“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment.” 1 Timothy 6:6 (ESV)
One of the many spiritually focused emails I received this week reminded me of a particular book on one of several bookcases in my home. The book is called The Pleasures of God by John Piper. I’d forgotten about this book due to what I had before me many years prior to April 26th of this year, when I finally finished my doctoral journey. I removed this book from the bookcase, held it into my hands, and said to myself, “in a few weeks, I’ll start reading this.” I still decided there was no time other than the present moment to just flip through the pages, to grasp what was before me. In the book’s introduction, a beautiful quote took my breath away. It did so because it resonated so much with me and the person I continue to grow into.
“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.”
I mean, I’ve read other quotes like this, such as “Do what you love” or perhaps this one “When you do what you love, success will come.” Yet, Scougal’s is the closest I have read, speaking of the inner life, heart, and soul. It is the closest to the living soul the Bible tells us of in Genesis 2:7, nearest to God’s breath of life!
Refraining from creating and distributing a spiel on work-life balance here (that’s for my other writings ), most softly, I touch on this compelling truth. For those who are Christians, I have always contended that our work must always be our ministry. Ministry, not in a sense, it is done to always proselytize, but more so to distribute the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) efficiently and gently into the world. On one of the few pages I perused in Piper’s book, I saw this, God is more glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. My discernment response then was that I must remember to always be happy with God’s dealings in my life. On occasions I grumble under my breath, I am reminded by the Apostle Paul’s teachings in Philippians 2:14-16
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (ESV)
Each morning, the very breath He breathes into me is the same He breathed into His creation (Genesis 2:7). The lungful I breathe in each early morning seem to now release fewer sighs and for instead more satisfaction. I’ve found that satisfaction while still growing is a great place to be. It’s so beautiful, friends! So much so, it was extremely pleasing to know that some of the water-color supplies I shelved more than five years ago are still intact. It’s lovely to discover that I am peacefully satisfied with my attempts to display my garden’s wonders in water-colored illustrations. And to share my latest creations, though not perfect, with friends. To practice and practice again. Because without practice my future products to share God’s wonders are delayed. It is nourishing to recognize that this talent is still in me. An object of my love! Like young Scougal shared.
Finding satisfaction should never be an abstract idea practiced when things are flourishing in life. Practiced only when our bank accounts are stuff or when our first attempt at baking bread was an uber fail (I speak from experience). Satisfaction should be about who we are in our most indebtedness to God’s presence in our lives. It is about who we are in a place inside of his grace. When we lavish all the wonders in this space, we are better able to know the importance, imperatives, and what matters most. It is like Piper wrote; it is about savoring the supremacy of God in our lives. About hearing Him at the crunch of autumn leaves beneath our feet (Psalm 119:105). It is about doing the right thing without the need for consistent applause. Within constant search to find Him when our hearts are lost in the occasional wilderness of this life we endeavor. These and more! This is the something more. Simple life satisfactions bring us to know more of Him.
Friends, I dare not tell you to try satisfaction if I have not come to understand and appreciate the feeling it brings to me. Because in my graying years, I know of its profoundness and gratifying nature, I can shout from the top of a mountain of its incredible assurances. As you continue to walk into this autumn season, do know that in satisfaction, we find hope. Not necessarily only the hope to deliver our daily needs, like the extrinsic kind. But even more important the hope that is intrinsic too. The one that resides deep within our very being. The one that some of my sweet caring friends possess (I think of an acquaintance/toward friend, S, here). The kind that sees and understand the need for a healed world and persistence in administering right—to simply love. To honor God no matter our trials! When either forms of hope resonate and are avowed, right there, once again we know of and view God’s extreme love for everyone.
Be kind! Be well!
Extrinsic and intrinsic hope credit goes to Kate Davies’ article named “A Quaker perspective on hope.” Featured in September 2018, Friends Journal pgs. 19-20
John Piper’s book can be found on Amazon or other book distributors (unpaid endorsement :-))
Scougal, H. (1677, 1986). The life of God in the soul of man. Sprinkle Publications (1986).