunset was coming. He was exhausted but got to the place he started just as the sun set. Everyone was cheering for him, but exhausted from the running, he dropped dead. His servant buried him in an ordinary grave only six feet long, which is all the land he ever received.

Discontent can lead to an endless pursuit of money, things, possessions, your idea of beauty, or what really matters in your world. Contentedness is defined in the Urban Dictionary this way: The state of mind, you reach when you look at your life in all its imperfection, and say “good enough“.
Contentment is true peace of mind and has absolutely nothing to do with any external pleasure or condition, but rather your attitude.  Contented people tend to possess psychological flexibility. Here are some things in my life that help contentment to flourish.

  • Living in the moment. Mindful of now, not rocketing into the future.
  • Enjoying deeply what is free…such as the beauty of creation.
  • Learning from mistakes rather than dwelling on them.
  • Learning to love and accept oneself…self-compassion.
  • Focus on relationships not religion, or things.
  • Life is a journey of loving well, not a competition.
  • Living in grace not shame…I am perfectly imperfect.
  • Developing an attitude of gratitude…focusing on what I have, not on what I don’t have…
  • Resting my entire life and being in Jesus.

We are going to think about contentment this week. Paul said he had learned the secret of contentment. Paul is not like a billionaire who tells the one who has nothing not to worry about a thing. Paul suffered deeply and had deep joy, yet in both situations he declared he was contented. The secret for Paul, and for me and you as well, is a relationship with Jesus, where we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us. We are going to explore what this means this coming Sunday. Some passages to read include Philippians4:10-13; John 14:15-21; 2 Corinthians 11:16-29; 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn