In the Office: Contentment

In today’s Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, these words capture my heart:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5-6)

While I can’t claim that these are among my favorite verses in the Bible (sadly, I’ve not even made the effort to memorize them), they do grab my attention every time I come  across them – largely due to the picture of contentment that they paint. “Lord, you alone are my portion,” the psalmist says; “surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

One of the elements of my relationship with Christ for which I’ve been most grateful in recent years has been the increasing sense of freedom that I’ve been given from “the need for something more.” When Christian author Richard Foster suggests that one of the keys to developing the spiritual discipline of simplicity is to “refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry” (Celebration of Discipline; 1998, p. 92), he’s pointing out that there is real spiritual danger that comes from living in a culture that’s constantly stoking our dissatisfaction. We’re told that our lives would be better if we had the “latest” this or the “faster” that; and we’re encouraged to believe that contentment can be found “just around the corner” in our latest achievement or acquisition. But the deeper truth (which most of us recognize in our better moments) is that true peace and satisfaction don’t come from what we acquire or attain; they come from the relationships that define us give our lives meaning.

Of course, even though I know this, it’s not always easy. Powerful forces are at work, urging us to want one thing or another; and sometimes I succumb. But when I allow Him to do so, Christ reminds me that I’ve already been given what matters most: a family that love me and that I love dearly; a wonderful church family with whom to share life; and the grace of a Savior, who alone is my portion, my cup, and my eternal inheritance.

May we find contentment in Him today; and may our deepest and strongest longings be for the things that only He can give. As a prayer of A. W. Tozer puts it: “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God…I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.”

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