We have been blessed to have taken two vacations this summer~ one in Chicago. I recently blogged about it here. And the other, camping, we returned from on Sunday. We had a blast!
We are of the crazy kind that actually TENT camps~ 5 kids, 1 dog, 2 tents, 3 air mattresses, 1 porta crib and 1 screen house!!!
As I was enjoying some DELICIOUS, peaceful alone time (Abby was sleeping while Brian had the kids at the pool), I chuckled at the difference of the two vacations. It made me think of when Paul said that he learned to be content in any circumstance.
"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have
learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed
or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him
who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13
If you have ever been camping, you will understand why this comparison struck me.
In Chicago, we had plenty!!!!! Camping, we were in need!!!
In Chicago, when we arrived at Embassy Suites downtown, the doorman (who we are just sure remembers us from last year!) wouldn't dream of allowing us to open our own car doors. As we all get out of the van, he greets us with a smile, saying "Welcome home, family!" and "assists" us through the revolving door. Once inside, the bellman loaded our bags (a ton as you can imagine!) and wouldn't even ride the same elevator as us~ we may be a little cramped with him. In our room, the bellman unloaded our bags, putting each one in the proper room of the suite. (I think he would have unpacked them, too if we would have asked!)
Aaaahhhh, camping...... When we arrived, we began to unpack the tent. Within 10 minutes, a huge thunderstorm rolled in, pouring rain. Brian and I thought, "We can beat it! We can get the tent up in time." Wrong. We got it about half way up when the pouring rain chased us back in the van for cover. No smiling faces welcoming us home. No one helping us with bags or putting up tents. Nope. Just the snickering campers nearby (who already had their sites set up) who watched us foolishly try to beat the storm instead of waiting it out in the first place.
In Chicago, we had people waiting on us, serving us. We went out to eat for every meal. The sweet maid straightened our 14 pairs of shoes daily. She made our beds.....took wonderful care of us. Camping is definitely a "working vacation." We unload, set up the tents and screen house, blow up our beds, make the beds with sheets and sleeping bags, set up our little kitchen, unfold chairs, hammocks, and cots. Fill citronella torches so that we don't get eaten alive. Make our fire pit, chop the wood, start the fire.....Here's our awesome site!
In Chicago, we went out to eat at the Rainforest Cafe. Camping was like BEING in the rain forest, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes!
Camping, you make every meal you eat AND do the camp dishes! (Thank goodness for paper plates!)
But, oh, how content I am to be camping! I love being outside ALL of the time, spending lots of time with the kids, the sense of accomplishment, the delicious food cooked over the fire, roasting marshmallows, telling stories, laughing, snuggling, staying up late together......
Just like these two very different vacations, there are seasons in life that will be so different....seasons of lack and seasons of plenty. We must learn (as Paul describes) to be content in both seasons.
There were pros and cons of both vacations. We PAID for all of the "perks" of Chicago. All the nice things came with a price. Camping was dirt cheap, especially for a family of 7. And, as nice as it was to be "waited on" in Chicago, making us feel "like royalty," we had to be very watchful and careful of our kids' attitudes. We did not want them to take anything (or anyone) for granted. We wanted them to be thankful and appreciative to God for the incredible blessing of being ABLE to go. We wanted them to understand that not everyone is able to go on a vacation and to be thankful that we could. We didn't want them to have an attitude of "that's this person's job" and make a mess in the hotel room. They needed to pick up after themselves, not taking advantage of the maid. With camping, everyone pitched in and it was hard work, but we all reaped the benefits and enjoyed it.
Seasons of lack and seasons of plenty in life also have pros and cons, and God will use both seasons to teach us, mold us, and grow us.
Brian and I were struggling, poor college kids. We both paid for college ourselves, so it meant working while in school. We lived on ramein noodles, mac and cheese and hot dogs. To this day, Brian can't eat ramein noodles!!!!!! I can remember walking by Garcia's pizza, smelling the delicious pizza, but not having the $1 to by a slice!!!!!
But, how God used that season to develop character traits in us. We learned to be grateful and thankful for the "little" things (like all you can eat buffets that cost $6.99!) We learned what it meant to work hard and the value of hard work. We learned to appreciate the money we had. We learned how to be content in the little things.
God can use these seasons of lack to develop humility, to break through stubborn walls we have built around our hearts, to teach us important lessons....
But, why does Paul say he has "learned" how to be content????
Our flesh doesn't WANT to be in lack. Our first reaction in lack is NOT contentment. But, Paul says he learned "the secret" of contentment in every and any circumstance? What is the secret?
He says, "I can do all things through Christ." The power of the Holy Spirit helps us to be content. And, it is in the promise of our inheritance, the future glory to come, that brings peace and a settled heart. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, when we depend upon Him as our strength, when we surrender our hearts and circumstances to Him, He will fill us with the peace that passes all understanding. Jesus says that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world.
It is in Jesus that we have hope, peace, contentment.....Paul concludes in verse 19, "and my God will meet ALL your needs (any need you have! He isn't unfamiliar with what we need....He is aware of our needs) according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Where are our riches?
They lie in Christ Jesus.
Lord, help me to be content in every circumstance. How I want to be like Paul, who says the secret to his contentment is Christ Jesus. In the world we live in, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of being content in who we are and what we have, but that is NOT true contentment. True contentment only comes from our relationship with Jesus. MayI always look to You, Jesus for my true contentment. I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
How did we fit it all in????????
The campsite all clean and readi for the next camper!