Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

Content?

Date of original journal entry: Sunday October 31, 2010

For me, garden work is not entirely about the garden itself, though that’s a great side benefit.  It’s one of the times I most cherish for spiritual meditation, prayer, and self examination.  And readily I confess my passion for pulling weeds.  Yes, you read that correctly, I like weeding as it gives me a lot of time to commune with the Lord while still being productive in a necessary physical endeavor.  Like writing, gardening is cathartic; I solve a lot of personal struggles, dilemmas, and quandaries in that peaceful place; I call it my mental therapy garden.

One day recently, while weeding the cucumbers and asking God to help them grow, He answered another prayer from my morning devotional time: that He would show me more of myself and help me grow.  There I was, surrounded by weeds and cucumber plants when, for no particular reason, Philippians 4:11 popped into my mind: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.”

Cucumber sketch

Sketching is another of my favorite ways to enjoy the garden. This is Armenian striped cucumber from January 2014

Absentmindedly pulling weeds while pondering the well known verse, I thought that I really should look up a couple of words just to be sure I had a proper understanding of them.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a bit of a word nerd; I like to fully understand meanings and properly apply them; I like to expand my vocabulary.  So, after my weeding I hit the Webster’s 1828 dictionary.  The results of my efforts were perhaps a bit too revealing as they divulged some areas of my life that needed attention; some weeds that needed to be pulled, if you will.  But, really, that was the point so I’m glad for it.  Allow me to share my findings with you in the hope that they’ll bless you, too.

State – The condition or circumstances of a being or thing at any given time.

Content – Rest or quietness of mind in the present condition; satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restraining complaint or further desire.  (emphasis mine)

Ouch!  What a lesson just from looking up two words!  At any given time my mind is to be at peace and held in restraint from further desire.  I don’t imagine this to be a sullen resignation which merely represses my complaints but rather a heart of joyful, thankful acceptance which releases them. That’s a tall order!  But further consideration of the verse gives great encouragement.  The apostle Paul said he had to learn this which tells me he didn’t start there.  He had to go to school, so to speak; the school of life with all of its ups and downs yielding the fruit of contentment in his life.  But it also indicates that he achieved that goal – For I have learned in whatsoever state therewith to be content.  This gives me glorious hope that I, too, can get there.

More spiritual weeding required!

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