Times-Table Contentment

I read this great book--I've recommended it before, but if you didn't listen the first time...Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. She makes a great point of Philippians 4:11, when Paul writes, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances..." Learned. Not "I am especially and miraculously gifted." Learned. Like the grueling work my 9-year old dreads when facing the times tables. Learned with practice and more practice and then some more practice. Learned and then forgotten and then relearned. And there-in lies the rub. Because not everything is like riding a bicycle. I find contentment more like 7x8--that elusive thing you've learned so many times before but in the heat of the timed-math-test, it seems as unfamiliar as if you've never seen it before. Contentment.

I haven't written for the past month. Why, you ask?? Many reasons, but perhaps because I was stuck in traffic where the 2 lane road became 4 lanes with no warning, and I had to fight for every meter against 2-ton trucks and passenger buses and crazy taxi drivers who feel that life and death are equal realities, so why try to fight fate. I could have been trying to figure out what to do for dinner because the 3 liters of milk I bought were already sour--I forgot to check the expiration date, and they always push the expired ones nearest you, in hopes of selling them anyway. Or maybe I was mixing up my second cake from scratch before 8am because the fourth egg of the first cake was rotten, and I forgot to crack it in a separate bowl first. You always have to crack them individually in their own bowl before adding them to the batter--what was I thinking???? Or I could have been sifting bugs out of my flour and my rice, because I forgot that flour and rice have to be kept in the freezer. Or scrambling to find an alternative hospital for an emergency surgery because our main hospital's laproscope "went down." It was probably one of those things. Or it was the distraction I felt in the face of my annoyance (which, lets be honest, was more like anger) for hours when these little, or not so little, issues threatened my very sanity.

And then I was part of a week-long leadership training meeting, set in the Aberdare mountains near Mt Kenya. Amazing cabins, with fluffy duvets and hot water bottles placed just right at night so that the bed was toasty warm despite the high-elevation chill. And incredible gourmet buffet meals which I neither had to cook nor wash up dishes after. And adult, godly conversations and challenges and inspiration.  Meetings only mildly interrupted by peacocks and warthogs and baboons, followed by thoughtful walks among giraffe and gazelle. Our last night, they rang little bells in our room to notify us when the black rhinos appeared at the watering hole. And then we saw a leopard with a fresth kill on our way home. I mean, honestly. I might as well be on an all-expense paid 3 year safari for all the suffering for the Lord I do sometimes!

And so I'm back, now, to the world of traffic jams and sour milk, and back to the times tables. But the gift of last week was to remind me that things are incredibly hard here sometimes, and incredibly infuriating even more often, and incredibly filled with blessing far more than I give it credit for. God promises in Matthew 19:29 that whatever we have lost for His sake, we will get back 100-fold PLUS eternal life. Those are some fine odds, if you think about it! As for us, we have found God to be faithful to that promise, as we've left homes and parents and siblings and 'fields' and as we've gained friends and family and experience and new fields.

I'm going to have to keep studying my times-tables so that when the power goes off just as I need it most, I can recall that promise, recall God's faithfulness, recall contentment in the circumstances. Because life just has ups and downs and trials and joys; and really, challenging is more fun, right? I mean, who enjoys chanting their 1s times-tables. So I'll embrace "7x8=56"..."with great annoyances come great blessings". Has a ring to it, don't you think?


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