Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Great Gain

On the way to and from Houston to see my in-laws (2 adults, 1 child, 1 teen, 1 dog-4 total days in the car) my husband and I found a new favorite song. "Homegrown" by the Zac Brown Band appealed to us immediately, but as we kept listening the words spoke to us. The chorus goes like this.

I got some good friends that live down the street
Got a good looking woman with her arms 'round me
Here in a small town where it feels like home
I got everything I need and nothing that I don't
Homegrown, Homegrown

We are recent transplants to small town life.  Hailing from Houston and Knoxville, we moved to an Asian city of 8 million plus. The little town where we live now has a smaller population than the student body of last university that we worked for.  I love having friends down the street and feeling like I'm home.

But you know what's more amazing?  To be content.  That's what I think of every time I belt out that line, "I've got everything I need and nothing that I don't."

It reminds me of another line, "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment."(1 Timothy 6:6)  If anyone is both contented and godly they have it all.  Sound countercultural? 

Contentment is an underrated value in a consumer driven culture.  It does not mean I have no dreams, goals or drive.  It means simply that I have enough.  The things I seek are kingdom things-peace, joy, hope. I am rich in people things-other disciples, assemblies, sisters; my ambition centers on God things-forgiveness, justice, mercy.  Or to borrow Paul's words "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."(1 Timothy 6:6-8)

The secret to contentment is perspective. In the words of the song "It's the weight that you carry from the things you think you want."  When we desire what we can't take with us, it weighs us down.  When Jesus promised us freedom, one of the masters he freed us from was the drive to compete, to lust, collect, and to possess. 

When we moved abroad, we took all kinds of things we didn't know we didn't need.  We had 2 suitcase times 3 people, a large carry-on each, and a personal item each.  We hauled all that stuff across multiple airports (we had to change airlines since we were flying internationally).  We waited with it in long lines to check-in.  We gathered it around us like hens with chicks when we should have been sleeping not keeping watch.  We took the carry-ons and personal items on an excruciatingly long ride across the ocean and jammed ourselves in between them.   They literally weighed us down.

Eight and half years later we traveled, with a single suitcase each.  We took a bag on the plane with things like pens and notebooks, gum and snacks.  Except for the cash we carried we had nothing of more than sentimental value.  Our suitcases had so much less stuff, but our hearts had so much more.

It's been a metaphor for becoming content.  I will put aside what I don't need.  I'll be content with what I have.  I'll only pursue things that matter.  And going down the road, I'll be belting out the truth.  I love my small town and my friends down the street.  I love to be wrapped up with my husband.  And I love that I have everything I need and nothing I don't.


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