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Seasons of Contentment

As a 73 year old mother and grandmother, I am finding that the winter season of life is an unbalanced mixture of highs and lows. And, as is too often the case, my perspective is fashioned by the self-centered bent of my fleshly nature. You know, that part of us that we are all born with and until we invite God’s spirit to dwell within us, rules our thinking.

Ever since the last of my 4 fledglings flew from the nest (that was 18 years ago), it’s been an up and down journey for this mom. Contentment was a constant as I was raising my four beloved children. But as one by one they took flight, my contentment began to wane. And was sorely tested when my entire brood moved out and away. Since then while they have moved sometimes closer and sometimes further (even one went to live on the African continent) my contentment ebbed and flowed in concert with their change of addresses . Predictably, the arrival of grandchildren, as wonderful as that has been, contributed to an even greater elusiveness of contentment.

Initially, there were times when I thought, “I just can’t do this.” The reason being, I was brought up on a farm where children grew up and planted their homes not too far away. Therefore, I was predisposed to expect the same future for my growing babes. And even more so since returning to my childhood roots about 40 years ago to establish my forever home.

Yet, the cold reality is that the contentment of my four grown up children is now defined as mine was when we shared the same nest. My presence is no longer necessary to their contentment. Instead,I have become an accessory.

And you know what I am discovering? Being an accessory is as it should be. It’s the way of life. I am learning that only when I allow the lies of fiery darts to interpret my thoughts, will I wander into the valley of despair.

Every season of life is designed for a purpose. God reminds me of this, when I am tempted to allow sadness and my lack of contentment to fashion my attitudes and actions. Plain and simple, my friends, this is nothing but disobedience. Besides, my discontentment will steal the blessings God has for me in this season.

Up until my Winter season there were an abundance of reasons for my seasonal contentments. They were blessings straight from God. And they motivated me in overcoming the hardships I encountered. But in my Winter season the absence of those preferred blessings created a gap in my contentment. That is until I came to terms with the fact that the truest and best contentment can only be found in Christ. This type of God-given contentment opens the door to appreciate a whole new realm of contentments designed to enhance the Winter of my life. Being contented in Christ is the perspective we need to envision all the possibilities for contentment no matter the season of life, but especially in our life’s Winter season.

Seasons! some good, some not so good

 

      Each season possesses beauty unique to its time. Sometimes the beauty is obvious and a wonder to behold and experience. Some seasons, however, the beauty is less obvious. Those seasons require an extra effort on our part to experience the beauty. Nevertheless, the beauty is there; waiting to be known. 

     Life is like that too! There are seasons that present quite the challenge to discover its beauty. Seasons change. Some changes are sudden and completely upend our lives. Some changes happen slowly but inevitably. 

     These changes bring with them a most undesirable host of temptations. (I call them fiery darts, remember) Fear, doubt, discouragement, anxiety, depression, anger (just to name a few!) have the potential power to overwhelm us (even destroy us). And they will, if we face them unequipped.

     There is only one source that I would recommend that is capable of extinguishing the temptation of such powerful negative emotions. 

Consider the following:

Fear 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7  Do not receive what has not been given to you by God.

Doubt

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6  Without faith, fear will overwhelm us. 

Discouragement

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.Deuteronomy 31:8 God is with us and goes before us all at the same time. He can do that because He is God. He is preparing the solutions ahead of time to our problems.

Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 Worry and anxiety are sin. But the world will tell us it’s normal. We can’t help it. Oh! but this verse wipes out such a false assumption. Do we desire peace or anxiety? It’s a choice we make! 

Depression

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalms 42:1 Without hope, depression can get the best of us. Think about God, how He loves us, the extreme measures He went to to assure us of hope. Don’t allow the enemy to steal that from us. 

Anger

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20 Anger can be brought under control. Take the measures recommended here to defuse it.

     For every fiery dart that attacks us in those not so pleasant seasons of life, there is a Truth thought that will extinguish them. Only then will we have to vision to uncover the beauty they hide. If we can but remember Romans 8:28,

 

 

 

Seasons of Attack

   No matter what season of life we may find ourselves, Satan knows exactly how to attack. Unwittingly, we succumb to the lies of fiery darts (for lack of time spent in prayer and bible study). Lies that tempt us to accept the stresses and strains of every seasons of life as, “Well, that’s just the way it is!” We don’t recognize them for the fiery darts they are. For example:

Spring

   Growing up in a Christian home, accepting Christ at nine, growing in my commitment to God. Reaching a turning point at 21…life took an abrupt turn and my relationship with God got a lot more personal.

Yet, fiery darts took advantage of my immaturity. 

Summer

   Being a young wife, wrapping up college, moving away from home, focusing my energies and thoughts on marriage, school, and living this new life! New home, new church, new college, new surroundings, no family…it wasn’t easy to maintain a consistent walk with God.

   I fondly remember those younger years as a mother of four. Always busy, running from one activity to another. Life was packed full with church events, caring for children, home, marriage. It didn’t leave time for much else.

Fiery darts found an entry as I began to be distracted from focusing on God.

Autumn

   Children growing up, the nest starts emptying. Transition after transition throws obstacles in my way. Becoming a bit bewildered about how to handle life. Some problems have hung around so long, it’s a strong temptation to just become resigned to them. 

The fiery darts reflect a life too busy to sit at Jesus feet. Thoughts of confusion, frustration, and doubt coupled with fear tend  to rule my thinking. 

Winter

   Because of my age there are troubling concerns. Will my health hold out. Will I be able to make it financially? And as children move away (taking my grandchildren with them), loneliness begins to stalk me. Then there are some problems stubbornly hanging around with no solution in sight. And searching for a new purpose can be a bit daunting!

The fiery darts are defined by the fear and doubt lurking behind every troubling thought.

   In looking back on my journey, I have often pondered why it took so many years for me to reach the path that led out of the darkness of my negative thinking. I may never know the answer to that question. But I do know that while my journey was lengthy, so were the lessons I learned. pp 14-15 FD’s 3rd edition.

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   Please don’t wait until the autumn of your life as I did, to have Satan’s attack plan exposed. Start learning it now, teach it to your children, grandchildren! 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 holds the key as to where to begin:

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. NLT