Contentment and Spiritual Guidance

two-roads-diverged1I don’t think I have ever been in a place in life where I have been as content as I am at the moment.

It’s beautiful. I love it. But it’s also made me think.

Today I was looking back at the last 20 years of work and ministry and life. It led me to wonder how much of what I have done has been driven by a ‘human’ discontentment as distinct from what would be called ‘holy discontent’.

I have been ‘happy’ and ‘fulfilled’ for many of those years. My life has been rich with great experiences and relationships, but content is rarely a word I would have used because I am aware that I was constantly searching and questing for the next ‘thing’ – a challenge, an idea, a new opportunity to pursue or whatever. I would enjoy what I was doing, but be constantly wondering what was ‘out there’ that I could get my teeth into next. More specifically ‘achievement’ mattered a lot to me so I found myself constantly on the move, ‘climbing the next mountain’.

It led me to pondering how much of what I have labelled ‘God’s call’ was my own inner need for something new and exciting to fuel a strangely discontent life? I think our motives and hearts are always mixed to some degree, but I do wonder if I interpreted as ‘God’ what were really my own desires and needs for a new challenge.

That thought came to me today as I was praying, because right now in a place of contentment I think I would have a much better chance of hearing the voice of God calling me to disrupt my life and pursue a risky venture of some kind. Right now I don’t find myself living with my nose to the wind trying to sniff out the next possibility. So I have a sense that if a new opportunity presented itself, along with a strong sense of God’s leading I’d have to really pay attention – because I’m not seeking it – and (dare I say it) not wanting it.

I’m guessing many people do know the difference between a life led by the spirit and a life led by inner discontentment, but I do think it can be easy to confuddle God’s leading and my frustrations, because I find he often gets frustrated by the same things I do… (funny that…)

Its not to say I have been barking up the wrong tree for 20 years. Such is the grace of God that he is able to work thru all of our self centred meanderings and both bring glory to himself and enjoyment to us.

But there is a difference between enjoyment and contentment. Enjoyment often runs shallow while contentment springs from something deeper. Some days I find myself lamenting my lack of ambition and my loss of drive to achieve, but then other days I find myself giving thanks that I can live with a sense of peace I haven’t known much of before.

Oddly enough I don’t think I am ‘achieving’ much less than previously… I am just less focused on it all.

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