Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No complaints

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life." Philippians 2:14, 15.

Liana provides our lesson today. She was playing with her felt board, an elaborate set with several scenery backdrops and so many felt characters and props she could re-enact any story in the Bible. She's partial to Moses and the Exodus, but this time she was making up her own story. Jesus is sitting in the palace throne room and a line of people are waiting to approach him. Each person goes forward and makes a request. The first woman wants a baby and magically the Jesus figure produces one and the woman leaves with praise on her lips. The next woman wants a little girl and the felt girl is suddenly in her arms. The next woman asks for a husband and Jesus holds out...Joseph, dressed as the Prince of Egypt! The felt woman is so thrilled with her princely husband in his royal robes. Everyone leaves happy.

I'm glad Liana knows that we can boldly and confidently approach the throne of God in prayer. He gives us good things and grants our requests. But there is some immature thinking that is fine for a six-year-old, but not for us. God is not a genie, instantly performing signs and wonders when we snap our fingers. Would we want a God like that? One who gives no thought to our true need and no care for our souls? What kind of love would that show? God desires people who will worship and love him for who he is--our Father who is intimately involved in our lives. Anybody would line up in front of a magical god who wowed them with gifts from the sky. What kind of mother would you be if you gave your children everything their eyes and flesh crave? You don't do that because you have their greater good in mind.

Let me make clear that our God is an extravagant giver! He's given me above and beyond all I could ever have dreamed of receiving. But he's more concerned with my character and transforming me into the image of his son than any shallow pursuit that I may have. So if I am discontent with what I don't possess, then maybe I need to examine my heart. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life says, "When you grasp the eternal consequences of your character development, you'll pray fewer 'comfort me' prayers and more 'conform me' prayers."

Back to the child's picture of God. Liana's choice of husband for her felt woman was a prince! We all asked for a prince, didn't we? Are we content with how God answered that prayer? Are we content with the children that God has graciously given to us? When we begin to stop complaining, let's start here with our own family that God saw fit to give us.

"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets?" Jeremiah 12:5. Let's learn to have a grateful heart in good times, so we will be prepared when we travel through the thickets. What is the cure for discontent? Please give me your thoughts!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My cure for discontent is a bit childish, I must admit. I compare my situation to those less fortunate (and yet my mother always told me to concern myself with myself and not to compare myself to others!). I think how fortunate I am to live where I live versus in a slum where there are drive-by shootings. I think of the wives whose husbands abuse them and I thank God for giving me my gentle husband. I think of the children with disabilities or outrageously naughty behavior and I thank God for my healthy, well-behaved children. I feel shallow thinking that these are the things I am grateful for because if I lived in a slum with an abusive husband with disabled and/or horribly behaved children would I be grateful for anything? In this less than comfortable life, could I merely look at my life and be joyous that God is conforming me instead of comforting me? I'm not sure...Deb, you are providing very good food for thought.