I never knew his name, but he will forever stand out in my mind as discontent and anxiety personified.
The gruff old man who ran a bakery on the Oregon Coast had staked his retirement on an unlikely specialty – potato cake doughnuts.
His mood betrayed what most of you deduced from the previous two sentences: the small customer base for potato doughnuts is not in Oregon and rarely, if ever, visits. Even in the height of the summer tourist season, business lagged. Go figure.
So there he was one August morning, angry and bitter, his life reduced to yelling at tourists whose habit of leaving the bakery door ajar disturbed the delicate humidity in his shop.
“Shut the door!” he hollered to no one in particular. The assault was accompanied by a scowl, followed by another equally inspired warning: “Shut the door!”
Maybe you know someone similar, someone whose dreams have been dashed by reality, someone whose circumstances conspire to rob them of hope and enthusiasm.
Perhaps you see such a person from time to time in the mirror, a person who is good at masking discontent but battles it in his mind with equal fervor.
A Christian’s resolve to rejoice in all things so often is crushed by the press of life’s struggles. As the pressure mounts, we’re sometimes reduced to a lingering discontent and anxiety that we readily share with others.
We never plan it that way; it just happens. I seriously doubt a younger Mr. Doughnut ever would have believed he’d be reduced to ranting about humidity to penny-pinching tourists. Such is life, right?
Well, it’s not supposed to be that way. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
It’s amazing to me that those words were penned by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison. In fact, his entire letter to the Philippians encourages us to live with joyful contentment, no matter what our circumstances.
The truth is many Christians are quick to shut the door to the very resources God gives us to live a lifestyle of rejoicing:
“ We close the door to joy when we misplace our hope. Notice that Paul’s charge to the Philippians was to rejoice “in the Lord.” We are to delight in God himself, drawing our pleasure and inner peace from the one who creates and sustains all things, not from fickle circumstances.
I am sometimes privately embarrassed by how easily my mood is altered by life’s happenings. The problem is not that bad things happen, but that my hope has been staked upon events, not the sovereign God who controls them.
When our hope rests in circumstances, we’re in for a rough ride. When we place our hope in our unchanging God, he enables us to stand firm no matter how hard the wind blows against us.
“ We close the door to joy through half-hearted faith. Faith in Christ is an all or nothing proposition. In fact, Jesus told his church that he’d rather have no commitment from someone than a lukewarm commitment.
Why? Because someone who is cold eventually seeks warmth; the person who has rejected Christ in ignorance is much easier to reach with the gospel than someone who thinks he knows the Lord but is too comfortable to truly live by faith in him.
The apostles lived in dangerous times and so often proved that theirs was a faith worth dying for. How easily we forget that ours is also a faith worth living for.
“ We close the door to joy when we live for the wrong reason. Shakespeare once wrote that life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Does your life signify anything? What do you stand for? What is your life about?
If life is all about us, we eventually find ourselves discontented and anxious. That’s because we exist for God’s glory, not for our own. We find our reason for living in him, not in ourselves.
Romans 11:36 says, “For everything comes from Him; everything exists by his power and is intended for His glory. To Him is glory evermore. Amen” (NLT). Living for God’s glory, pursuing his pleasure, not our own, releases contentment and peace.
Jesus tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him.…” (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus, the source of genuine joy, contentment and peace waits for us to open our hearts to him. The door handle is on our side. His patience will last our lifetime.
Is joy elusive to you? Have circumstances conspired to steal your inner contentment?
Open the door to your savior. He waits to be wanted by you.
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