Life in the “not yet” tugs at our hearts demanding we either go all in on hope or pull out completely. If the choice is to go all in we must determine which outlook we will adopt.
We are left with the odd task of reconciling our hope with our state of contentment….or lack thereof.
Our gangling bunch of country-hearted city dwellers does their best to make the most of it. We make the most of city life while hungering desperately to carve out our own little oasis in the countryside.
Summer evenings have been spent traveling slowly down ribbons of country road all 6 of us gawking from our seats, windows rolled down, desperate to spot the outlines of soft brown deer amidst the natural camouflage of trees and brush.
We relish the unbroken freedom of the warm country air curling through our hair, filling our lungs, leaving us breathless for more.
In these moments we hope. We hope for a life built and sustained by the wild, unpredictable atmosphere of country living.
We are most certainly trapped in the space of the not yet. There it is. The word “trapped” gives me away. Its quite possibly even the tip of an internal iceberg of discontent.
Contentment and hope. These two seem diametrically opposed. How does one hope and remain content? How does one dream and then open our eyes to the present realities, not at all resembling what we long for?
We should dream and we should hope and the apostle Paul reminds, whether in times of plenty or in times of want, we are to be content. Philippians 4:11
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. My dream is not so urgent in the grand scheme of life. Not so urgent compared to the couple whose “not yet” is the inability to conceive a baby of their very own. Especially not urgent in the light of the single mom whose “not yet” looks like full cupboards from which to satisfy even the hungriest of bellies. Not so urgent amongst those lost with a “not yet” of finding a way home and the “not yet” of those waiting for the lost to return.
Suddenly the truth is emerging. The key to contentment has been given and it looks an awful lot like thankfulness. And thankfulness is itself the threshold each of us must cross if we aim to enlarge our capacity to hope.
Maybe contentment is discovered when we thoughtfully narrow our focus on all those unnoticed blessings we take for granted day after day. If we were to pick though them one by one, leading our hearts over the crests and valleys of each detail, we could see our hope’s light begin to grow because our trust in The Giver would begin to grow with it.
It seems this one who can’t have all she really wants could discover the riches she already possesses. Often, they lie tucked away in the most mysterious places, like the soft touch of my two year-old’s hands as they gently stroke my face or like the radiant beams of sunlight streaming in through my living room window and even places like enough change in the change jar to buy a McDonald’s coke and especially places like the warm bear-like hug of my sweet man at the end of the day.
These places reveal the best gifts of the Father. Every day, in specific forms, He is unfolding His tender heart toward us and even throwing in some of our wants just for fun, just like a loving dad with his little children.
Our dissatisfaction comes from looking for the Father’s extras and missing His heart altogether. Its our response when we distrust His intentions toward us, missing the provisions our own hearts desperately need.
Greater than any country property, is the need to be known. Greater than any material gift, is the need to be accepted, cared for, to be touched with tenderness, to behold the beauty He has majestically woven throughout Creation, art, music, and in the people we interact with every single day. This is the nourishment of our souls without which we are gaunt, ungainly shadows of who we were meant to be.
The clear aim of dissatisfaction is to move us into smallness, for a small soul can only build a small life, a small influence, a small outlook, and a small mind.
The Father longs to give what is best. Like a good dad, He is willing to wait to fulfill our dreams until our hearts have grown large enough to handle the blessing, perhaps even until all we want is Him.
Thankfulness is our catapult into His Presence, the fire that melts away the cold ice of a dissatisfied heart, and the oxygen which causes hope’s flame to burn brighter.
The Psalmist David was convinced of the revolution thankfulness brings. He calls to us with these stirring words from Psalm 100: 3-5
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.