By Colonel Donna Igleheart
Greetings in the lovely name of Jesus. It is my honor to greet you in this way and a first to share a few thoughts on this blog since arriving in this beautiful and vast territory. I long for the day when I will be able to travel the territory and meet you face to face. My husband and I feel so blessed to be here and trust God wholeheartedly that His timing is perfect. We have been welcomed with open and loving arms and we sense God’s ever sustaining presence and peace.
It has been a strange year for all of us and being in transition from Africa to the USA during Covid has come with many ‘opportunities’ but I know you have faced your own challenges in your corner of the territory. You have been faced with daunting days of added responsibility; the list is really exhaustive. You have not only survived but may I be so bold to say thrived! I pray you have found perhaps a strength within you that you never knew was there. Often when the hardest of seasons are over, I look back and see the sovereign grace of God and the reminder that the very One who created the universe is the very One who is in the midst of the details of my life. What I have been reminded of over and over again is that God can be trusted. Even when I cannot see I know that He sees me, loves me and knows me best.
Over the years I have written in the back of my Bible, favorite choruses, quotes, benedictions and scripture verses. There is one quote that has become very significant to me that was shared from Commissioner Memory Tuck, a retired officer still serving and leading a corps in the Southern Africa Territory where the congregation is literally the least, last and lost. Her words are so poignant particularly where I find myself today. I trust that they will bless you and perhaps challenge you as they do me. Whenever I read her words I pause to reflect and ask, am I living this? She shared these words, “Contentment does not come when we have everything we want but when we want everything we have.” Then she added, “Read this once a week!”
We live in a world of comparisons and it’s a time in history when people have been challenged to reevaluate life as the world has been turned upside down. We have had to tighten the shoestrings if you will, but the tendency is to still long for more. Social media causes us to look at others’ lives or circumstances and we can be tempted to feel disillusioned about ourselves or our personal situation. The more we compare, the less we like what we have.
I was reminded of two stories that may help put the word contentment into a funny yet rather real perspective.
There was an airplane pilot who was flying over the Tennessee mountains and pointed down as he shared with his copilot. “See that lake?” He said, “When I was a little boy I use to sit in a rowboat down there fishing, and every time a plane would fly overhead, I looked up and wished I was flying it, now I look down and wish I was in a rowboat, fishing.” Contentment can be an elusive pursuit. We go after what we think will make us happy only to find that it didn’t work out the way we thought. In fact, we were happier before we started the quest. It’s like the story of two teardrops floating down the river of life. One teardrop said to the other, “Who are you?” I’m a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. Who are you?” I’m a teardrop from the girl who got him.” These two stories are comical but at times can become our own reality. I suppose it’s where our state of contentment and our current perspective intersect!
Paul understood the meaning of contentment and had the best perspective in Philippians 4:12-13, which reads, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul was the master at responding with a Christ-like perspective. He wrote these brave and powerful words while in prison, chained to a guard!! Imagine that! He said, I’ve learned the secret!”
If life as we know has been anything but normal. If the days, we live in are termed unprecedented and none of us could have predicted the past season of life. Verse 14, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” can be the secret for us too and for those who have been placed on our pathway of life to encourage with hope. Is it really that simple to trust in Christ alone? In these seasons when we feel discontentment creeping in, may we simply cling to the Lord who is our rock, sustainer, and redeemer. Christ alone is the answer! We can search and search for peace or different circumstances and if not careful become discontent and often disappointed.
Perhaps we are in a season of waiting, mourning, weariness, or suffering. God uses all circumstances to bring Him glory. It’s often hard to believe this when we are in the thick of the storms or fires that surround us, but no season is ever wasted. When we feel discontentment creeping in let us remember that God is still in control. I believe that Commissioner Tuck knew through her own journey and experiences what she was talking about. “Contentment does not come when we have everything we want, but when we want everything we have.” As we enter into a new season of fall let us leave behind the things that hold us back and let’s be brave enough with seeking God’s help to begin a new season with a fresh perspective of contentment.
I would like to close with this. On behalf of every selfless act of service you have rendered to countless people and those who wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation, but the words never came. Thank you! Thank you for being the hands, feet and heart of Jesus. Keep shining dear sisters in the corner of the world right where God has placed you! Blessings of love and grace.