living with less isn't a magic ticket to a content life


"sometimes simple feels more complicated" - yes! i screamed. finally, someone put words to the floaty thoughts that have filled my mind since our downsize. we sold our house almost exactly one year ago, along with all of our furniture (except for a bunk bed and a black file cabinet - things with zero sentimental value but for some unbeknownst reason, were the two things that made the cut), we live on the smallest income we've ever lived on,  no retirement fund, with no assets (unless a 10 year old car counts?), and guess what? i have the exact same problems i had when we had all the stuff. i still think the grass is greener on the other side. 

and so goes the human experience of depravity - wanting what we don't have. "we were made for contentment, but ever since Adam decided that God wasn't enough, contentment has been a problem for us all (-Trent Hunter, for The Gospel Coalition)." the good news is that Christ died for our discontent hearts, and one day, they will be made perfectly content again in His presence. so how do we live in this world, while longing for the next, and grapple with the discontentment that often fills our minds and lives? 

we need to train our minds to believe that God is enough. one of the ways this plays out, is where our joy and happiness's lie. i think Christians (myself included) have exchanged the greatest of all joys, (JESUS!) for the lesser gifts he gives. Jonathan Edwards says, "every taste of beauty in this world is a drop from the ocean of divine beauty. every pleasure is an arrow pointing back to Him." so if we are living in a way that delights more in the gifts than the Giver of the good gifts, we are inevitably never going to be content. let's think about how we give thanks.

anyone can give thanks. sometimes it seems like we have adapted it as some form of salvation, or at least, the secret key to living life well. it's good to give thanks, don't get me wrong. the psalms are full of thanks amidst much lament. anyone can give thanks for their delicious hot beverage of the morning, for a pretty bouquet of flowers, a new house, a new car, health, happiness, new outfits, children, spouses, the whole gamut. because of common grace,  silver linings can be found by anyone, anywhere.

however, only believers can give thanks for the greatest gift of all, the Cross. not everyone can be grateful for eternity. not everyone can look to Jesus and know that whatever grief we're trying to cover by being thankful, will really be made new and no tear will be wasted. this is real hope. this is an eternal hope. i am afraid we're forgetting the riches we have in Christ and are instead trading them for the riches of this world, and really, there is no comparison.

i'm not saying to quit being thankful for the good earthly gifts God gives. i'm just saying there's much more to the story. and that bigger picture is what carries us through anything. 

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” - C.S. Lewis

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. -Colossians 3:2 ESV 


life right now

it's weird to feel homesick in a land you've always called your home. we've been back for 7 months now, and the discomfort of being unsettled coupled with a nagging feeling of wanting stability is all  weighty.  nothing worked out as planned but Jesus said, "come to me and i will give you rest." he didn't say, "come to me and i will give you answers." we have our daily bread, our immediate needs are met, so i have to remind myself of these things often.

we took a risk in leaving home, and right now the risk has not produced the desired outcome. we may never totally see the why, but we trust He has us here for now.

on certain days, when the struggles are all i can see, my vision is clouded and foggy. with clouded vision, it's harder to see our Hope, with foggy skies, it's harder to see the Light.

but with teary eyes on my husband's shoulder late one night, he whispered, "i have to believe God's redeeming it all because that's what He does. (Rev. 21:5)"

and he is right. 

if life was more comfortable and if it felt more like home, why would i even think about eternity? there's Grace in this - our afflictions point us to our true home - our future hope - the one that is with God, that is free of any and all pain. our unmet expectations remind us that in Him, when everything is made new, once and for all, our former expectations will seem so small because of the grandeur before our very eyes for all of eternity. the ringing sorrows in my heart, will one day join in an eternal chorus of joy, a joy that is no longer a fight to have because it's all we will have. forever (Ps. 16:11). the Lord gently sustains us with the hope of His presence, now within us and, when we meet Him face to face.


it costs something


recently, on an afternoon after returning home from a photo shoot, i walked in the door, kids were running at me, dishes piling up, and my sweet husband trying to give me a hug. all i could think about was getting a break. because in my head i was patting myself on the back for doing everything (even though, that is such a LIE. it's not like i go to my husband's job and do his work.). while at the same time being resentful for house work and work work all while trying to love a family well. i just want to sleep longer. or rest. or have "me" time (because let's face it, our society, even the christian one, says we deserve it).

then i listen to the Spirit tugging at my heart, reminding me not to grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9), reminding me that these sacrifices - sacrificing my desires to serve my family - is an act of worship. worship would be really easy if it didn't cost something. kind of like believing God. even the demons believe in God. our Christianity is a call to action NOT just a mindset.
"true worship which delights God is the drawing near of the heart to God, or, to put it another way, the quickening of the heart with genuine feelings in response to God's glory." - John Piper
as we draw near to the heart of God, we are changed, we are made more like Him. and in response, we can worship our Creator in all things - in our marriage, motherhood, friendships, relationships, in every part of every day life.  as we deny ourselves, take on the mind of Christ by putting others needs - spiritual, physical, etc - ahead of our own, we are living out the Gospel, we are worshipping the Creator of all these things.

in 2 Samuel 24:18-25 we learn that David insisted on purchasing the land for burnt offerings because he said, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing." this is worship. for David, offering sacrifices as part of the Old Covenant law was their act of worship through repentance. the same goes for us under the New Covenant, worship is a sacrifice - it costs us something.
 "...worship takes work. For the priest to offer a sacrifice, it meant a great deal of work on his part. So also with us." - Justin Taylor for The Gospel Coalition 
this reality brings such a rich and deep meaning to our daily's. whether it's mothering, going to work each day, being a wife, sister, daughter, friend, or all of the above, we have been called to worship God in our every relationship and interaction. folding laundry isn't just folding laundry - it's sacrificing my desire to do something else and rather do what's best for those around me. this is worship.

because we are such desperate sinners, and entirely selfish, we can rest assured in knowing that our selfish ambitions are forgiven in Christ and we can therefore, move forward, by His grace, in selflessness, to live our lives as an act of Worship as a response to what He has done for us... because He is changing us - chipping away our selfishness and replacing it with something better - Him.

this was previously published on carissagraham.com
carissa graham. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.