Let me tell you about this week. We went and visited Edisa and her family again. We had found two cheap stuffed animals and small Bible story books at another missionary’s moving sale. Two stuffed animals and two books cost us about $1.50 (that sounds like nothing to us right?) Well we took those small things to the kiddos as a sort of parting gift from us and Joe. I have never been so excited about a gift as those kids were for a small toy and book. Wille (the boy) was so stunned at first that he couldn’t even seem to understand. But once he did he was dancing and hugging us and his book. Kayesu (the little girl) was so excited she actually hugged us (that is a first). Two reasons for me telling you this story: 1- to say thank you to all of our supporters for making moments like this possible; 2- because it was an eye opening moment.
I have met folks here who have gone through things I couldn’t imagine, and they are smiling and celebrating life. We can fall out of being contented SO easily. And I have found that the less Jon and I own, the more I enjoy the little things in life. I don’t know that I can say it has anything (really) to do with material wealth or not, but with the fact that if I don’t have it all, I can’t rely on myself. If my mind isn’t consumed with the next iwatch (is that what it’s called?), my morning double super soy non-fat non-sugar vanilla chocomocha frappe, the nicest clothes, newest car, or best job, then what WILL I be consumed with? Why not Jesus? Why not His Word? Why not the lost souls walking around me each and every second? Why not the small blessings that I take for granted? If all I am doing is staring at my cellphone, I am going to miss the opportunity to comfort a crying child, or to hug a new friend, or to bless the security guy walking down the street.
God moved me to Africa for so many reasons, but I think one was to show me the joy of simplicity. In a world where we can have it all, it is easy to think we NEED it all. But I am learning that it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t have, except for the nearness of Jesus. If Jesus is my center then I can be as happy about a stuffed toy and a book as I could a new Porsche. I think this is what Paul understood when he said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13). What does it matter what STUFF I have if we have Jesus? It was all the same to Paul so long as he could share the gospel with those around him.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” It is so easy to see this verse and be like ‘yea, the poor should be content’ or to see this verse in the context of trials, but it is hard to apply to me. Because I can say ‘I am content’ as I get rid of a perfectly good whatever for the upgraded whatever. But godliness with contentment means that we are content in Jesus, whether we are abased or abound, wealthy or poor. It means that I don’t need the next whatever just because I CAN have it. What if we as the church simplified and found as much joy in feeding the hungry as we do in the newest tech? Or in sitting with the downtrodden as we do watching movies? Or the feel of holding the hand of the sick as we do new leather seats? Whether we are being chased around a pit latrine by a bee or staying at a 5 star hotel, Jesus is enough. Jesus is all. And our hearts being in synch with His will bring true joy and contentment.
Ps- we finally got a good picture of Edisa! (She's one in the green dress) :)