Saturday, November 25, 2006

Paraphrased - The Message

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Spirit]; again I say, Rejoice!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God's peace shall be yours,
so fearing nothing and being content with your earthly lot, of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the Spirit of peace (of
untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance.

I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

I have strength for all things through the Spirit Who infuses inner strength into me. Phillipians 4:4-11

Let me think I've gone mad. The girl who waxes on in confusion with regard to her religious camp (or lack thereof altogether) is reciting scripture. Regardless, I must confess that this is one of my favorite passages from the NT. Little blurbs of it often manifest in my thoughts. I find it beautiful and encouraging.

I like the ideology of contentment. I do not believe that this implies lying in the bed we make, but rather finding a spiritual quality of joy in difficult or bounteous circumstances.

Three years ago my dad lost sight in one eye resulting in months of painful laser surgery - mostly botched surgery by an incompetent doctor. These laser episodes would leave my father sitting in the living room, shades pulled, hand on head, for days. It was a very trying and heart rendering time. I languished in loss and grieved the toll this change brought on my parents. My dad, dis-abled from his life. Suddenly incapable of roaming through the woods, unable to judge distance or navigate with compass, as depth perception was forever changed. My mom, thrown into care-giver and sole provider.

When recovery began, revaluing took place. Nothing could be taken for granted any longer. One day, while at home alone, I was overcome by thoughts of Paul and his learning to be content regardless of the circumstances he found himself. I thought about how exciting Paul's life was - roaming all over Europe and Asia, on fire for a cause he believed in so strongly that he gave his life to his work. Forgoing marriage and family and security and depending on the kindness of strangers and past acquaintances to see him through. In his own way, Paul knew the art of living - he embraced the now, no matter what that now represented. He was not defined by his want or his sufficiency. He remained receptive to the flow.

My dad is well now. His body has adapted and compensated. If you didn't know, you'd never know. He is once again able in just about all respects.

I am a lot like my dad. We understand each other's restless and relentless spirit. I told him the lesson I got from Paul was to not settle for mediocre, that is the easy way, it holds no challenge. These things that are thrown our way, that knock us off kilter or even knock us to the ground, should be the things for which we give the most thanks. They provide opportunity to experience the fullness of living, even when the enlarging is on the side of pain - our boundaries are expanded because of it.

For the time being, I am experiencing balance - and I could not be more content.

"Thank you for everything. I have no complaint."

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