Do you remember the children’s book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This was one of my favorite books growing up, and I enjoyed the sequel, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, followed by the third installment, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, just as much. If you aren’t familiar with these books, the basic premise is that if you give said animal a cookie, muffin, pancake, etc., they will almost immediately move on and want something else, leading the reader on this crazy, wild goose chase, trying to satisfy someone that just cannot be satisfied.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I found myself reflecting on the things in my life that I have been given and that I am grateful for – my faith, my family, my friends, my freedom, the first-world frivolities I so often take for granted. And while those are definitely things I try to be thankful for each and every day, I find myself struggling with contentment in a bit of a different way.
You see, throughout my life, I have had a difficult time being content in whatever season God has me in. It is so easy for me to be like a character in one of those children’s books. If God gives me one season, I’m happy in it for what seems like a split second, but then I start looking forward to what might be next. Or, I do the opposite and start looking at what has been, longing to go back.
I focus on the “what’s next” or the “what was,” and completely disregard what IS.
We were created to hope. And we have the ability to remember. But sometimes I think we get so caught up in the hope or the memory, forgetting to embrace the present. We forget that the present is a gift, and that God is at work in it. We are quick to adopt the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality – whether it seems greener behind us or ahead. If I just had this, or if I could just do that...
Then life would be more complete.
Then I would be content.
We look forward.
We look back.
But rarely do we look up and thank God for what He is doing right where we are.
I’m reminded of the well-known verse, Psalm 46:10:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Throughout the entirety of Psalm 46, we are told that God is with us. That God is in our midst. I often need that reminder. I need to be still, right where I am, not trying to move forward before it’s time, not trying to go back to how it was. But to be still right in this season, knowing that God is God and God is with me. God is in the midst of and working in the present.
I don’t know your specific story or your present season. Maybe you’re a teenager and the boundaries your parents have in place seem ridiculous. Maybe you’re a student and SO ready to graduate. Maybe you’re single and not wanting to be. Maybe you’re dating, and you’re ready to be engaged. Maybe you want a new job, but the opportunity isn’t out there. Maybe you’ve lost someone close, and you can’t see how life is supposed to go on without that person. Maybe you’re older in age and can’t do the things you used to do. Maybe the medication or treatment isn’t helping the way you thought it would. Maybe retirement is getting closer, but there’s still work to be done. Maybe you feel you’re ready to buy the house or grow the family or take the trip but it just isn’t in the cards right now. Bigger and better seem distant. You’re circumstances aren’t what you wish they would be.
‘Tis the season. ‘Tis the PRESENT season. Hope for what God has in store. Remember God’s faithfulness and what God has already done. But don’t discount the present.
Don’t discount the work God is doing in the here and now.
God is with us, in our midst, and God is present in your season.
May we find contentment in what is.