“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” – Dale Carnegie
Contentment and gratitude should breed activity and direction.
Being content and grateful doesn’t mean that we are complacent. If I am unhappy for valid reasons, I don’t need to just lie there in my misery and try to convince myself (lie to myself) until I believe I am happy – like some homeless Zen master. I need to change my thinking from being “this is where I am stuck” to “where am I going from here“.
Yes, there are circumstances where we need to “look on the bright side” — but a healthy mindset drives us forward in purpose and in action.
I’m reminded of the lyrics from a song of my youth that says “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades… Well I’m heavenly blessed and worldly wise… Things are going great, and they’re only getting better”. And I wonder, do we realize right now that we’re are Heavenly blessed? I wonder, are we being wise to the ways of the world? And I wonder, are we standing on the promise that God has good in store for us?
Do you feel unchallenged, unappreciated, unsuccessful, stagnant? Do you feel stressed, anxious, unsure, and filled with doubt about where you are right now? Are you worrying about how many more tomorrows you can weather if they all turn out like today?
It doesn’t help us to run around looking for an immediate way out in a spirit of fear. Emotion can have us trading a manageable circumstance for a worse circumstance just because we are in a hurry to “get out”. That’s where the still calm voice of the spirit can share the fruit of self-control and patience with us to reveal so many valid reasons for gratitude and contentment. We must take control of our thoughts and not let an emotional drunkenness that comes from pride and expectation and self-interest lead us down the path of self-destruction.
So first, we should assess ourselves with a sober mind — not biased by emotions like fear, bitterness, anger, or disappointment — but with humble self reflection and with trusted constructive criticism. But we don’t just stay where we are. We don’t just lazily accept where we are. We set our eyes and hands and effort upon what must be done, what must be said, what bridges must be built, what new lands and opportunities must be explored.
We do not have to foolishly waste time and emotional strength begrudging our current circumstances. We acknowledge our purpose and our goal, and we act and we move. We don’t put off today’s work to make time for grumbling and complaining. We work today towards our tomorrow, grateful for the eyes to see that we are strong enough to weather whatever winds and waves come today, because our foundation is solid.
My foundation is solid because it is built upon Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I may take a beating at times from the circumstances that surround me, but I’m not alone in my walk through this life. I have a companion much stronger and wiser that is leading ands teaching me along the way. On my best days, I do not work for my employer, my customers, my family, myself, or even for honor and recognition — but I work because I am gifted and able to do so because of His grace and mercy and favor towards me. On other days, shamefully I have to admit that I can forget how much He has done for me and continues to do for me. It hurts my heart to think about how many times I have forgotten Him, even while He is always there for me — eager to forgive me, eager to restore me, eager to discipline and teach me every time. And can you see how the grace of God restores me to a sober- mindedness that is necessary for me to truly take a step forward instead of backwards?
I hope that you know my Jesus too as your personal Lord and Savior. I’m not trying to rope you into religion. I’m just hoping that you have met Him, that you have talked with Him, that you have felt His healing touch, and received His life giving Word. I don’t care where you are sitting on a Sunday morning, I care whether or not you truly know Jesus, closer than a friend.
Have you ever truly sought Him out?
Have you ever truly laid down your life and followed Him?
Have you ever truly confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that He is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead?
I’m not asking whether you have gone through the motions before, or fulfilled some religious tradition or ceremony. Have you truly?
If you haven’t, I’m encouraging you today to take that step between you and God. And if you have taken that step truly between you and God privately, you should also be eager to take steps publicly to acknowledge this new life that you are choosing — to walk in the way of Christ instead of in the way of the world. Jesus said that, “You will know my disciples by the way they love one another.” Seek out true believers who LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Don’t just settle for a dead, Sunday morning religion — know Jesus and walk with Him and talk with Him and learn from Him everyday. He is your teacher. If you need a brother to talk with, reach out to me. God bless!