March and April gave me an opportunity to breathe deep and to silence the endless what ifs with an even if stance. Even if my fears come true, God is still good and powerful. Now those what ifs still tickle occasionally, but I’ve gained ground in trusting the Lord. The forecasted calamities didn’t happen to me anyway. The time I spent worrying added not an inch to my height nor a day to my life, just like Jesus promised.
Now we’re marching into May with “grace in our hearts and flowers in our hair”* and a new horizon. I’ve shifted from fighting worry … to combatting discontentment.
“If onlys” are an undercurrent of each season; I think they’re a given.
If only I were done with school. If only I had her talents. If only I were married. If only we had a house.
My most constant one: IF ONLY I HAD MORE TIME.
This one exists at last. I have more time than ever, and I’m grateful. But I still find the if onlys on the other side of my chain-link backyard fence to be more desirable. I’m kind of like the Israelites who reasoned, “Well, at least we had onions, melons, garlic, and leeks in Egypt. Our strength is dried up, and all we can see is manna for miles.”
All that provision, and they still complained. I see myself in them. Even with grace from east to west, I still have a few things I’m unhappy about when it comes to my temporary way of life. To put it bluntly, I don’t like following rules. I want to hug my friends and be with people freely. I don’t like calculating how much six feet is or canceling trips. While many stay-at-home orders are lifting, because of where my husband works, we still have many regulations to submit to. And though I’m no longer wishing for more time, I’m wishing for more motivation and more community.
Some of you have had more cause for disappointment and hardship this spring. Your wedding wasn’t what you dreamed. Or your planned surgery was postponed. Or senior year crumbled. Or people in places like Uganda don’t have 20 seconds of water to spare to wash their hands.
These are hard realities worth grieving and missing. Ones that call for perspective for me, and I question if discontentment is ok in some cases. But then I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Without Paul’s secret, we’ll always crave what we don’t have right now, no matter how insignificant compared to others’ wants. I’ve found Psalm 27 brings hope and clarity to what we truly must have to be satisfied. I want to share this with you along with pictures from my spring getaway weekend. (Yes, I realize the irony of me dealing with discontentment when I just visited the mountains.)
Psalm 27 addresses our pining away for what we wish for but also addresses lingering fears. It’s bold, dramatic, poetic, courageous.
Psalm 27 addresses our pining away for what we wish for but also addresses lingering fears. It’s bold, dramatic, poetic, courageous.Tweet
Notice, imbedded in the chapter, we discover the one thing able to wash our if onlys away.
:: Psalm 27 ::
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
These truths bedrock my wandering wishes with the greatness of God! I don’t wait for greener pastures. I don’t wait for the next trial to strike. I don’t wait for rules to subside. I wait on the Lord. And the one thing I should ask of Him? To behold His beauty and to dwell with Him. He says plain and simple, “Seek My face.”
Without faith in His knowable goodness, we will wallow in discontentedness, finding something to say “if only” about. We will cry for the fruits of Egypt. We will despair.
Who He Is
Instead of scanning headlines to try to find out when the world will be right again, and I’ll be free to interact wholeheartedly with hospitality and handshakes, I can pursue the face of God. Even if WAR breaks out, I shall be confident. According to Psalm 27, He has a hiding place for me. He is the defense against my dread. He is our good. He is our help. He is our teacher. He will lead us to a level path.
The if onlys of our heart will be quieted, knowing He is enough, near, and beautiful. Let us behold Him and claim the strength and secret of contentment no matter our circumstances this spring.
*Phrase adapted from “After the Storm” – Mumford & Sons