I know people will often say that they appreciate what they have until it is gone. I have heard many people tell me about how I should cherish my children because they will soon be all grown and out of the house. I understand the sentiment, I really do. It is just that during a weekend of never-ending illness or times of parental stress it can be hard to truly appreciate what you have. We long for something else- the proverbial “grass is greener” syndrome. It happens at a young age when we tell our parents we want something and we will not be happy until we have that thing. Naturally our attempts at communicating that are confused because, well, we don’t actually say it very eloquently. Still the sentiment is the same: “I am not happy right now because I am missing something I must have right now.” When I was a kid I couldn’t wait until I got to the middle school, the high school, got my license, graduated, went to college, got married and so on. After I got married I got constant questions about children. Even now after four children I am still getting asked about when the next one is coming. Yet, I wonder if all this longing for the next thing is actually causing us to miss a blessing today.
Life in the church can be filled with many similar notions. There always seems to be another church doing something better than we are. There has to be a better place to live or serve than right here. There will always appear to be a more appealing church to attend because of some programmed aspect that seems to fit where you are at, especially if that aspect is a coffee shop. The problem, of course, is that God has you somewhere else. I know that is not profound; it is just true. God moves people around for all kinds of reasons. I am under the impression that it has less to do with our preferences and more to do with His will.
The end of this last year our church building was burned to the ground by an arsonist. Despite all the true statements made about the church being more than a building, having the building destroyed was a painful thing for us. What strikes me about it is not so much the event but the reaction to it. A fire that destroys everything makes you conclude in a hurry what is important and what isn’t. Yes, it does make us appreciate what we do have and what we did have. A building is taken for granted until it is no longer there. In a sense it also set apart what things survive a fire and what things get burned up. A fire has a way of destroying ruts that were formed in ministries and programs that survive in the “we have always done this” mode. It makes us appreciate the place we are in and the people who are in that place. It makes us receive a blessing in the midst of a loss.
This all comes down to the work of God because that is the only thing that lasts anyway. In Acts 5 the apostles are taken before the Sanhedrin because they are teaching in Jesus’ name and it is really irritating the Pharisees. They were so mad they wanted to put them to death. However, a man named Gamaliel stood up and made a powerful point. He said, “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God.” – Acts 5:38
And that is the secret to all of these longings in our life. We need to ask ourselves the question: “What is God doing here right now?” That is where we need to be content. The human heart is always looking for something else, but God has the true answer for that discontent. Let’s not miss what He is doing because we are so caught up in seeing what the next thing is.