I have learned the secret of being content...

Graphic by Jennifer Shipman / Photo by Tyler Pruitt on Unsplash

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I’ve read that “if you’re not happy here, you won’t be happy there”. This is a truth that I have known intellectually for a long time, but only now is it sinking into my heart in a way that I can truly understand. I’ve often wondered: if God wants me happy, why doesn’t He move me to “that place” where I just know I’ll be happy?

God wants to give us happiness. But I’ve long believed that God is waiting on me to move – to obey – before showering certain blessings (be they what I think I want or what He knows I need is TBD) down upon me (Deuteronomy 11:27; 28:1-2, Malachi 3:10).  I know He wants me to learn contentment no matter my circumstance (1 Corinthians 7:17-24, Philippians 4:11-12). I’ve struggle with this, viewing it slightly askew. Okay, I know the grass over there is probably not as green as I think it is, but won’t things be easier there? Better? I’d have more time to devote to God, to my husband, my child, the housework, my gifts… I’d be happier!  

But no. God is not “withholding happiness” from me until I learn my lesson.  He will give me Happy, but He won’t give it to me “there”, He’ll give it to me “here”!  And just like every gift He’s ever given, I have to reach out and take it.  Accept it.  He’s telling me what I need to do, I just have to do it.  Yes, the simplest things are often the hardest.  But maybe we make them harder than they should be.  

So: stop trying to do everything else “first”: stop trying to make the house perfect, to get in shape, to get organized, to finish my book, to have kids, to be a prayer warrior, to have Bible study time “just so”, and on and on. Just BE with Him.  Sit down and read, pray, study. Rest in Him: enjoy nature, create art, sing for joy! In her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray digs deep into finding rest in God. I believe this is the key to “happiness”.  

The most important commandment is to love God, then other people – the rest of the “law” comes after this. (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8). God is jealous to be with us not our religion!

And God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:1-6

So it’s very clear: give God your firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9-10): the first of your time, the first of your devotion, the first of your resources. Put Him first, and all else will fall into place. It’s like the illustration of the rocks in the jar. Your big rocks are your priorities, the most important things in life. Your little rocks are all the rest; good things, maybe, but not priorities. If you put in your little rocks first, then you won’t have room for your big rocks. Put in your big rocks first, and then the little ones will fit around them. We will never be happy, content, satisfied with any other area of our lives, no matter how successful the world would measure us, if we are not first happy in God.