on cows and contentment

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-2-18-46-pm

My husband’s intern lives on a farm in what you could reasonably call the middle of nowhere. It’s a good 20-minute drive down windy county roads, some of which aren’t even paved, from the nearest grocery store. It’s the kind of place where you can stop and listen and hear nothing. Nothing human, anyway — just the wind rustling the trees and a duck call here and there.

Among their menagerie of farm animals is a small herd of beef cows — big, burly mamas and tiny, fuzzy babies in varying shades of chestnut with long, luxurious eyelashes.

The weird thing about being in a field of cattle is the overwhelming sense of contentment that washes over you. These cows are perfectly happy to munch on grass and wander wide-open fields and snuggle their young day in and day out. If they get a few extra alfalfa cubes, they’re pleased as punch. But they never moan and groan about what they might be missing. They’re just cows, doing their cow thing.

I think we could learn a thing or two from cows.

As I write this, my Bible is open to Numbers 11. So here are the Israelites, getting ready to go on a journey to the promised land. Not just anywhere. The promised land. They need food along the way, so God provides them with manna — which is reportedly both delicious and nutritious.

But after a few days, the Israelites get unbearably bored. And they start whining about not having the exact kind of food they want as they are on their way to the special place that God set aside just for them.

Typical.

It’s easy to laugh at the Israelites and to think that, if we were in their position, we would be so much more grateful to God for all the help he provided us. But would we?

I don’t know about you, but even as a routine-oriented person who enjoys a quiet and largely predictable life, I too get bored. I see the sparkly, impressive parts of other people’s lives selectively shared on the Internet and itch to have what they have. I frequently daydream about throwing my responsibilities off onto someone else.

As humans, we crave adventure. We yearn for excitement. It seems our biggest fear is monotony.

But it’s in the day-to-day of life that real joy and contentment can be found. In embracing our role and our place and finding contentment in every moment.

Maybe your place is in an office cubicle or at home with a gaggle of children around you. Maybe it’s in a field of beef cattle.

Wherever you are, remember:

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:4-8

May we each embrace our place today and every day — a place we’ve been set in for a purpose unlike any other’s — and may we do it cheerfully.

Continue Reading

finding hope on election day

finding-hope-header

This has been a particularly painful election cycle. It seems like everyone is sick of politics and nobody is happy with the candidates we’re stuck with. This season has brought out the ugly in too many of us.

Because we’re scared. Scared of what happens when we’re stuck with four long years of a deeply flawed president — and make no mistake, both major candidates are very deeply flawed — and what they will choose to do with their power.

We have good reason to be scared. But we also have reason to hope.

First, the person sitting in the Oval Office has a pretty minimal impact on our day-to-day lives. Second, God’s will will be done either way.

As much as we as a society like to keep the spiritual and the secular separate, the Bible has a lot to say about government. Christians are called to submit to worldly authority not in spite of God but because of God:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:1-2

Submission is a difficult concept to love in politics, just as in marriage. It requires a lot of humility, and it instinctively repulses me because I have such strong opinions about good and bad policy. It raises a tough question: If we are called to submit to authority, what happens when that authority enacts unjust laws?

Paul wrote this during Nero’s reign, which was not exactly the pinnacle of just and life-affirming government. And the Bible has more to say on this subject:

Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say, “What are you doing?” Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.

Ecclesiastes 8:4-6

Ecclesiastes gives us assurance that even when we are asked to follow a bad ruler, God’s will will be done. We are told to be still for the time being — because all things work together for good, even if we can’t understand how right now. And when we rely on his wisdom instead of the world’s, we can seize that “proper time and procedure” to stand up against what is wrong, and to stand up well. (I’m putting the emphasis here on procedure. There are good ways to effect change and there are bad ways.)

The Old Testament chronicles a litany of awful monarchs who oppressed their subjects, and yet God was able to fulfill his plan. Sometimes because he thwarted their evil schemes and sometimes because he needed their mistakes in order to make something greater happen. Our salvation would not have been possible if a flawed ruler had not put an innocent man named Jesus to death.

Election Day is tomorrow and I am so ready for it to be over. But I have a little glimmer of hope: That no matter who tops 50% and what they choose to do while in office, there’s one person who will win: Jesus.

Much as I would love to have the last word, I can’t say it better than Max Lucado. He writes:

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016.

Happy election week, friends. Keep your chin up. And may God bless the United States of America.

Continue Reading