The Shores of Lake Contentment, Part Two

What a beautiful scene in the soul is Lake Contentment! Undisturbed by outside noises brought on by the jackhammers of exaggeration, those who enjoy the lake know what relaxation is all about. They know nothing of any winter of discontent—or spring or fall or summer, for that matter. Such an existence breeds security and happiness.

Paul lived on that lake once he got his life squared away. He's the one, remember, who wrote:

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:8)

That's a pretty simple list, isn't it? Something to eat and a place to live. Period. Just before he said that, he mentioned:

We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. (v. 7)

Funny how our lives often contradict that statement. We find ourselves clawing, grabbing, hoarding, saving . . . seldom releasing, seldom giving. The wealthy John D. Rockefeller was once asked, "How much does it take to satisfy a man?" With rare wisdom he answered, "A little bit more than he has."

Does contentment mean I need to sell all my possessions and never buy anything new? Does it mean I cannot have nice things? No—it just means those nice things don't possess you. If all this seems suddenly appealing to you, a warning is in order. Becoming a contented person is a process, never an instant decision. The same man who mentioned being satisfied with food and covering earlier in his life admitted:

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11–12)

Go back and reread those first three words. Now look at the extremes of his life: "humble means . . . prosperity . . . filled . . . hungry . . . having abundance . . . suffering need." On the yo-yo of life, he had learned to relax and enjoy whatever circumstances came his way. Somehow he had taught himself the discipline of saying, "I don't need that," and "That isn't really essential."

And then when things opened up, the apostle had no anxiety encountering "the good life." Balanced as he was, Paul equally enjoyed hot dogs or a filet mignon . . . a vacation on the Riviera or under the bridge . . . a gold-covered, diamond-studded, velvet-cushioned chariot Seville or a dirty burro with a limp. How? His focus was right on target. He held every earthly "thing" loosely. He refused to leave Lake Contentment in search of some shallow stream that was sure to dry up.

You can do that too. But it will take the grace of God and all the discipline you can muster.

Especially when advertising bombards you more than three hundred times a day.

Learning contentment takes the grace of God and all the discipline you can muster.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.

When I Lay My Isaac Down