In 1993 I was privileged to go on a short-term mission trip to Ukraine. It never got above 0-degrees, but oh it was an amazing trip! Unfortunately it seems like I brought back with me a rash. When I get real hot, and when things get real dry it starts to itch… like really itch. I’ve learned, however, that I cannot scratch it, because it only itches more. I need to apply an ointment.
Last night we got our first snow (such as it is), along with wind and cold temperatures. It seems winter finally got our address. Jean (my wife) shared with me this morning that Facebook is lighting up with complaints and longings to head to warmer climates. I find myself both laughing and sad. I moved to PA nearly 14 years ago from Central Florida. I lived in FL for about 21 years. It’s a neat state, but I remember well how I could have used a little cheese and crackers with my own periodic whining. FL is wonderful when you have a beach to go to. Try mowing the grass in mid-July. I could hardly wait to attend my next function outdoors in August… Not so cool… Oh yeah, literally! Try finding a seat at your favorite restaurant during snow-bird season. Have you checked the cost of living down there lately? It’s not all hugs and kisses.
I get that there are cold-natured people, and warm-natured people…. but I fear that much of our longing for other locales, our dislike of the weather here, or the itch to be down or over yonder, is at the end of the day but a spirit of discontentment. Sounds a bit cold doesn’t it?
Think about it. What are we really saying, and who are we saying it to when we find ourselves complaining about where we are? God created the climates of both PA, Florida; the entire planet. The stifling heat and humidity of summer in Florida is a perfect environment for gators, snakes, bugs, and bromeliads. Did you know that Florida has roaches big enough to move furniture (well… they’re big and even occasionally fly)? Southern California has been considered by some to have one of the best climates in America; but it comes along with droughts, earthquakes, mudslides, and I could go on. If you’re whining here, you’ll whine there also… wherever “there” is.
Perhaps the question we should be asking as followers of Christ is: “Why does God have me here?” Unless you decided to run from God (which is a whole other discussion), God brought you to your “here”; He has a purpose and a plan for you. So… What can you do in the here and now to partner with Him in His work. What does making the best for Him look like in both action and attitude? Oh… I have a place in my mind’s-eye that I would love to go to someday… actually a couple of them. But I figure I would be wise to trust in God’s mercy and love, and in His divine timing and will to lead me there that someday. In the meantime, I really do love this area, I love PA, and I know He has me here for His reasons, His purposes. I am after all His kid; I’ve been adopted into His family (Rom. 8:14-17); I think He has a pretty good idea what’s up with me. My creator knows what makes me happy; my longings and hopes. And He knows how much I love Him.
If anyone had reason to complain about the what’s and where’s of life, it was the Apostle Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 6. Oy Vey! And yet, I don’t read in his letters where he longed for a sun-kissed beachside bungalow in Greece, or a chalet with a view in the mountains. Instead he goes and writes, from a prison cell no less, Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NLT). Yeah… he goes and gets all spiritual. He even longed for Heaven, what’s up with that? Do you?
Discontentment is like an itchy rash; when you give in and start scratching it, it only gets worse. It can even spread… into other areas of your life. The ointment, the cure is: Trust and faith in God’s plan. Read His Word; believe it, live it. Talk to Him; a lot. It’s called prayer. He actually listens. And get busy serving Him. If it’s all about you… you’ll just be scratching an itch that will never heal.
BLESSINGS FOR 2016!