Every Saturday our newspaper's "House to Home" insert features real estate for sale in our area along with articles about how to upgrade a home inside or out, how to decorate for the holidays, and what's trending in home d√©cor colors, fabrics, window treatments, and accent pieces. If I read nothing else in the Saturday paper, I browse that insert for ideas I can use in our home. And I like to look through the realty listings and play a game: If I could buy any property pictured on this page, which one would it be?
Then I think about my three-year-old granddaughter, Belle. When I began to babysit her and take her grocery shopping with me, I asked her mom whether she was used to getting a treat each time. Anna assured me that she wasn't. It was true. Other than expecting the usual free slice of cheese at the deli, Belle watches row after row of delicious foods pass by and seldom mentions any of it. There is no expectation of a trinket or treat, and I've been careful not to create one. I don't want to ruin a good thing here–a spirit that doesn't always have to get, that doesn't always need more. Truthfully, I stand in admiration of her contentment. Her satisfaction. Her sense of non-entitlement. And I want to cultivate that kind of spirit in myself as I wheel through the aisles of my days. For I'm definitely navigating my way through rows of desirable options, too. Advertisements. Commercials. Gadgets my neighbor has, cool things a friend just bought–things that crowd in and clamor: "Buy me!" "Check this out!" "You need this!"
Getting can take up a lot of my time. It can eat up my money. It can take over my thoughts and capture my heart. It can spawn dubious dreams and lead me spiritually off-course. It can make me restless and dissatisfied and grumpy and whiney. And it can deeply displease my Father (who I truly want to please). After all, who wants a whiney kid? Who wants to have to come up with something new all the time just to keep them happy? And who wants to be that child before the Father? Not me. Oh, for a spirit that receives what He gives with gratitude, without always asking for more.
Call it the spirit of enough. And very few of us have it.
From birth (and by sinful nature) we are conditioned to pursue our own happiness. And we are expected to be relentless in that pursuit, ambitiously reaching for more grass on the other side of the fence, more money, more stuff, more knowledge, more appeal, more health, more security–more, more, more. Whoever stops and says, "Enough. I'm content with what I've got. Just let me chew on it for a while."? I think God would be absolutely delighted to hear us say that, to see us choose contentment with what He has given and trust Him to supply what's needed going forward. What if you and I made that choice? What if for one month we practiced saying to ourselves and to God:
"My home is enough." No drooling over bigger and better ones.
"My family (or lack of) is enough." No pining for who or what I don't have.
"My church is enough." No church-hopping!
"My job/my calling is enough." I'm going to bloom where I'm planted.
"My health is enough." Beyond taking reasonable care, I'm not going to obsess over my physical wellbeing.
"Your Word is enough." I'm going to quit looking to today's gurus and bank on what You say.
"Jesus is enough." I reaffirm that everything I need is in You and comes through You.
David wrote a Psalm of Enough. In it he didn't complain about one thing, didn't ask for anything, just reminded himself and us about the all-sufficiency of our God–His care, His provision, His presence, His protection, His abundance, His preparation for our future:
God, my shepherd!
I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after mePsalm 23, The Message Version
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
That's the spirit of enough, and by it we say:
"My Shepherd Lord, the place I'm at is enough, whether it's beside a quiet pool or in Death Valley. The "things" You've given me are enough. Your Presence is enough. My blessings are enough. The future You've planned is enough. I trust You to know what I need; I trust You to supply it. When I do remind You of my needs, it's out of a contented knowledge that You already know them and gratitude that You will certainly address them."
The Apostle Paul had this spirit. When the Lord told him He would not be healing him but instead giving him sufficient grace to bear his distressing condition, Paul answered, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:9). And when the church sent resources to him as he endured imprisonment, he responded with gratitude but added, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Philippians 4:12).
"God, my Shepherd, I don't need anything. I am content."
Say it with me. Say it again. Try praying it for a day. A week. A month. The spirit of enough might become a habit–and wouldn't contentment be a great habit to have?