I am ready for COVID-19 to be in the past and start what’s next, how about you?! I have a feeling I’ll be like George from the classic Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life, when he realizes everything is back to normal and he runs through his hometown of Bedford Falls thanking God and yelling jubilantly, “Merry Christmas!” One of the things that George learns from his time in “The Middle” is to be content with life. He finds himself grateful for the inconveniences and difficulties of life because, after all, he has the gift of life!
The apostle Paul was so good at living life in “The Middle”. Paul was educated, a Roman citizen, and ended up preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He was betrayed by former believers and false teachers, shipwrecked, beaten, and shackled. In fact, he wrote the majority of the New Testament from prison! While he was in “The Middle” of all of this, he was telling the church to love others, respect the government, and grow in the fruit of the Spirit. Through all the hardships of his life, Paul was able to find contentment in God.
It is hard to live a life of contentment. We live in a culture that is constantly telling us that we are not enough and to always pursue the next level of life: the next house, next car, next job, next pay raise, next “insert word here”. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 not to worry about our life but seek His kingdom. This season of life has forced us all to slow down and evaluate our life. The other day I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing Oklahoma senator James Lankford. I was half listening but at the end of the interview they asked a question that got my attention. They asked the senator what he will miss about this time of quarantine when we get back to a more normal schedule. Because of the mood I was in that day, I would have said, “I won’t miss anything.” But Lankford said he would miss much. “I will really miss the time with my family,” he said and talked about having dinner each and every evening with his kids.
In order to be content in our lives we need to first seek God and His kingdom. This means when we are done with “The Middle” and when we return to “normalcy,” there are things that we need to learn from this time. Take a moment and list three things that you have started during this time that you want to keep. Maybe it is family dinners, game nights, daily walks or family devotions. What did this time force you to do that has made you a better person? When we focus on the things in life that add value we are more content and can grow closer to God.
How we respond when we are in “The Middle” of something is vital. We can learn from Paul to be people who are content–not in our circumstances, but in the God we know and live for. Our faith, hope, promises, salvation, and contentment won’t come from ourselves, other people, or our situations. It comes from a personal God who created and loves us.
George Bailey learned a hard lesson in “It’s a Wonderful Life” from living in “The Middle”. What have you learned?
P.S. I’m starting a new blog series next week called, “Raise Them Up.” This four-week blog emphasizes the important role parents and influential adults play in helping disciple and raise children who love and follow the Lord. The stories and instruction from Scripture teach us what not to do, what to do, and how to trust God—not only in our own lives but with the lives of our children too.