Have you ever had an “earworm” … that sometimes frustrating phenomenon you have when you get a tune stuck in your head and you can’t get rid of it? Well, I’ve had one for the past few weeks. When I posted last week’s blog, I was in Wisconsin. The week before, I was on the way to Wisconsin. The week before that, I was on the way home from Illinois. Now every time I head for the car, Willie Nelson starts singing, “I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
I enjoy getting to go new places and see new things, but after back to back trips and over 4000 miles on the seat of my britches, I’m about to decide that it is Dorothy, not Willie, that has it right. Bless her ruby slippers, there is no place like home!
Hopefully you remember Dorothy and her little dog Toto. She wasn’t too impressed with plain old Kansas and thought that maybe somewhere over the rainbow life would be more …. well, just more than … Kansas. It took her a little while to figure it out, but she finally came around to the idea that plain old Kansas was really where her heart was.
Over the rainbow the sun shines brighter. On the other side of the fence the grass is greener. In another town, or another house, or another job, or another church, or another marriage, or … you get the picture. See, it’s one thing to enjoy a vacation getaway. There are some really amazing sights to see in this world and unique and fascinating opportunities abound. To someone thinking about a vacation, I say go for it! That temporary change of scenery or change of pace may be just the ticket to recharge your physical, emotional, and spiritual batteries. But it’s another thing entirely when you think that change of scenery will be the answer for the discontentment of your life.
Many of us are familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I have often heard people quote that verse as a kind of spiritual pep-talk in the face of a challenge. We look at our obstacle and then we look at the strength Christ can provide and then we charge ahead into this new opportunity.
But we may not be quite as familiar with Philippians 4:11-12. “I am not saying this because I am in need, 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.”
Did you catch that? He said it twice. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. The King James Version says, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Now Dorothy might tell him, “You’ve never been in the state of Kansas.” (I’d like to insert some state rivalry jokes here, but I will restrain myself.)
The point is that he didn’t allow his location or activity to be the basis of his contentment. The secret of his contentment was the condition of his heart. He CHOSE to be content. And the reason he could make that choice was that he was strengthened by a power beyond himself. His faith gave him his contentment.
I’d like to tell Old Willie that if he lived in Azle and had someone like Mrs. Sweetie waiting at home for him, he would change his tune. The truth is, even Azle (or wherever you call home) won’t feel like home until you realize how much your life matters to God. But once you do … bless your ruby slippers!