It was Spring-time in Paris, France and I was wearing a beautiful new coat with a fur-lined collar. Large sunglasses perched on my nose as I tried to blend in among the fashionable. It’s been nearly twenty years now, but the memory of it remains sharp.
I had just looked out over the city from the Eiffel Tower, pinching myself that I was experiencing this beautiful city, exploring with friends-all of us between 16-18 years old. We made our way to the Louvre, making a beeline past sculptures and paintings to the Mona Lisa.
There she was, hanging behind protective glass. To say I was a bit disappointed was an understatement. She was so....small.
A typical response from a teenager who knows almost nothing about art.
I didn't mope long-after all, I was in Paris!
With my girlfriends.
As a high school exchange student.
Without parents along.
I felt mature, independent, care-free, and extremely grateful. It stands out in my memory as one of the best days of my life.
The Mona Lisa remains in my mind too-all these years later I think about all the fanfare behind her fame and how she wasn't what I expected at all. To me, she seemed ordinary. Never mind her famous smile, that mysterious enigmatic expression that makes us all wonder, “What is she so smug about?”
I just didn't get it.
There were plenty of other paintings that blew my mind-intricate details, massive canvases that filled large rooms, and works of art that took lifetimes to create. And even though I wasn't bawled over by the Mona Lisa, I'm fond of her because she reminds me that we don't have to be flashy or showy or big to be valuable. I realize she is only an image, but she hung there with that famous satisfied smile-unaffected by my opinions. For that reason alone, I like her.
It's natural to think back over 2013 and compare our lives to others around us. We look down the hallways of Facebook and see a friend fresh off a cruise with her family, or we gaze down the portico of instagram and notice the talented photographer a relative has become. There's the coworker who seems to have the ideal romance, or the friend who has 4 kids when you yearn for just one. Or the mom who is so wonderfully patient with her boys, when all you seem to do is yell.
We begin to wonder if something is wrong with us, or if we are missing out on a better life. Is the canvas of our own lives good enough to display at all?
Instead of dealing with our hearts-the jealousy, envy, and lack of contentment, we cancel our Facebook account. (And for some, that may be necessary.)
Yet each of us is handcrafted, by the Artist of all artists. God may not put you on display in the Sistine Chapel. Or at the Getty. But what we think we will achieve by acquiring that greener grass, is contentment.
That's the end result we all really crave. If we could just have....or be...or experience....then we would be satisfied.
God tells us that He alone satisfies. What if your daily prayer for 2014 became, “Lord, satisfy me with Yourself alone, and make me content in all things.” No lofty goals of moving upward in your career, no methodical plot to become Susie homemaker with a weekly cleaning schedule. Just, “Satisfy me, Lord.”
Your desires would change.
Peace would rule your heart.
Confidence would fill your mind.
And like the Mona Lisa, your face would show your contentment. You too could dwell among the colorful, the big and the beautiful, the masterfully organized, and rest easy in your own uniqueness. Your satisfaction wouldn't come from things of this world, your earthly relationships, or a certain position, because you would know and experience what God has been telling us all along.
That masterpieces aren't reserved for the Louvre.
They are earmarks of a woman whose gentle and quiet spirit makes her content. A woman who has it all because she has Him.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:8-11
YOUR TURN! How would your life or attitude be different today if you were content, right now in this moment with your current circumstances? Do you want to be satisfied, this year?
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