Today’s Scripture — 11.4.2014
“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 all this through him who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:12-14
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” ~ The Message paraphrase
We were standing there, among the bare feet, the jutting ribcage, the tin shanties. Haiti.
I smiled at a child, and then studied the architecture of her small face, angled and hollow with hungry eyes. She smiled back and scooted next to me, all bone and skin and sagging shirt.
We walked, a slow scuffle of feet on dirt, because no one was in a hurry there. When we turned the corner, I saw them:
“What’s that?” I asked our translator, motioning to hundreds of bowl-shaped discs baking under the bluest sky. The little bowls pooled sunlight. The child made a grab for my hand. I held it, and our fingers laced.
We walked closer to the bowls, and her small legs — all bone and skin — brushed up against mine.
“Those?” he said. “Those aren’t bowls. They’re mud pies.”
He told us that a woman in the village — maybe the girl’s mother — had mixed dirt with oil, and then pressed them into a uniform shape. She had lined them up on mats, to dry in the sun. Later, she would take them to market, to sell. As food.
These mud pies would be eaten. By people. This was not some bizarre Haitian delicacy. People in Haiti eat dirt because it gives their starving bodies a false sense of satisfaction, the translator told me.
I gripped tighter to the hand of a girl who knew the taste of dirt.
Mud pies don’t fill. They merely mask real hunger. The mamas know that. But they feed them to their babies, so tiny tummies will stop growling.
I snapped a photo of those mud pies, and of course, I saw the mud pies as a depressing truth about abject hunger in our world.
And then we turned to leave. I left the child, and her mama’s mud pies, but the image never left me. I pray that the image will forever inform my priorities.
The mud pies paint a very real picture of a very real crisis, but the picture also came to represent something else–
The mud pies serve as a metaphor for the life of any of us who have ever looked to something or someone other than God for fulfillment.
We can go whole lifetimes eating metaphorical mud pies. We can feast on the dirt of our disordered desires, thinking they will satisfy the hunger within us — as if mud can bring joy or contentment. That momentary feast of desire may quiet our inner grumbles for a time, but in truth, the feast is a false feast. It serves to mask real hunger that can only be fed by one Source.
This morning, I listened to a podcast from Pastor Matt Chandler, who talked about the disordered desires that we use to fill us up. Some of those desires, he said, aren’t actually bad. In fact, they’re quite good — like the desire to make a good living or to get a better job. But if our “good desires” become our “ultimate desires”, we are being ruled by them.
“What is ultimate to you, will control you,” Pastor Chandler said.
The Secret to Ultimate Contentment
He knew what it was to feast on metaphorical dirt, and he knew what it was to lose everything in order to gain the one Ultimate — the Person of Jesus Christ.
Paul had feasted on a buffet of disordered desires–status and prestige, to name a few. Then, he leveraged his position as way to hunt down Christians. He terrorized Christians, then he became one. Finally, he had discovered the secret to contentment — and he spilled the secret in his letter to the Philippians.
His message is this:
Our hunger for contentment will never be satisfied with our perfection, our performance, or our prestige. We won’t find contentment in a bigger 401K, a smaller dress size, a fancier car, or a week-long vacation in Cancun. Those are good things, but they aren’t the ultimate things.
The secret to ultimate contentment? Paul revealed it in the letter.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,” Paul wrote, and it’s this:
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
The secret isn’t in the mud. It’s in the Bread — the body of Christ, alive in you.
This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.
How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:
1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to!
2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.
3 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?
4 – Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.
5 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. #MoreSoulLessScroll
Tag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)
I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.
Studies show that the best way to form a habit, is to NOT break the chain. Habits form if you keep at it, one day after the next after the next. After our 30 days, we may have created a new habit of Scripture before Scrolling – a habit that can take us into the Christmas season, and beyond.
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Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.
Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.