Contentment

A Comfortable Life

Where did that lady go – – the one you used to be?

She slept late on Saturdays and Sundays were restful days. She arrived at church just as the service began and left when it was over. She always sat with the same best friend. When she was sick, she stayed home. She noticed bulletin typos but felt no responsibility for them. She wore new dresses to church two Sundays in a row. She focused on worship without counting absentees and sat in her pew throughout entire Christmas programs. She answered the door in robe and curlers. She hung family underwear on the backyard clothesline. She ran to the grocery store without makeup. She went on vacation without combining the trip with a conference and without worrying that someone would die while she was out of town.

Back then, she had a first name, but now she’s known as Mrs. Pastor and The Church Hostess and The Teacher and The Luncheon Planner and The Visitor of All First-time Visitors. She’s tired and a little frustrated. Sometimes she wants to trade places with her former self, unfettered from others’ complicated needs and great expectations.

Does your ministry weigh heavy today? Are you longing for some easier way to make a living? Many of us do, at some point, because serving others as we do is stressful and draining. But in the most essential way, it’s the best life of all, for it’s a life that shapes us into the image of Christ. The Christlike life has nothing at all to do with satisfying, coddling, or promoting self, but everything to do with being poured out for others, for surrendering pleasures and yielding rights, just as Christ,  being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:6-7). More than any other vocation, ministry offers the privilege of exchanging self-gratification for self-expenditure – of becoming like the One Who “pleased not Himself” (Romans 15:3).

So, cheerily wave goodbye to that other lady with her comfortable life.  She’s probably in awe of you, anyway, for you’re beginning to look an awful lot like Him.

Copyright 2010  –  Press On! Ministries

Blueprints

She stands on the building site of her life, blueprints in hand. She has been drawing them since she first held a crayon, and though they have been modified and refined over the years, they are now complete and highly detailed.

She rarely has to refer to them anymore, for they are deeply engraved in her mind. She knows (more or less) which perfect, handsome man she will marry and what sort of job he will have (with sufficient income, of course, to pay for the house she has already designed). She has planned how many attractive children she will have, at what intervals. They will of course be healthy, intelligent, talented, obedient children with flawless manners.

She was a little startled when her husband turned out to be in ministry, but she soon incorporated that change into her blueprints. Their ministry, she decided, would be a model for others to copy. The congregation would love and follow them. She would be an ideal ministry wife, and at home, a modern Proverbs 31 woman. The entire community would rise and call her blessed. It was all right there in her blueprints.

But then the oddest thing happened. Building materials that she had not ordered appeared on her life’s construction site, and with them the Master Builder began to erect a building around her that didn’t resemble her meticulous plans one little bit. The house He raised was nothing like the dream house she had envisioned, and nowhere near the lot she had staked out. Despite her best efforts, it is often untidy. Its inhabitants have turned out to be defective (including herself, to her surprise and dismay). Some of the sheep in the fold are wandering and blaming it on the shepherd. People call her all the time, but few call her blessed.

At first, she was simply startled, certain that if she drew God’s attention to His errors, He’d correct them.  She held up her blueprints: “Ummmm . . . I believe you may have made a few mistakes. See, according to my plans. . . ” But the Builder just smiled gently and continued building, following His own flawless, higher thoughts and ways, constructing a life that didn’t conform to her plans at all.

Bewildered and frustrated, she now has a choice to make. She can live a joyless martyr’s life in her unwelcome abode, grimly accepting her dismal fate, silently indulging self-pity. Or she can plop down and pout, sticking out her lip, complaining bitterly to anyone who will listen – including the Builder. Or she can shake her fist at Him and stomp off in fury to construct her own life according to her own blueprints. (And He may allow her to go, but will send leanness to her soul.)

There’s one more possibility, of course, and that’s what she decides to do. After one last, longing look at her beloved blueprints, she calmly and deliberately tears them up. As the shreds blow away, so does her unhappiness. She turns and walks contentedly into the house that God built. And there she lives, happily ever after.


Copyright 2010 –  Press On! Ministries

Little Pot

An odd little pot, lidless, dented, and discolored, has lived in my kitchen for a very long time. Too small for most kitchen duties, it spends most of its time sitting on the shelf looking insignificant. Long ago my husband the dumpster diver rescued this poor orphan from someone else’s trash and we adopted it as our own. It quickly made itself useful doing what it does best – boiling water. For a cup of hot tea, it’s faster than the microwave, and it can bring two eggs to a boil in record time.

It’s certainly not the shiniest, fanciest occupant of my kitchen shelves, but I really do hope that my odd little pot has never felt inferior to the rest. I hope that somehow it knows how much I value it – not just as a useful tool, but as a friend. I often identify with it, for when I compare myself to other women in ministry, I feel a bit like an odd little pot myself.

Maybe you, too, have done this sort of comparing. That lady can sing to move hearts while you can’t sing worth a lick. She has a glorious testimony of trials and miracles that brings women to tears, but your life has been mostly routine. She sparkles and dazzles. In comparison, you’re awfully dull. She sails through social events that make you want to hide in a corner. Her amazing speaking gifts have brought her widespread admiration and acclaim. You, however, serve unnoticed in an anonymous place.

You imagine her as a gleaming, non-stick, copper-clad pot in the Lord’s kitchen, and yourself as a dented, discolored, odd little pot. But be comforted. The Lord does not see you that way at all! You (and she) are custom designed for His purpose, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, with tasks assigned to you that you can fulfill better than anyone else in the world.

Imagine a kitchen where all pots were exactly alike. If they were all crock-pots, the cook couldn”t fry chicken. If they were all griddles, making potato soup would be impossible. A cook needs a variety of tools, each designed for a specific purpose. And the Lord needs a diverse group of ministry wives, each uniquely equipped for His intended use.

If I were to put my funny little pot in a rummage sale, it wouldn”t sell, even for a quarter. But it is not for sale. I need it, because no other pot in my kitchen can do what it can do. And the Lord needs someone exactly like you!


Copyright 2010  –  Press On! Ministries