Originally published Monday, 27 January 2014.
Chasing the next big thing is like running a race in which the finish line does not exist.
This past weekend, Marc and I flew to Austin, TX to explore the city. We wanted to catch the vibe. To chase the possibility of relocating.
We walked downtown Austin on 6th Street and were met with t-shirts and signs that said "Keep Austin Weird." There were also loads of hipsters and hippies. We ventured over to Zilker Park and walked under the bridge. We saw lots of joggers, runners, and people walking their dogs. Then we ate at Chuy's, a food landmark of Austin.
In the middle of the night, Marc woke up violently. That Chuy's burrito did not agree with him. He got the flu. That cut our two-day trip in half. We never got the opportunity to explore Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. Thank goodness for friends who let us stay in their home so Marc was at least more comfortable.
While Marc was resting, I started reading Satisfied by Pastor Jeff Manion. I recently devoured his first book, The Land Between, and wrote about it here. I was deeply impacted by the message in his first book about feeling stuck in the land between. When I saw his second book was about satisfaction and contentment -- I knew I had to read it.
I had just come through a season of rest.
Waiting on God.
So on the couch downstairs in Round Rock, TX -- I began to read.
Lord, what is your will? Here we are walking on water. We're venturing into the unknown. Taking time to explore a new city. Why does my heart feel so restless?
Jeff writes, "Contentment is the cultivation of a satisfied heart." This simple yet profound statement helped to open my spiritual eyes. God had already began changing me. This season of rest where I felt restless was beginning to feel more peaceful. At home.
I loved that God took me all the way to Texas to show me that I had changed even though my circumstances had not.
It wasn't until I got home that I found out my book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me was selling well. I wasn't a big fat failure. My dreams hadn't died.
And that lack of a church community?
Marc and I just started a young marrieds growth group through North Coast Church. For the first time in our marriage, we finally found a group where we're not the only couple without kids. Every single couple in our young marrieds group is childless. Once again, I didn't feel like a failure. I feel like I fit in.
I think the reason why God allowed such a long season of rest is to show me that I was continually chasing the next big thing.
I was trying to fill the void with a new book or a new child or running or losing weight or church community. Even if some, all, or none of these things changed -- God wanted to change me first. To leave me with His peace, contentment, and a satisfied heart.
Don't confuse simplicity with contentment. On one hand, one can simplify out of necessity but do so with a cankerous attitude. Contentment, on the other hand, is not just simply living with less. Remember, contentment is a satisfied heart, a spirit that is alive to God and to others, whether or not we have what we desire. Contentment is being fully alive whatever our situation. What a miracle it is when contentment rescues us from resentment in a season of cutting back.
Graduating with honors in one season of life is no guarantee of receiving passing grades in another.
Are you willing to compromise … health for more money?
Is there a finish line out there? Not if our quest is for "more." If our goal is more, then whatever we have is never enough. It is like running a race where a finish line doesn't exist.
There are those who are no longer walking with Jesus because something else got their attention. Don't let this happen to you. I so deeply want you to enjoy what you have without being deceived into thinking that it can fill something it was never designed to fill or fix something it was never intended to fix.
Once again, I am here to remind you (and myself) that we cannot serve two masters.
If God wants me to serve my husband (even though my husband is not currently satisfied with his job) and to write (even when I felt like my career was winding down) -- I am still to obey God.
Whether content or cankerous.
Thankfully, God is a gentleman and waits for us to decide. He won't take us kicking and screaming. I'm thankful for the opportunity to explore a new town, even if we felt it wasn't for us.
Question: Are you chasing the next big thing? Why or why not?