Nearly every week I swim laps at the Frances Meadows Aquatic facility here in town. In case you have never been, you should know there are two pools in which one can swim: the competitive pool and the instructional pool. Usually I swim in the competitive pool as it lends itself more easily to swimming laps. However, it is definitely the chillier of the two pools. The instructional pool is noticeably warmer than the competitive pool by a few degrees, or at least it feels this way.
I say all this to inform you that in the colder months, I yearn for swimming in the warmer pool. It is a shock to the system to get into the larger pool and its cooler waters when it is cold outside.
Once during a particularly cold time of the year, I arrived late in the afternoon when the competitive pool was being used for swim team practice. Every lane was occupied, so I wandered over to the instructional pool to see if I might be able to do my laps there. It was nearly empty and perfectly available for my laps.
As I eased into the pool, I smiled with delight at the joy of the warmer water. At first, it felt really great to be swimming in such warm water, but as my laps progressed and I warmed up, it wasn’t so wonderful. The warmer waters caused me to relax and decrease my pace. I also began to get too warm and felt slightly stifled in the water. By the time my laps were done, I was ready to be done with that pool. It was just too warm.
Life can often be like this. We want what we cannot have. And on the odd chance that we actually get what we want, whether it is warmer water in which to swim, a nice piece of cake, a larger salary, a new car, or otherwise, we may find ourselves a bit disappointed.
The water is too warm, the piece of cake didn’t make us happier, the larger salary comes with stressful responsibilities at work and the new car brings the burden of a monthly car note.
The concept of the grass being greener on the other side is quite true, yet hop the fence and you will see things on the other side in a completely new light.
There is much to be said for contentment. We can fret ourselves away coveting what we do not have (and sometimes cannot have) making ourselves absolutely miserable with longing ... OR ... we can realize that what we have is in fact all we’ve got and maybe isn’t so bad after all.
Indeed, what we have might be the very thing we have been looking for; we just have not slowed down to see it yet, or have been misled by the clever advertising all about us.
Paul remarks to us in Philippians 4:10-13 how important it is to be content. To want what you have and be at peace is truly a gift.
He says in this passage that he has had much and had little and has learned to be content. No matter what is going on with Paul, he knows he will overcome with God’s help.
Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow said it once in a song that the secret to enjoyment in life is not in “getting what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” There is much truth in that.
I thought I really wanted to do laps in that warm pool, but once I got a chance to do so, it was not all it was cracked up to be. I now make efforts to arrive at a time so I can do my laps in the cold, competitive pool. Turns out it’s just what I want.
Where in your life do you need to find contentment? What if where you are right now is just where you are supposed to be? How might God continue to show you his glory and bring his strength into your life because of something you feel you “lack”?
Father God, who supplies all our needs, help us to find contentment. Help us not to long for more just so that we can have more, for true happiness is found only in you.
Show us the true bounty of what we presently have and give us thankful hearts. Help us to overcome the desire for more that is thrust at us from media and culture.
If we yearn for more, O God, may it be for more of you.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we do ask, Amen.
Michelle Strall is pastor of Antioch United Methodist Church in Gainesville. She can be reached at email@example.com.