“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11)
On his fourth birthday, my son got a rocking horse, complete with a plastic “wooden” fence attached as the base. This was the big gift that year and it was a huge hit. He rode and rocked that horse ‘til I thought for sure the springs would break! Of course, his 18-month-old sister, who followed him everywhere, wanted to ride too.
One day as she began to climb up, he rushed past her, pushing her down as he jumped into the saddle. There she sat, dumbfounded, straddling the fence. But as he began rocking back and forth, she quickly joined in, bouncing below and beside him. She squealed with delight, just as happy as her brother, while he giggled in triumphant victory, “Ride the fence!”
Classic sibling torture from a big brother. But the lesson to be observed here is the attitude of the baby sister. Though she was climbed over, pushed aside and had the prize torn from her grasp, she was more than content; even at her own expense, she shared in her brother’s success! This reminds me of Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:11-12: “…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have… I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with…plenty or little.”
And what is this secret? The following verse tells us – Christ is our strength, in all things. It sounds so simple, but isn’t that what God tells us to have, childlike faith? When we trust the Father’s love, goodness, power and sovereignty, it’s so much easier to rest in the promise of His Word, Jesus, who is our strength. To put it another way, “Contentment is an embracing of the providence of God.” ~ George Seevers
My son has come a long way from swiping sippy cups and sitting on his sister’s head. Today, that feisty four-year-old is a father, with a beautiful baby girl of his own. He grew “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men”. He would happily hand over the reins to his sister now. She, likewise, has matured and become a doctor! Her laughter still flows freely but through challenges as early on as “the rocking horse incident”, she developed an unrivaled determination to excel in every endeavor and to be held back by no one! Growth is a wonderful thing. However, being content on the fence, like my baby, is not to be confused with spiritual fence riding (one foot in the Kingdom and one in the world). That is a horse of a different color. The Bible tells us we’re either for God or opposing Him, working with or against Him (Matt. 12:20). There is no middle ground and the lukewarm (uncommitted) who attempt to ride there will find themselves spit out of God’s mouth. (Rev. 3:16). That’s vomit! (fyi, puke always stinks)
Contentment doesn’t come naturally, even to most babies. Paul knew the secret because he lived and learned. Though he was rich, he had nothing before Jesus, and though he held human authority, he could do nothing against God’s power. Plainly put, the more we live with Christ through prayer, and learn through life in The Word, the more contentment will abound. Whether riding high or bouncing low, keep pressing onward with the Lord. Following Jesus everywhere brings the promise of one day riding into the sunset together, as well as joy for the journey. Giddyap, now!